***update 1 – 2015-11-22 – 13:16 CET***
I just wanted to clarify that Kotaku is indeed owned by Gawker Media. Thanks to GunbladeKnight for pointing that out (sorry, my bad). Just now I also found out that Markus “Notch” Persson stated the following about Kotaku two days ago:
“@TenebraeAeterna @Boogie2988 I’m neutral on most things, but not on Kotaku. They’re the Fox News of gaming.” – Markus “Notch” Persson, via Twitter
I think that “Notch” was really spot-on with his comment on Kotaku. As that´s exactly what they are, the Fox News of Gaming.
Scandals and lousy journalism ethics and standards
Even though I have never been a frequent reader of Kotaku, I have still not been able to avoid all the scandals which they have caused over the years (for those who didn´t know it, Kotaku has actually existed for almost 12 years time now). And when #GamerGate took off back in August 2014, Kotaku (and other similar sites such as Polygon and Rock, Paper, Shotgun for example) were under surveillance day and night by GG (and it´s been like that ever since August last year). Simply put, Kotaku wouldn´t be able to get away with murder anymore (thus all the posts on the deepfreeze homepage). So no, I was not surprised to hear that Ubisoft and Bethesda choose to blacklist Kotaku. I mean, just take a look at some of Kotaku´s previous scandals:
– “We Might Be Witnessing The ‘Death of An Identity”
– “Kotaku and Polygon messed up big time with their Yooka-Laylee articles”
– Kotaku Writer Paid $800 To Dev He Was Sleeping With, Without Disclosure
– The Problems with Kotaku Lie Much Deeper than Corruption
And let´s not forget that Kotaku also leaked insider information for Fallout 4 and Assassin’s Creed Victory (now called Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate) as well. And I bet that Hideki Kamiya (Platinum Games) hasn’t forgotten about the inflammatory headline which Kotaku used for a story about him either (Forbes called Kotaku out on this back in 2013, so they changed the headline shortly after they were called out by Forbes). Well, you get my point. Kotaku´s list over scandals and lousy journalism ethics and standards is never-ending pretty much (not to mention Kotaku´s lack of disclosure).
Kotaku´s “A Price Of Games Journalism” article
So when I found out about Stephen Totilo´s “A Price Of Games Journalism” article (yes, I have read the whole thing), I was not quite sure what I should expect at first. I mean, would Kotaku (Totilo in this case) attempt to do a full damage control kind of procedure? Or would they blame their own faults on someone else? Well, I would say that the article was more of an explanation piece on their behalf. In short, Kotaku tried to explain and understand why Ubisoft and Bethesda Softworks had blacklisted them. To be fair though, I don´t think that either Bethesda, Ubisoft (or most of the Gaming community) bought into what Totilo wrote. As it´s a matter of trust and respect. Something of which Kotaku has broken many times in the past (repeatedly).
Anyhow, this is a quote from Stephen Totilo´s “A Price Of Games Journalism” article (it´s actually the very beginning of Totilo´s post):
“For the past two years, Kotaku has been blacklisted by Bethesda, the publisher of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series. For the past year, we have also been, to a lesser degree, ostracized by Ubisoft, publisher of Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and more.
In those periods of time, the PR and marketing wings of those two gaming giants have chosen to act as if Kotaku doesn’t exist. They’ve cut off our access to their games and creators, omitted us from their widespread mailings of early review copies and, most galling, ignored all of our requests for comment on any news stories.
Neither company has officially told us that we’ve been cut off. For a time, it was possible to make a good-faith assumption that this was just a short-term disagreement. Maybe their spam filters were misplacing our emails. Maybe they’d get over it. Or perhaps they feared a repeat of 2007, when then-Kotaku editor-in-chief Brian Crecente embarrassed Sony out of blacklisting this outlet for reporting the existence of then-unannounced PlayStation projects.” – Stephen Totilo, Kotaku
So in other words, for over two years time Bethesda and Ubisoft has ignored the existence of Kotaku. Well, I´m not naive. So I think it´s quite obvious that it´s a trust-related kind of issue. Why else would Ubisoft and Bethesda blacklist and ignore Kotaku for so long? At least, I can´t think of any other explanation than that. And it´s no secret to anyone that Kotaku is pretty well-known for “yellow journalism”, “click bait headlines”, and their questionable journalistic practices. Some would even say that Kotaku is the Vox and Gawker of Gaming news sites. (it´s because Gawker Media OWNS Kotaku) In short, that Kotaku is a tabloid site. And since Stephen Totilo posted his “A Price Of Games Journalism” article on the 19th of November. Twitter has been full of tweets such as this:
Kotaku Vs game developers, publishers and Gamers
However, there was one particular tweet that caught my attention more than any other tweet. And that was a tweet by Bioware´s Eric Kozlowsky (senior environment artist), whom called out Kotaku´s Patrick Klepek (as seen in the picture down below). Basically, Kozlowsky told Klepek that Kotaku only leaks game information for clicks and revenue (money). And you know what? I think that Kozlowsky is right. It´s all about the clicks after all. I mean, what other explanations could there possibly be to Kotaku´s behavior? (their past and present scandals).
Sure, I/we (The Gaming Ground) are not perfect (we have existed for less than two years Vs Kotaku´s 12 years), but we have never done anything of the stuff which Kotaku has done in the past (nor do we intend to). And we always double-check with developers and publishers before we post breaking news, press releases and such (especially when there is a time embargo involved in the mix). We also try to follow our ethics policys at all times. And if we make any mistakes, we try to fix them as soon as possible (we will of course make a public excuse if necessary).
I would also like to point out that there is a big difference between wanting to inform the Gaming community about news, or how bad or good a game is, and leaking “sensitive” information time after time again (we also state if a game is an alpha or a final production when we write previews, reviews and so on). For example. I would never pre-publish something, which has a strict time embargo. And we have the same practice for interviews as well (the final production must be approved by the person whom we did the interview with, before we publish the interview). It´s called mutually respect and trust. And that is something which you have to earn.
Sure, I´m not a huge fan of blacklists (It’s not a good practice, and it´s definitely not something that will improve the gaming industry´s image either). However, I do somewhat understand why Bethesda and Ubisoft have decided to use the practice of blacklisting against Kotaku (maybe it was their last resort?). Nevertheless, the damage has already been done. So the question is if Ubisoft and Bethesda will continue to ignore Kotaku from this day forwards, or if they plan to remove them from their blacklist and start working with Kotaku again?
I actually have a much more important question to ask. Does it really matter? I mean, is Kotaku even relevant anymore? In a way, it feels like their time is up. Especially since alternative Gaming sites is growing like crazy right now (Techraptor, Gamenosh, NicheGamer with many more). What I´m trying to say is this, there are plenty of alternatives to Kotaku, and more and more people have started to realize this. So who knows? Kotaku might not even be around the same time next year? And I think I speak for everyone when I say that we do not want any corrupt game journalists in the games industry.
With that said, what do you think about the fact that Bethesda and Ubisoft have blacklisted Kotaku? And what is your thoughts on Kotaku in general? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!
Robin “V-Act” Ek
The Gaming Ground
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