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General : Game Preview Ethics

Posted Mar 28, 2006 by Dana Massey

While not directly MMO related, Kotaku has run an interesting series of stories on the ethics of previews in the gaming media. A couple weeks ago they opened a large can of worms with this article.

Today, they've followed it up with some direct evidence of how game companies purchased article placement on IGN/GameSpy and GameSpot. Here is a sample:

This source sent me some invoices for a game studio client. (For good measure, I faxed copies to my Gawker editors.) Several were from Gamespot, and while most of the items referred to legitimate ads, a couple mentioned something called “Front Door rotation”— or what Gamespot staffers refer to as a “gumball”. Gumballs are those thumbnail screenshots you see on the front page of Gamespot, when you visit the site— clicking on these takes you to an article about the game.

In the Gamespot invoice I looked at, a gumball for two weeks cost the media buyer’s client over $7000.

You can read the full article here.

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