RPG fans won't need to wait until Dragon Age: Inquisition's launch date to read reviews of the game. The embargo for reviews will end well before the game's release date.
Advance copies of the game were sent out to many outlets yesterday. Reviews for Dragon Age: Inquisition can be published starting at Tuesday, November 11th at 12:01 am Pacific Time. Four hours of livestreaming per day will be allowed starting on November 12th at 6 am Pacific.
Dragon Age: Inquisition will debut in North America on November 18th. This means gamers will have enough time to find out what critics are saying before it's time to actually spend money.
By contrast, EA had restricted Dragon Age 2 reviews until the game debuted on March 8th, 2011. The only exception was a print review from PC gamer. In many cases, reviewers didn't get the game at all until it was actually released.
When a publisher allows reviews to be widely published before its release date, that's generally a sign of confidence in the product. They believe that the reviews will be good enough to potentially boost early sales. A big company like EA usually has a good sense of how well their game is going to be received thanks to mock reviews written by consultants. They know if they've got a stellar game on their hands.
A review embargo that expires on launch may indicate a publisher's lack of faith in the game. Bad reviews could result in cancelled pre-orders so the publisher makes sure they don't arrive until many gamers have already made their purchase. One of the most notorious examples of this was Alien: Colonial Marines.
There are other reasons why a publisher might restrict reviews until launch. Maybe they want these reviews to reflect a day-one patch. With a multiplayer-centric game, a publisher could want reviewers to play on live servers with a significant amount of other players. Still, while a day-one embargo could be interpreted in many different ways, an early embargo can't really be read as anything other than optimism on the part of the developer.
I'm glad they're actually giving reviewers a lot of time to play Dragon Age: Inquisition before they have to publish reviews, too. EA estimates that the main story could take about 50-60 hours to complete. If critics received the game on launch, a lot of reviews wouldn't be arrive until several days later. In the meantime, we'd just see a bunch of hastily written "reviews-in-progress." Instead, reviewers will have plenty of time to flesh out their thoughts on the game. That's great news for anyone considering a purchase of the game.
What do you think Dragon Age: Inquisition's average review score will be?