***Update 4 – 2017-04-29 – 13:35 CEST***
I (Robin Ek, TGG) just found out that Brash Games have published a brief statement on their homepage about everything that’s been going down at their camp as of lately. So this is what Brash Games had to say about the matter:
“Brash Games acknowledges that we made mistakes in removing the accounts in question and we would like to take this opportunity to personally apologise to those concerned for our actions. We are deeply sorry for our actions and would like to reinstate the effected accounts as soon as possible. To that end we would like the effected parties to contact us via the contact form together with a list of articles / reviews effected and we will re-instate the accounts with immediate effect.We will also be making changes to the editing process and appointing a new editor to oversee the review process. We have learnt from our mistakes and can assure you that this will not happen in the future.” – Brash Games
So there you have it folks, and I truly hope that Brash Games mean what they said in their statement, so that it wasn’t just fancy words and empty promises…Well, time will tell.
Brash Games – A Brief Statement
***Update 3 – 2017-04-25 – 21:40 CEST***
Well, look at that…Brash Games are up and running again. Isn’t that funny? Because less than 48 hours ago the brashgames.co.uk domain was up for sale. Nevertheless, the site is very much alive again. So I take it that in Paul Ryan’s world “Things are back to normal now”. In other words, Brash Games shady business practices will continue with no doubt.
Other than that, I could help to notice the following text by the very end of Brash Games “The Deer God” PS4 review (thanks Just Lyle!):
“REVIEW CODE: Here at Brash Games we have a strict Review Code policy, our editor is the only member of staff at Brash Games permitted to obtain review code and distribute it within the Brash Games review team. No other person is permitted to request review code and or send review links or contact the publishers / developers in any way whatsoever as we have had several instances of fraud and deception by freelance reviewers asking for codes directly and not reviewing them, they have since been dismissed from Brash Games along with their profiles so please make sure you only send review code to a valid email address ending in @brashgames.co.uk. For all review code enquiries, please email [email protected]” – Brash Games
In other words, it seems like Paul Ryan is once again putting blame on those who he removed from his site previously (how classy…). You know, I can’t help to wonder what thoughts are going through Paul Ryan’s mind at this very moment. You see, I’m curious to know what his game plan is. Because it isn’t exactly like everything is forgiven and forgotten (the Internet never forgets). My point would be this. For how much longer does Ryan think that his going to be able to operate Brash Games like he has done it in the past? Well, time will tell. I just hope that those who work for Brash Games will find a better job else where as soon as possible.
***Update 2 – 2017-04-24 – 18:20 CEST***
It appears as if I (Robin Ek, TGG) was right about Paul Ryan (Brash Games Owner, PR-manager and review-code manager), because he has indeed gone underground. You see, I just found out that Brash Games domain (brashgames.co.uk) is up for sale:
So I take it that Paul Ryan is going to stay away from the games industry for a while. I hardly doubt that this will be the last time that we will hear of Ryan though. In other words, we could expect to see a brand-new Brash Games homepage under a new name in the future (I bet that Paul Ryan will use a different name for himself from start this time). Nevertheless, at least it’s a victory for the games industry that Brash Games is out of the loop for now.
***Update 1 – 2017-04-15 – 20:30 CEST***
It has come to my attention that further evidence has emerged about Brash Games (thanks Just Lyle!). You see, Jim Sterling got a hold of Ben McCurry (ex-Brash Games reviewer/writer). So Sterling let McCurry share his thoughts and experiences about Brash Games with the world via his homepage. Well, let’s just say that McCurry dropped the big bomb for sure. For starter, do you remember the picture that Brash Games used on their client page? (you can watch the picture down below). Guess what? It appears as if Brash Games just ripped that one directly from Nintendo’s homepage (it’s Nintendo’s Switch partner lineup).
And I’ll have you know that this is just the very start. As McCurry also told the following things:
No quality control whatsoever
“Contributors are free to post their reviews without even so much as a glance from the editor to prevent what I did from happening; as long as reviews “look alright”, Paul never passes on much of anything in the way of commentary or feedback. So much for calling himself an editor”
“The first is from Dylan Chaundy, a fellow former writer who told me that Paul Ryan asked him to change Wikipedia articles for the benefit of Brash Games, such as inserting review scores and links to Brash on relevant pages in order to put eyes on the website. This is, of course, an ethical nightmare and an absolutely unacceptable request for an editor and boss to make.”
Retcon scores on OpenCritic
“Worse for Paul, OpenCritic confirmed that by-lines and scores had been changed – whilst Paul had excluded Brash from the Wayback Machine, he had no idea that OpenCritic had their own internal Wayback that took HTML “screenshots” of reviews as soon as they went live [“HAHAHA” – Jim]. As it stands, they have the data – and it proves that articles were written by original authors as opposed to Brash Games, as well as retaining all original scores.”
Damage control/run and hide tactics via playing out the “Out of Business” card
“This was later compounded by my realization that Brash Games was listed as “Out of Business” on GameRankings, and that their pages had been removed not just from OpenCritic, but from the Wayback Machine too.”
Undisclosed paid content (gambling websites)
“There are dozens of articles attributed to the writer David James, and most of them contain advertorials to gambling websites that read like they were paid for. If this is the case, Brash Games were, and still are, featuring paid advertorials on their website under the guise of articles without properly stating they were advertisements – I’m in no way a legal or advertising expert, but Paul Ryan can probably expect a letter from the Advertising Standards Agency very soon.”
Discrimination against a mentally ill employee
“Paul Ryan openly told one of his employees that mental illness made him unemployable in a ploy to get that employee to return. This is disgusting. The outright lying, the removal of bylines, the libellous accusations, these were bad enough, but this? To drag mental illness into the fray, suggesting it makes a writer undesirable? Absolutely sickening.”
The list just goes on and on… And the more I hear about Brash Games and Paul Ryan, the more I dislike them both. So much so that I’m going to ask a law student friend of mine to take a look into the legal aspects of Brash Games shady business practices. Even so, all that Ben McCurry (the ex-Brash Games reviewer/writer) really wants is a public apology from Paul Ryan (the owner of Brash Games):
“I want Paul Ryan to apologise” – Ben McCurry
That is admirable, and it’s all the least that Paul Ryan could do at this time. However, I hardly doubt that Ryan would do that. As he then would admit that his guilty of everything that he and Brash Games have been accused off. Nevertheless, props to McCurry and the other ex-Brash Games folks that have spoken up about Brash Games shady business practices as of lately.
I (Robin Ek, TGG) originally intended to publish this post about three days ago. However, for each day that went by. I was presented with new information about Brash Games shady business practices. Nevertheless, I was able to collect everything that I needed in-order to nail this OP down. So let’s jump directly into the action shall we? Before I do that though, I’m going to point out that Brash Games was formally known as “AceGamez” (AceGamez is said to be just as bad as Brash Games is today). Furthermore, Brash Games Owner, PR-manager and review-code manager Paul Ryan appears to have changed his name into David James throughout Brash Games homepage (the name “Paul Ryan” has been removed from Brash Games homepage as a whole).
Right off the bat. Even though I’ve been working in the games industry since 2004, I still haven’t seen so many unethical fouls being done by one single site in my whole career… And that includes everything from:
– Break embargoes
– Don’t pay their writers (it’s said that everyone knew that they were working for free, but I doubt that. As no one can work for free forever)
– Block everyone on Twitter who don’t agree or criticises them
– Give zero feedback and editor love to their posts
– Remove writers from the site if they stop writing for Brash Games
– Don’t disclose their paid content (at least for now)
– Retcon scores from ex-writers, and then changing them to the editor’s liking
Even so (despite all evidence and facts that have been presented to Paul Ryan) Brash Games is just denying it all, and making up really bad excuses:
“we have had several instances of fraud and deception by freelance reviewers asking for codes directly and not reviewing them, they have since been dismissed from Brash Games along with their profiles” – Brash Games
And, yes, you guessed it. Paul Ryan has no desired to comment on any of the things which he and Brash Games have been accused of:
It’s also worth pointing out that Brash Games have accused their ex-writers of everything from plagiarism, failing to meet deadlines, illegitimately requesting review codes to not being able to live up to Brash Games content standards. Well, a lot of ex-Brash Games writers have spoken up about these accusations (and other matters), and nomuru2d (Ex-Brashgames reviewer) states that it’s nothing less than a big lie:
“Calling bullshit – I wasn’t part of any review site at the time that he did this to me. It was 6 months from when my computer broke down, to when I could get access to one for review purposes, and he never bothered reinstating me. I explained to him what happened at least 2 times, and he refused to communicate outside of “you missed your deadline and haven’t bothered reviewing this one game, even though I should totally know better since we’ve been corresponding by email before I decided to shut you out entirely”. – nomuru2d Ex-Brashgames reviewer
You know, even if there was some truth to the accusations that Brash games have accused their ex-writers for (I don’t believe for a second that every single ex-Brash Games writer has committed any of these things though). That still wouldn’t give them the right to take away their credit for their past reviews, posts and whatnot. As it’s such a low move to make, and on a personal level. We have only had two “incidents” like this with two past writers, and that would be the following:
1. One signed up to review a couple of games, but he never got the job done. However, before I could boot the guy. He tossed the towel in himself.
2. The other guy was just a slacker, he also tried to use us for his own personal gain. So we just dropped the guy, and that was the end of that (no drama whatsoever).
Furthermore, both of them got booted down to the “guest writer” account (it’s never a good idea to have a lot of inactive admin accounts, as it’s just asking for security problems to happen). In other words, most of their posts are still to be found on our site. So I/we have not removed anything, and their names are still on the posts as well (we do NOT toss inactive or ex-writers into the guest writer account. So those two cases are the only time that I’ve ever done anything like that). This is also the reason why everyone (new writers) starts off as a guest writer on our site. As we want to see what the person in question is made off. Because sadly enough, it’s not fun for me/us when someone has been given a 60 USD game, and the review never gets done. As I’m the one who has to explain to the publisher (or game developer) what went wrong. Simply put, people have to earn our trust and respect, and in return, they will get the same back (plus payment, free stuff, event tickets and credit for their work).
So yeah, I think it’s safe to say that Brash Games is pure cancer to the games industry. As they exploited their writers, and break pretty much every ethical rule there is. I guess that’s why Ben McCurry (ex-Brash Games reviewer) took a big swing at Brash Games on his way out in his Pac-Man 256 review:
“A good example of a garbled mess is Brash Games; this very website that strips authors of their writing credits when they leave the site, later attributing them to the sole owner and editor, Paul Ryan, making your work completely pointless, just as Pac-Man is completely pointless after level 256.Speaking of ghosts, did you know that Brash Games deliberately ghosted themselves from Metacritic, GameRankings, and OpenCritic (marking themselves as “out of business on Meta and GR, which is an outrageous and egregious lie – it’s here right now) to avoid having any sort of public record of reviews available which would have attributed work to the proper authors?
It’s true! In fact, when reviewers leave, work gets automatically attributed to “Brash Games”, which is solely operated by Paul Ryan, thus making it seem like he did all the work. OpenCritic are doing an investigation into the behaviour of the site and everything. Namco Bandai shy away from the sound of silence, which is, at the time of writing, exactly what I received when I announced my resignation to the editor Paul Ryan and clarified I would leave Brash as soon as possible. No email, no apology, no “I wish you the best in your future endeavours”, nothing. Pure radio silence; the only acknowledgement I received was that my name was pulled from the contributors list quietly. Some might call that cowardly – I’ll leave it to your interpretation.
I thought this game was great, but I’m going to – on behalf of Brash Games – award it a 1 out of 10. I do this safe in the knowledge that the editor will change it later without me knowing to fit the score HE would prefer. This is not an exaggeration: review scores selected by authors were changed by the editor without warning, explanation, or consideration, and several alumni of Brash Games corroborate this. As such, I would not want to begrudge my former editor another opportunity to do this. By the way, if it wasn’t completely clear, with the publishing of this review, I quit Brash Games for the way it treats its writers, and I will endeavour to make sure new writers do not fall into the same trap. Nobody will pay me for this – it’s not a job that pays in the cash money sense, but the sense of satisfaction that I’ll get from making sure a talented writer doesn’t get taken advantage of is more than worth it. Good luck on Monday for when the OpenCritic report gets released.” – Ben McCurry, ex-Brash Games reviewer
Well, Ben McCurry sure didn’t hold back on his thoughts and feelings about Brash Games, and I’ll have you know that I’ve been collecting information about them and their shady practices all week long (that’s why it has taken me quite some time to finish this OP). So McCurry is far from alone to hold these thoughts about Brash Games. In the matter of fact, I think I’ve seen +10 people who have spoken up about Brash Games for the last couple of days. That is also why I find it very hard to believe that every single person would lie about their experiences with Brash Games. Furthermore, they would not have anything to gain from doing so (who would hire a liar?). I would also like to point out that new evidence against Brash Games appears to be dropped for each day that goes by (more and more ex-Brash Games writers dear to speak up about their past experiences with Brash Games now).
For example, just today I found out that Brash Games appears to have quite a lot of undisclosed paid content for online casinos on their site (watch the”B.S Patrol: Brash Games – Secret Gambling Addicts, Or A Non-Disclosure Nightmare?” and “The Follow Up: Brash Games And The Link To Online Casinos” video for more information on that matter). So let’s just say that there are much more to Brash Games then one might think (how deep do you think the rabbit hole goes?).
So based on what I’ve seen so far. I would say that Brash Games is guilty of most of the things that they have been accused of. I guess that’s the reason why Paul Ryan has digged himself a really deep hole to hide and cover in. In other words, I bet that he will try to re-brand Brash Games in the near future. As it’s going to be really hard for him to continue his shady business practices now that his been caught with his pants down, and on a personal level. I hate when people take advantage of kids who’re just trying to get some experience in the games industry (or any other industry for that matter). So Paul Ryan represents everything that I despise. Sadly enough, I know more than well what it’s like to be exploited by unprofessional employers who’re just using kids as free labor. You see, a Stockholm based game retailer tried to rip me off back in 2006. Because they refused to pay me the 1,100 USD which they owe me.
Long story short, thanks to my new employer in Stockholm I got a lot of contacts in the games industry. So I just said to my previous employer (the company that owe me 1,100 USD) that if don’t receive my money within one month, then I would drop the story to Sweden’s biggest Gaming magazines and sites. Well, guess what? I got paid, just like that (I didn’t want to solve the problem like that, but I had no other choice). So I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the fence, as I’ve been on both sides (I have more stories like this to share. So I might do that some day).
The hard truth of the day is that there will always be sites, companies and people who will try to use kids for their own gain. So here’s some free advice from me:
1. Always do a check up on the site or company that you intend to work for (what do the current and former works say about them?)
2. Make sure that you get a fine print of what’s expected of you, and what you will get in return for your time and effort.
3. Always have backups of your content, and archive links to the posts that you’ve made (it’s your safety line if things start to go out of hands).
4. Don’t work for free unless you absolutely have to (for experience, for example).
5. If you feel like you are being threatened badly, then leave the site (or company) that you’re currently working for as soon as possible.
6. Learn your basic rights.
7. It’s always a good idea to have a lawyer whom you could contact if you got any questions to ask about working condition laws and such.
So “hopefully” my list will be able to help people to avoid being used by sites (or companies) like Brash Games, and if any ex-Brash Games writers would like to share their stories with us about Brash Games. Then feel free to contact us via [email protected], and since we’re looking for more writers and reviewers at the moment. You are also most welcome to send in your personal letter and CV as well (thank you for your time!).
As for Brash Games. I have a feeling that this won’t be the last time that we will hear about them. Because just like Brash Games own site owner (Paul Ryan) said via e-mail to his writers “Things are back to normal now”, in other words “business as usual”. Well, time will tell. Nevertheless, I’ve done my very best to expose the shady practices of Brash Games. So I truly hope that young inexperienced and hungry writers will avoid Brash Games like the plague after my OP publication about them.
And with that said, what’s your take on this matter? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!
Paul Ryan of Brash Games
Brash Games (brashgames.co.uk) not crediting their writers?
BrashGames continues to de-auth old reviews
Paul Ryan (Brash Games) Vs ex-writers
Meg Bethany – part 1 (ex-Brash Games writer)
Meg Bethany – part 2 (ex-Brash Games writer)
Meg Bethany – part 3 (ex-Brash Games writer)
Olly Smith – part 1 (ex-Brash Games writer)
Olly Smith – part 2 (ex-Brash Games writer)
Olly Smith – part 3 (ex-Brash Games writer)
Brash Games blocks Meg Bethany on Twitter
Revatar (said ex-Brash writer)
Henry Osadzinski (the proof)
Brash Games and the their undisclosed paid content for online casinos
Paul Ryan/David James (the owner of Brash Games)
Brash Games accuses their ex-reviewers of review code theft
James Moore – part 1 (ex-Brash Games writer)
James Moore – Part 2 (ex-Brash Games writer)
Kotaku on Brash Games
The Follow Up: Brash Games And The Link To Online Casinos
KotakuInAction (the complete Brash Games list)
Ben McCurry’s Pac-Man 256 Review
Brash Games continues its unethical practices
This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.
Robin “V-Act” Ek
Editor in chief
The Gaming Ground
More by Robin Ek: