Can exclusives really be trusted after that? And that was in 1994!

Whatever the final result, a publisher had to have agreed to the exclusive, and publishers don't do things for free. Whether it's advertising space, a top billing, or the guarantee of a high score, there are expectations in place, and by accepting an exclusivity offer, I think it says a lot about you as a writer. Unless you're Game Informer and you're reviewing Aliens vs. Predator, apparently.

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Nobody is perfect, and it is unrealistic to expect that reviewers can always be unblemished bastions of journalistic brilliance that never make mistakes. I've made my share of mistakes with reviews, and I sometimes think we as an industry can be far too worried about what publishers may think of low scores, or are too scared of our own readers and wish not to offend them by criticizing a major release. Much of the time, I try not to take the industry too seriously, and I can brush off some of the review business' issues as simple mistakes.

Something like this, however, really needs to be looked at and questioned. As reviewers, we certainly need to ask ourselves if being "first" is worth looking like a lackey of the marketing department. If you wrote a review that was completely honest, I think you have even more of a reason not to belittle your work by slapping on that exclusive tag.

In fact, I don't even blame those who make the offers. They are public relations representatives. It's their job to get a game as much exposure as possible and to help get things sold. A publisher needs to sell games to survive, and I'm not so naive as to blame them for trying to maximize their good publicity. I've never thought less of a PR rep who makes an offer, but I can't help cast a suspicious eye upon anybody who takes them up on it.

I need to stress once again that I am not accusing reviewers of willingly sacrificing their integrity for exclusivity. There are people on NeoGAF and News4Gamers who can do that far better than I can and with a far more liberal use of the caps lock. I hate that so many people are more content to accuse reviewers of being bad at their jobs rather than accept that, sometimes, not everybody agrees over what makes a good videogame. It is frustrating that we'll never move beyond that, while reviewers themselves aren't helping the situation.

What I am suggesting is that perhaps they are devaluing their words and diminishing their own profession by happily radiating the appearance of a bought review. Reviewers ought to have more respect for themselves and their readers for that.

Jim Sterling gives the concept of exclusive reviews a 4/10.

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