The Jimquisition Takes On the Bullshit of Bullshots

With all the talk about Watch Dogs and the idea that the visuals have decreased in quality since the reveal at E3 2012, Jim Sterling takes this opportunity to weigh in on the practice of showing off screens that a game can’t live up to.

So tell us, what do you think? Is Jim right? Do publishers need to make sure that all of their promotional materials accurately reflect the game, or should we really know better?

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5 Comments on The Jimquisition Takes On the Bullshit of Bullshots


On March 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm

I have to agree. The big publishers love to fall back on this idea that gamers have unrealistic expectations when the vast majority of the time, those expectations come from what they show and/or tell us to expect. I certainly did not enjoy being told by Casey Hudson that people had unrealistic expectations about ME3 when a few minutes of research revealed statements about the game he made mere months before that turned out to be absolute lies. It would have been just as easy not to say those things, and at least then he couldn’t have been called a liar.

When a game like Watch Dogs is touted as the reason to get a next-gen console, and is even delayed past launch presumably to make it even better, of course people are going to be disappointed when it only looks somewhat better than what you’d get on a PS3/360. If you’re actually honest about your product, it makes it a lot harder for people to say that it wasn’t what they were expecting. I genuinely don’t understand why people would go to bat for companies doing this. If you already know that you’re being shown something that isn’t accurate, why do support someone putting a deception right in front of your face? It’s like that old expression, “You can urinate on my head, but don’t tell be it’s raining,” except we have people basically saying that it’s ok that someone is telling them it’s raining and it is somehow the fault of everyone else for not figuring out it was urine the whole time.


On March 10, 2014 at 8:39 pm


@R.J.: I don’t understand it, either. The developers crank the hype machine up to maximum, and then tell us that we’re at fault for expecting too much from them, when they were the ones that caused the expectations. The way I see it, gamers are going to have to start hitting the developers where it hurts, by not preordering. Now, of course, I imagine some companies might take this the wrong way and assume that there isn’t a market for certain types of games. I say let them think that. If they want to throw in the towel in that way, let them. The game developers with actual integrity will actually start fixing their system, their bugs, their customer service issues. It’s time for these companies to start getting the point, and the only way to make them understand is to show them just how dependent their company is on making their customers happy.


On March 10, 2014 at 9:04 pm

I’m not interested in this game anymore when they decided to release AC4 over this. I had the bundle preordered and had to cancel it. This is a great way to kill a game.


On March 11, 2014 at 3:16 am

Buying something on the premise of a promotion only to find out you’ve been sold something different is the very definition of ‘false advertisement’. As much as I hate to say this, what needs to happen is a company like Ubisoft needs to be hit with a major class action suit siting several examples of a finished product that did not reflect the promoted product. I’m not talking about a game not living up to the hype, I’m talking about a game that does not properly reflect what was promoted.

Could you imagine of high end car manufacturers did this? You get sent a promo for the newest upcoming Aston Martin DB9. You put down the money (yes, you CAN pre-order cars if you have the money), months later it arrives. But uh-oh, it doesn’t look nearly as good as in the promo picture. If Aston Martin then turned around and responded with a “Well our customer base buys our cars for their performance, not for the way they look”, you would respond with a resounding “BULLSHYTE”. Aston Martin would lose so much money. In reality we know they wouldn’t do this, that’s because unlike most game developers/publishers, Aston Martin doesn’t treat their consumerbase like petulant children with the attention span of a gnat.

There are 3 things that are slowly eroding away at the games industry. Whatever problems might arise from the consumer side of a game release, it always comes down to one of these 3 things. Hype, Hyperbole, and Apathy. From the business side, it’s greed, that’s not surprising, it’s always greed. However from the consumer side, hype, hyperbole and apathy.

I write paragraph after paragraph about hype and hyperbole. So I’ll just sum it up as best as I can. Hype is one of the reasons why developers/publishers think they can get away with the bait ‘n switch we see time and time again. However, normally, we as the consumer are not supposed to notice the bait ‘n switch until after we’ve purchased the product. So what happened with Watch Dogs? The 6-7 delay happened. Delays are polarizing especially when you cite “quality control” as the reason THEN release a gameplay video that is of a noticeably lesser quality than anything that came before. Hyperbole is a large part of why so many were unhappy with how MassEffect 3 turned out. I’m not talking about just the ending, but the entire game as a whole. Seriously, when the previous game is getting praises like “Best game ever created”, “Best RPG ever”, “Must buy for any RPG fan”, “Gripping and engaging story that leaves you wanting more”, how can any game to come after live up to that? The sad part is, these were things all said by gaming “journalists” (as always I use that term loosely). There is a giant difference between Jeremy Clarkson and Kevin VanOrd. When Clarkson is being hyperbolic, you know he’s being hyperbolic. It’s part of the entertainment value however in the end you always get an honest opinion. When VanOrd or even Moriarty are being hyperbolic, they do it straight-faced and expect you to take them at their word.

However, what I really want to shine the light on is the apathy. Apathy will kill the industry. It will be the main cause of the next crash of the gaming industry. It is singlehandedly the reason why Ubisoft thought they could away with this type of bait ‘n switch. Why Microsoft is able to run their giant money vacuum known as Xbox Live where they double charge you for services you’re already paying for. It’s why most f2p games have such a restrictive f2p model that forces you to subscribe or be punished for not doing so. It’s why the Call of Duty/Battlefield games continue to charge 60 bucks every year for game that continues to have an awful singleplayer and a multiplayer component that has largely remained unchanged since 2006. It’ll be the reason why……and spoiler alert, Battlefront will just be Battlefield with a StarWars theme. It’s apathy, gamers give up before even trying to fight. Most of the community have a mentality that along the lines of “why bother, when the person next to me is just going to buy it anyway. I can’t make a difference and besides, what are you going to do? Not buy that game?”. That last bit right there, so many gamers act as if they don’t have a choice. This is why boycotts not only always fail but go completely unnoticed. This is why petitions are ignored in their entirety. It’s why even though there is talk that EA is going to be named Worst company in America…..again, that by this time next week they’ll have sold in the upwards of 25 million copies of Titanfall. What I want to know, and I mean REALLY know, is why there isn’t atleast one “journalist” out there that is trying to bring sight to those that are blindly following along buying everything they’re told to buy. Why is there not one article about how gamer apathy is rotting the gaming industry from the inside out on Gamefront or The Escapist, or IGN or Gamespot or Kotaku or Giantbomb or any of the other gaming websites that actually get a fair amount of traffic. You might be asking yourself right now how did this turn into a rant on journalism. It’s because journalist apathy. There are not enough “journalists” out there actually earning that title and reporting on stuff that actually matters. Instead its “why bother”, because they know the sleepwalking masses say “why bother, it’s not like anything will change”. Well NO EFFING SHYTE SHERLOCK! Of course nothing will change if you don’t say anything. Instead you and the “journalists” will just bend over and take because by this point the developers/publishers have you convinced it’s what you want. If you don’t, then you can’t have what it is they’re peddling because again, they have you convinced they’re the ones in charge. Apathy, the act of bending over and taking it because why bother?


On March 11, 2014 at 8:15 am

@AxΣtwin: it’s actually worse than you’re suggesting. Apathy is part of the problem, but it coincides with an even more perilous one – obedience and approval.

After all, in the examples you gave (particularly ME3) it wasn’t just the case that journalists were merely apathetic. In many instances, they simply didn’t accept that there was a problem, and appeared incapable of even acknowledging that there could be. With ME3, journalists actively attacked those who were critical while providing nothing in return aside from regurgitating industry PR clichés about entitlement and artistic integrity etc. I’d have happily accepted apathy over that, but of course by its nature games journalism has a dynamic of positive coverage being rewarded with increased access. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” It doesn’t meet the classic image of some suit coming along with a suitcase of cash or a crate of merchandise to buy an individual reviewer’s loyalty, because it doesn’t need to. It’s ingrained within the nature of review journalism. If you give any artist a good platform they’re more likely to seek your input and give you exclusive insight into their future works, and likewise if you keep reviewers sweet they’re more likely to jump to your defence when things become challenging. It’s not a grand conspiracy and it’s probably not something that most creative artists and their respective reviewers are even implicitly aware of, but it is something that regularly causes a lot of trouble.

Despite this, I actually think games journalism for the most part is nowhere near as corrupt and broken as some believe. After all, even with all the crap surrounding ME3, the press was generally honest enough to admit that Skyrim was not acceptable upon release, and even massive Fifa fans in the media condemned EA for reskinning an old Fifa game and selling it at full price. But these are instances where there’s no defence to begin with, so to expect anything less would be unrealistic and unreasonable. When things become more muddy, many games journalists still have a tendency to revert back to their predisposed notions of either the industry as a whole, individual publishers or developers, individual genres, customers, the internet, or other games publications. In the case of ME3 for instance, many outlets simply took it as a given that BioWare is fan-focused and that customers generally expect too much, and that any backlash is always just a vocal minority anyway. They didn’t care or even for the most part believe the clear evidence of those many dozens of press release quotes from EA and BioWare about technical qualities that would be in the game that ultimately weren’t included, or that those criticising the ending actually constituted a massive majority, or that most of the criticisms being made weren’t anything to do with the ending being too sad as the press were leading its readers to believe, or that BioWare hid behind managed statements and self-conducted interviews and to date have never spoken to the audience directly about the controversy, or – perhaps most crucially – that the writing process behind the ending was different from the process behind the rest of the game and that even many BioWare employees have since come forward to state their own personal dissatisfaction towards the ending and the way it was created, compared to nobody from within the company supporting it except those who were originally responsible. All of these things were readily available and unambiguously true, so why is it that even two years later most of the mainstream outlets still ignore them? In some cases, it’s incompetence and lack of research. In others, it’s deliberate dishonesty. And in others still, it’s because they’ve genuinely come to believe that the only views that exist, and with it absolute truth, is that which is told to them by the developers and publishers, while those who actually buy and play the games are just proles and peons who naturally could never have an informed opinion on any of the games they play since they don’t have a bunch of letters after their names or have never worked as a playtester. (Except, of course, customers are increasingly being used now as unpaid playtesters by EA and Ubisoft.)

The only way to change this dynamic is to refuse to pay into it. Magazines are becoming increasingly obsolete anyway due to their high costs vs low information, while it’s incredibly easy to publish, communicate, and discuss ideas on the internet on forums and in Youtube videos. There’s a lot of crap of course, but I’ll tolerate the inferior in order to see the really great examples (e.g. MrBTongue, smudboy) that would otherwise never get a public platform due to actually challenging a consensus that should never have existed in the first place.