Future Publishing, the top of the crop over online and printed gaming publications such as CVG, Next-Gen.biz, Nintendo Power, Official Xbox Magazine and PC Gamer to name a few, has been outed for having shady deals with publishers, review scores with fixed numbers and lots more.
Rich Stanton, a writer for Future Publishing has taken to his blog to completely lambast CVG while also bombing on other poor practices in the video game journalism ring. There's a lot to cover but Neogaf has the best bits.
Stanton is asked by a few users on Twitter “Just give us the worst story on Future you have and get some rest!” to which Stanton replies...
Edge gave GTA IV  but the review didn’t...I’m genuinely amazed that nobody has picked up on the fact that GTA4 got a 9 which became Rockstar’s much sought-after  in Edge.
Others asked Stanton, “Do publishers/platform holders 'pay' for covers? In either ad spend or access.”, a loaded question no doubt. Stanton keeps it simple and blatantly states...”They control everything.”
The above really should come as no surprise given that it's easy to blacklist a website or gaming magazine if they decide not to play ball, it's happened before. And every gaming magazine and website is looking to cash in on hits anyway that they can, so of course they'll play along, even if it means fixing review scores from a '9' to a '10' just to please the publisher who is indirectly paying for that score with ads *cough*Mass Effect 3's review on IGN*cough*.
Other questions asked Stanton things like “game that got most obviously dodgy reviews?” and Stanton's answer was “Homefront, less obviously”.
A somewhat surprising answer for the next question may or may not be shocking to some readers, as Rich was then asked, “Who were the dodgiest PRs for doing deals (review scores etc)?” to which he replies “Rockstar, without question.”
Yikes, I did not think they would have been at the top but at the same time they play it all very close to the chest like Nintendo. You never really know what's going on with Rockstar because they're far less forthcoming than studios like THQ, EA or Activision, who are usually temperate and quick to respond back or work out a deal of some sort. I do find it shocking that they would be considered the dodgiest by Stanton, but I guess it's different flavors for different folks.
Stanton is then asked, “have you witnessed any dodgy deals?” and the obvious answer is quite obvious, with Mr. Stanton saying “Yes. Future will do anything to accommodate advertisers”.
Ha, anything to accommodate advertisers? Wasn't that Gamespot with the Gertsmann incident and IGN with Jessica Chobot in Mass Effect 3? Anything to keep the dollar bills flowing.
Stanton then goes on to say...
PC Gamer asked me to take some photos of something very specific. A wall of concept art. I asked permission, and did so.
Near the end Rich is asked “worst games mag/site?” and while he keeps it simple on Twitter, he expands a bit more with the exact same answer on his blog, saying...
CVG. They deliberately misquote devs, and claim it’s a mistake after the hits...
Even though he admits he was drunk, I get the feeling Future Publishing may not be requesting his services anytime soon after this not-so-little incident. He does try to rectify his comments by saying that the people are Future are mostly good, save for the top brass.
I'm sure CVG is probably going to go on damage control soon enough to cover this up or possibly pretend it just never happened. Also, don't expect any public announcements from Rockstar over the GTA IV review fixing for Edge Magazine...that will likely stay buried.
Stanton isn't saying anything we didn't already know in regards to the shadiness of video game journalism (or the lack thereof), but he's now putting names to faces and now gamers have an idea of who's who and what's what whenever they visit their favorite/tainted website.