Independent Websites Being Pushed Out

Over this last year we have noticed a big change in the industry, a change that seems to be growing at an alarming rate. Big businesses have taken over and are currently pushing independent websites out of the picture. Since the start of this year many major publishers and developers have seemingly colluded and no longer give support to independent websites wishing to review their products. Why do we think they have colluded? It’s simple, they all seemingly changed their policies at the same time. The reason for this may well be that they can control their scores on the larger sites with a cash injection. It has been known for a long time now that companies have paid for scores on certain sites to mislead consumers into buying something that is sub-standard.

After talking to many colleagues and other independent sites we decided to ask this very question to a number of major publishing and developing houses as it seems nobody else would. They were probably afraid of tarnishing their reputation with these companies and if you look at it this way these companies already think little of you so you really have nothing to lose. A lot of these companies outsource their PR to third parties, and most of these are just as rude and ignorant, but you have to remember they are acting under instruction from their clients, the big guns. As much as Indie developers are struggling under the ominous cloud of “big business”, so too are the smaller Indie sites struggling to carve out a business in this highly controlled environment. We asked companies like Ubisoft, EA Games, Capcom and Xbox, among others about this issue, after all, we support Xbox to the best of our abilities, and choose it as our main console format, maybe limiting ourselves and believing in one format was the wrong way to go. However, we wanted to be fair to companies and sent out this question over a week ago asking them for their view on the situation, I think now they have had enough time to respond! Here is what we asked them,

We are currently drafting up an article on how the industry has changed this year in regards to independent websites, and their seeming collusion in trying to push these websites out of existence. After talking to many colleagues in the same position who are just as concerned with the situation, we have decided to ask the companies that we feel have changed their policy when dealing with these sites, including our own, for their comments. We do intend to feature these companies in the article and feel it only fair to ask for their comments on this matter before anything goes to print.

We did tell these companies that if they do not wish to comment, then we would simply just record their response as “No Comment”. I have to say that just as we suspected, all but one company is going to be recorded with “No Comment”. We did however have a response from Ubisoft, and I quote,

“Thanks for the mail below and we’ll decline to comment on this occasion.”

No surprise there then, why even reply! But what of the mighty Xbox, the company that listens to their consumers, the company that supports all things Indie, sadly it also looks like they support big business, and again is a “No Comment” answer. What all of this boils down to is the little man being shit upon from a great height again. We see it everyday in the real world, small businesses going to the wall as the giant corporations push them out. This very thing is happening in this industry, as Independent sites with limited funds are being drained, ignored, and simply shut out. There are many good Indie sites out there that have a large following, but sadly are looked upon as pond life by these companies. Companies can have more control over the larger sites, let’s face it you don’t want to say derogatory things about a product that has just paid you thousands in advertising and perks now do you. This is why the industry needs independent review sites, such as our own and many others, free to give you their honest and non biased opinions about games. Hold on, if that were to happen then the companies wouldn’t sell as many copies, “so let’s just push these guys out of existence and a little money spent on larger sites, we’ll then reap larger rewards”.

Independent sites that provide honest opinions are just as important in this industry as independent developers, otherwise every game would get the same good score through payment, and big companies would just go on releasing yearly upgrades to old IP’s and we would lose the imagination and creativity of the Indie developers. No matter how we are treated within the industry we will continue to bring you our honest opinions on titles. It’s just a shame that the corruption is starting to run even deeper without anyone challenging it.