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Should Game Companies be Penalized for Poor Ratings?

Warner Bros. new royalty plan begs questions

By Troy Roberts and James Stevenson     May 28, 2004


ENTER THE MATRIX
© Atari

Recently, Warner Bros. made an announcement concerning royalty fees for their licensed video games. Basically, they announced that there will be higher royalty fees charged to the game studios for games that are given lower scored reviews by the media. While this may sound good to some (as it may cut down on bad games), there may also be some downfalls to this in the coming months and years. This week in Gamers' Thumb James Stevenson and Troy Roberts, CINESCAPE's game editors, share their thoughts on what Warners decision may mean to the gaming industry:


"There's a lot of interesting dynamics to this decision. First of all it places a huge amount of stress on the reviews. As a reviewer, now say someone on a dev team pisses me off, or I'm really good friends with them, if I know they need as good a review possible, it might effect my score. There's other problems too, there needs to be more money given to developers - perhaps more than they're making now for just being over 70%. If they get over 80%, up it, if they get over 90%, up it more. Anytime a game gets great reviews there is going to be more sales, reward the developers for it. At that point to - the companies need to bug off and let the game studio do its job, if you're judging them on their performance, let them perform the way they think it needs to be done. There also needs to be a fair standard for a reviews across the board, I'd say there is some confusion with how game ranking index sites turn a B or an A into a percent grade. This is now money we're talking about. I like the idea but I think this means Warner Bros. needs to let the companies do their jobs without interference. The only problem is how reviews may be influenced. Who knows what kind of money, trips, and stuff will be thrown at journalists now. It'll be interesting to see." - JS


"This rule creates a very interesting dilemma. In some ways, I like it, but in others I think this will end up being a problem in the end. The fact that I like it has to do with some really bad games getting released

ENTER THE MATRIX

these games. If companies have to pay a higher royalty fee for badly reviewed games, maybe developers will get the hint and just stop pushing out a lot of garbage based on television shows or movies. Now, on the other hand, a game like ENTER THE MATRIX was one of the biggest games released last year, but it wasn't a huge hit with the press. So, should Atari be punished for making a mediocre game that had some awesome sales numbers? I for one don't want to be trying to answer that question. And this also makes it really easy for the game studios to try to win over the press even more with freebies, trips, etc. for good reviews. Should we be worrying about our integrity as reviewers when this starts happening?" TR


We've given you our opinion on this, but we want you guys to let us know what you think. Is this a smart move by Warner Bros. or will it turn out to be a huge mistake? Send us an e-mail at GamersThumb@cinescape.com and let us know.


TIDBITS



Microsoft has begun focus testing a $599 PC Xbox hybrid as the Xbox Next. This machine would feature Windows, would require a monitor or HDTV, and for all intents and purposes is a computer... While Nintendo's profits were cut in half by currency concerns, the company did announced that it will unveil its next-gen console at E3... The Xbox outsold the PS2 thanks to the price-drop for a brief period, but it's unknown if this will continue since the GameCube had similar results upon dropping to $99... The final expansion to URU will be released for $19.99... Eidos has released SINGLES: FLIRT UP YOUR LIFE through online distribution because of its AO (Adults Only) rating...


ON SHELVES



Still a pretty down week before the summer season starts up. FULL SPECTRUM WARRIOR will be released for the Xbox, as well as HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN for the big three systems. The CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, based on the movie starring Vin Diesel, will also come out next week for the Xbox, as does MALICE for the Playstation 2 and Xbox.



Gamers' Thumb is our weekly Video Game column.

Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at GamersThumb@cinescape.com.

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