No Review Copy for You!

wrc-6-screenshot-citroen-ds3This is the number one indication we really aren’t in the Golden Age of Sim Racing as some people like to think.

Review copies, let’s talk about them for a bit. I don’t think the concept itself is too hard to grasp, but I’ll briefly go over it so our younger or uninformed readers are brought up to speed. Traditionally, when you write for a more established and respected gaming news outlet (read: not PRC.net), you’re usually privy to early access of brand new video games, and this is primarily so you can compose your in-depth review and get the word out about the game to your audience prior to the game landing on store shelves. This in turn helps your readers make an informed purchase, generates additional traffic to your website for discussing the game during it’s highest period of relevancy, and if the game is genuinely good, almost acts as a free extension of the developer’s marketing campaign – which in some cases can lead to a relationship forming between both the author and the developer.

It’s not the most difficult concept to understand, really; it’s common practice for any sort of “big” gaming outlet to receive a game three weeks early for their writers to dig through and evaluate. Of course, during the review process other individuals on the team may be tasked with gathering gameplay footage to release on their respective YouTube channels as preview clips, but the general idea I’m trying to get across is that if you’ve somehow found yourself in the world of video game journalism – whether it be as an amateur blogger or a paid gig – you indeed get to play new games way earlier than anybody else.

The process of obtaining a review copy for your publication basically boils down to contacting the developer ahead of time, introducing yourself, talking a bit about your publication, and obviously asking if you can have an advanced key for whatever game they’ve got coming out in a few weeks. Sometimes they’ll say yes, other times they’ll say no. If you typically write positive reviews, your chances of getting a review copy increase because it’s free positive press for the developer. If you’re the cunt who runs PRC.net, you don’t get a review copy. This is unfortunately what pushes certain mammoth gaming sites to give exceptionally high scores to otherwise lackluster games; shit on a new IP from Electronic Arts because you found a bunch of embarrassing bugs, and the free copies of Battlefield, Madden, and FIFA stop showing up – meaning you can’t cover extremely popular games, therefore causing your site to lose traffic and significantly impacting the amount made off of advertisement revenue.

heatMy feelings aren’t hurt when we don’t receive review copies. We’re very proud of the loyal group of readers we’ve gathered over the past eighteen months here at PRC.net, but we’re also not blind; we have a tendency to outright shit on things, and it’s totally understandable that developers are reluctant to work with us in any fashion. Aside from Racecraft and RaceRoom Racing Experience, every game we’ve reviewed is something we’ve had to physically go out and purchase like every other regular customer. Yes, it sucks to part with $100 CDN only to find out Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo was a horrid technical mess, but at least we’re allowed to write what we want, and aren’t given the task of maintaining fragile relationships with hostile developers in a genre that has quite frankly fallen off the map.

wrc6_screenshot_studio_tour_2On the other side of the spectrum, you’ve got Inside Sim Racing – an outlet that stays well within the range of what’s considered politically correct for modern racing simulator reviews, and it’s pretty much a given they’ll have early access to virtually any driving game on the market. Usually when I bring up ISR I always sprinkle stories of Darin Gangi’s numerous message board antics, but for the topic at hand I have to give credit where credit is due; the pair of John Sabol and Billy Strange have done a fantastic job of making ISRTV relevant again, and I do find myself watching their videos of upcoming games from time to time.

The fall release season is upon us, and in most cases that would mean ISR’s general activity on YouTube would spike with a flurry of preview videos for DMR’s NASCAR Heat Evolution, Kylotonn’s WRC 6, and Milestone’s Ride 2. Now NASCAR is already out on store shelves, and admittedly there’s not much anticipation for the other two products listed, but with how little driving games we’re blessed with compared to first person shooters or dating sims, anything that hits the shelves with a race car on the cover is something for us to get excited about.

Unfortunately, Sabol was forced to upload a pair of strange commentaries mocking the situation at hand.

A few weeks ago, John Sabol mentioned during an episode of This Week in Sim Racing that DMR Games – the publisher in charge of NASCAR Heat Evolution – refused to provide the Inside Sim Racing crew with a review copy, and upon playing the game for himself, remarked it was easy to see why. Even Inside Sim Racing, a publication once notorious for plastering iRacing stickers all over the set and basically praising every racing game with basic steering wheel support, had no problem ripping on the new NASCAR console game because it simply wasn’t ready to be released.

ISR have now run into this road block two additional times, bringing the count to three games in three weeks. Both Kylotonn Games, as well as Milestone Interactive, have refused to give Inside Sim Racing an evaluation copy of Ride 2 and WRC 6. This is huge. The current lineup of primary ISR personalities are about the furthest thing away from a bunch of assholes who set out to destroy every racing game they come across; they’re actually the most-watched driving game news outlet on YouTube and are managed by a guy who’s been in this business for almost a decade. If ISR of all outlets have been shafted on review copies three straight times in under a month, something is seriously wrong with this genre. Several developers don’t even want respected racing game aficionados to evaluate their games.

We’re now at a point where racing games as a whole are such unfinished clusterfucks intended to make a quick buck and screw over their respective fanbases, multiple developers are scared to give review copies to a reputable genre-specific news outlet that only reaches a few thousand people each week. Even if Ride 2 manages to blue-screen the Xbox One and distributes malware to everyone on your friends list, Inside Sim Racing is so small in the grande scheme of things that a negative review (which is unlikely to begin with given ISR doesn’t do negative reviews) simply won’t hurt sales, so why shaft these guys? And better yet, if we’re in the Golden Age of Sim Racing as some like to say, why have these guys been ignored by developers three times in three weeks? In my opinion, the quality of their content has been getting better, and yet now they don’t have anything to review.

And this is before we talk about the Assetto Corsa console review embargo – which obviously served to intentionally delay criticism of the game and reel in additional sales before people found out Assetto Corsa on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 was an unplayable piece of shit.

054934Are we going to spam the email of the Kylotonn Games PR guy and beg them to give Inside Sim Racing a review copy of WRC 6? Well, no. I’m sure we all know the game isn’t going to turn out much different than their previous effort, and the same can be said for Milestone’s Ride 2. I’m more concerned with the status of the genre as a whole. Thinking back to the Nintendo GameCube days, oddball stuff like MX Superfly and Simpsons Hit & Run were just as exciting – and enjoyable – as the high profile releases by Electronic Arts and Acclaim Entertainment. When I see Ride 2, I don’t just think of “oh God, another unfinished Milestone product, that’s their third this year“, I remember back to an era where I could legitimately take a chance on a random motorbike game I wasn’t even following because it might be addicting as hell and a sleeper hit – as MX Superfly was back in the day.

Now? Developers won’t even let respected outlets try their games, and said outlets have to make these comedic videos explaining why there’s a complete lack of footage regarding upcoming releases. In our case, I understand why developers refuse to cooperate with PRC.net. We’re assholes, and we’re going to be the guys that write off a $66 CDN NASCAR game because it has a rear sway bar adjustment in the garage menu, and the real cars don’t. But Inside Sim Racing? These guys aren’t assholes yet are receiving the same treatment.

So what gives? Is this the first tangible sign our favorite genre is on life support, or are we looking at a coincidental string of three shitty developers all releasing sub-par products at around the same time?

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51 thoughts on “No Review Copy for You!

  1. TotalBiscuit has been warning about the lack of review copies and the dangers of pre-ordering for years, but I guess it applies mostly to big titles that attract a lot of attention. Racing games are not that important in the grand scheme of things, so it’s kinda cute that publishers and devs think themselves so important as to avoid free coverage.

    The reason why racing game devs are so condescending and shitty toward their customers has got be because 1- simtards are little fanboys who will evangelize their favourite car game until the devs feel like they are gods, even as improvements to the physics over seevral years prove that it obviously wasn’t perfect before, duh 2- the studios are smaller and there is no PR/marketing department to speak of, so you’re dealing with the autistic coders and big babies directly instead of having professionals take care of communications.

    Buy your racing games on sale. Outside of AMS and Dirt Rally, I can’t think of one that deserves full price, especially with rF2 locking out online play and R3E being another shitshow of content and magic dollars.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. AMS is not perfect.still got bugs from GSCE like ai being retard aggressive at mid pit stop, ai failed to see u as a faster blue flag, On 60 laps race the ai can go 38 laps with soft tires..lel, wtf almost every series championship the race always start at Interlagos.

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      1. Judging sim titles on their VR support? Dirt Rally deserves nothing not because of the VR support, but because the physics is screwed up. Especially on tarmac.

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  2. I like the current direction that ISR is going in, John is a good host and has certainly improved and Billy’s commentary is entertaining and honest to say the least, however does anybody know what happened to Darin?

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    1. I assumed he just stays behind the scenes and keeps using his connections to get stuff to put on the channel, while maybe doing a bit of therapy on the side. His attitude was hurting the channel, so being in the spotlight perhaps wasn’t the best for him. There were a few co-hosts that didn’t last very long.

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    2. John and Billy presenting is the best thing that happened for ISR simply because they seem to have the knack of speaking in front of a camera. Darin’s meltdowns aside, he always seems to be constantly looking for his lines to say. While news anchor style of delivering the news will appear cheesy for the genre (I remember the few videos when I think they had a news anchor), some fluidity in delivering lines should still be there.

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  3. It all seems to have settled down for Darrin after his spat with Shawn , I do think he realises that he is best to sit back a little and take a breath. ” we all should from time to time” 🙂

    I wont get into who seems to have more favour than another when it comes to sim sites but on this occasion Team VVV seem to have the most details when it comes to WR6 .

    As for no one getting a copy prior to release …….It isn’t ready 🙂 …. Day one patch anyone !

    Before I go , did WRC 5 have any sim/game/fun value at all ?

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  4. Darin works for simexperience now,but come on James,how can you give isrtv any credit when they don’t even know the basics of how pc’s work,and if it ain’t iracing then it ain’t no good.
    Stopped watching them months ago,build reviews of Rf2 last 2mins max followed always by but iracing do this that better while build reviews of iracing last 30mins.
    That channel has no credability what so ever,they praise things if they are given the stuff to review and bash when it’s not,just look at the thrusmaster fanatec debarcle,now Thomas has started giving them shit they now praise them highly.
    Fucking regards.

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  5. I don´t think your article tells the truth. It´s again just prejudice and spreading rumors. I know very critical magazines like the German magazine 4players. They are very sensitive and critical about bad quality and they do not minth their mouth. But in opposite to your claim, they still get early copies and test copies to review the games. It´s just wrong that you just get copies when you praise even bad games.

    You just need to be objective and respectful with products which most professional magazines are. And here comes the point: you are not. Your articles are more or less like written from an angry teenager, using words of puberscent kids. I don´t know any professional magazine that uses words like shit, hell, crab, lie etc. which you use more often than the worst kids I know.

    And that´s why developers just ignore you.

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    1. As annoying as PRC posts often are, James is actually a far better writer than any other gaming journo I’ve read.

      Much as it pains me to acknowledge, he churns out an unbelievable amount of well written copy. Much of it may be garbage, but at least it’s well written garbage.

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      1. Yeah well Hitler was an intelligent person. Fuck your qualities if your attitudes and your actions are shit.
        I don’t care how good a writer is if he distorts reality.

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    2. Truth? “you can’t handle the truth”.

      We all have prejudices and I for one love a good rumor. This is a BLOG, welcome to the 21st century.

      As to any false claims, you need to re-read the article.

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    3. Or maybe they know people like “James”, Jim Sterling and a lot of YouTubers don’t care about losing ad revenue because they make their money elsewhere, so they will be more honest. Just protecting their business and their shitty product, nothing more, nothing less.

      There’s a reason reviews scales have gone from 1-10 to 7-10. Can’t hurt early sales and pre-orders, otherwise the publisher will advertise somewhere else. It’s not rocket science. What is rocket science?

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  6. Kylotonn are a bunch of french cock smokers, they won the PING award for best French racing game for WRC5 when it was the shittest game in history and as soon as it came out they completely ignored any normal questions about the game, the French are a useless and catty culture, the only thing they have ever done right is harassing muslims.

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  7. Another week, another idiotic PRC article where James predicts the end of mankind as we know it.

    Here’s a hint James – don’t try and sell us “the sky is falling!” opinions every single time you isolate any hint of shady or anti-consumer business practices by a publisher or developer. Its just so silly. For every shitty publisher trying to dupe us there are sim devs who are much more open.

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  8. I’m willing to bet Ride 2 may have a few issues, but I’m sure it’ll be better than the first. WRC6 too, looks to be much improved. I think I’m the only one on the planet that actually had fun with WRC5. It was pick and play simcade fun to slide those cars around.

    But I get it, everything is terrible and all games are shit on this site, so add these two as written off even before release.

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    1. So if it’s such an improvement, why aren’t they distributing review copies so that reviewers can get the word out? After all, it would only benefit them.

      I’ll tell you why. Because the game is still shit and they know it.

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      1. For WRC 5, there weren´t any review copies, too. All reviews were made after the game has been released. It´s a quite common practice for lots of games nowadays. I don´t support this practice, but I am not a preorder-player and just buy after reviews have been released. So I don´t care when the review happens.

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  9. Whenever I see a game or a movie or anything that isn’t distributed to reviewers in advance, I consider it an admission of poor quality. Not that anyone actually expects a WRC game to be any good, but this one must be especially dire. Then again, maybe that crazy Russian from last year will try to convince me otherwise.

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    1. Or maybe someone who know they have a solid product, and have nothing to hide? Sending a preview copy to PRC is on the opposite side of the spectrum than a preview embargo.

      The first shows confidence and the second shows you know deep inside your product is garbage.

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  10. Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo might have been a horrid technical mess, but at least it features very decent physical modelling and a passable force feedback, which is practically unheard of when it comes to Milestone these days. Give the credit where it’s due, will ya?

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      1. You are welcome. It’s a really nice move on their side they actually cared about making a demo. Too bad it mostly worked against themselves, since rarely anybody takes notice of the underlying physics.

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      1. That’s what DR fanboys would like you to believe. Also James, since he is one and wouldn’t bother with software products with technical issues. Not that I advocate half-assed programming habits, but at least in some cases some parts of a product outweigh the majority of its flaws. With SLRE being one good example of the above.
        Your mileage may vary, of course. That’s what the demo is for. If there is one, you should always try one approaching it as objective as possible.

        Like

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