The PSP, the DS and "Preview Bias"

Ombudsman reader Benny Torres recently sent me an e-mail airing his concerns that bias was creeping in to Electronic Gaming Monthly’s coverage of the battle between the PSP and Nintendo DS. Torres says that recent coverage in EGM and on 1up.com has let the “PSP gets away with awesome previews and forecasts for games … but then on the same token shows a couple of games for the DS and makes comments like ‘it remains to be seen if gamers will warm up to its innovations.'”

Torres continues, saying that “the proof is in the cover. Look at this month’s [February 2005] cover. Its about ‘The years of the Portables,’ not the PSP. … The PSP is front and center on the cover, the DS is literally BEHIND the PSP.”

“The reason for that design is a simple one: Out of all those portables featured on our cover, the PSP is the only one anyone would consider ‘the next big thing,'” responds Dan “Shoe” Hsu, EGM’s Editor-in-Chief. “We have an enthusiast-focused publication, so it’s smarter for us to show a PSP up front at this point, as that’s the system hardcore gamers want to read about more, as opposed to the DS, which they all already own.” Shoe went on to say that Nintendo’s secrecy about the DS’ design made a similar DS-focused cover impossible until it was too late.

Cover design issues are all well and good, as are specific allegations of biased language for either side (see a sidebar post on this issue). But it’s Shoe’s next response that really gets to the heart of the matter.

Torres claims that EGM’s PSP bias can be seen in the magazine’s description of each system’s control scheme. While the PSP is lauded for allowing you to customize your control scheme in Coded Arms, “The DS gets ripped in most of its reviews for lack of a specific control method in its design. EGM instead concentrates on the ‘flexibility’ of the PSP game… instead of the lack of dual sticks,” Torres said.

Shoe calls this “selective reading,” because Torres is comparing a review for the DS to a preview for the PSP. “In a preview, we usually don’t put any final judgements on a product. Instead, we typically tell you about its features, its potential, etc. In a review, it’s no-holds-barred.” Shoe cites a more neutral assessment of DS controls in the Super Mario 64 DS preview: “As you might expect, controls are different, with the option to use the touch pad to move (and D-pad to jump, crouch, etc.) or a more standard setup where the second screen merely controls the camera.”

Shoe’s right, in a sense. Comparing a preview of a PSP game to a review of a DS game can be considered “selective reading.” It could also be considered accurate reading, at this point in time. Since the release of the Nintendo DS in the U.S., coverage of that system has shifted from accomodating previews to harsher reviews. Because the PSP isn’t out in the U.S. yet, all the coverage is still in the glowing preview stage. The coverage will balance out over time, of course, but until those first PSP reviews come out, the DS is in essence being penalized for being released first.

Shoe almost acknowledges this when responding to Torres’ complaint about the lack of EGM coverage for much-maligned PSP negatives like load times and battery life. “It’s coming,” Shoe says. “We’re actually covering some of these things in our April 2005 issue, which comes out right before the PSP’s supposed March launch. We’ve been waiting on a proper PSP launch guide because we’re hoping to test out U.S. (not Japanese) units, and because we want to release that story right before consumers could actually buy the system itself…when that information is most useful and timely.”

The problem here — the slight ‘bias’ Torres is seeing — has nothing to do with the systems and everything to do with the uncritical nature of most previews. Shoe is right to point out that comparing PSP and DS previews paints a much more balanced picture, but Torres is right to point out that current writing about DS games (which includes some harsh reviews) might come off worse than current writing about the PSP (mainly gentle previews). Given the current abscence of informed, hands-on views for PSP games, readers are left with no choice but to compare two very different types of writing.

The question then becomes: do readers realize the inherent difference between a review and a preview? Do they incorporate this difference into their reaction to a video game feature? I think it’s fair to say that most readers do just that. It doesn’t take a lot of experience with the average video game magazine to realize that — in the abscence of actual play time– most previews will put the hype-building focus on what’s new and exciting in a game, and leave coverage of flaws until the review. Even though this isn’t usually explicitly stated, this “preview bias” is pretty much an accepted fact to people who read any significant amount of video game writing. I know a few people who won’t even read previews because they feel any information they contain might be totally worthless by the time the review comes out.

This brings up another good question: Should it be this way? If previews can’t provide a decently balanced picture of what a game will be like, should we even bother writing them? To this, I’d also say yes. Previews provide an essential service to readers by letting them know about potentially interesting games long before they see them on store shelves. Even if previews are uniformly glowing, the publication still exercises editorial control in choosing which games to feature (those hopefully being the games they see the most potential in, and not the ones that buy the most advertising. But that’s an entirely different issue).

But is there another way to write a preview? I seem to remember Next Generation magazine taking a more balanced approach in their preview writing, allowing space for the game’s developers to talk a game up, but also pointing out any potential flaws they see at the end of the preview. Usually these flaws were accompanied by a line like, “hopefully the team will be able to work out these kinks before the launch,” but at least they were not totally ignored.

This could be my own “selective reading” at work, though (unfortunately my Next Generation collection is in storage about an hour away, but I will try to confirm my memories when I get a chance). Regardless, such “preview bias,” is definitely a problem that the video game journalism industry has to deal with. There’s no one correct answer to the problem; how a publication deals with preview bias might depend on their audience, their writing style, and their goals for the preview section and the magazine as a whole. Some might want to publish a harsh disclaimer about the format in every preview section. Some publications may want to incorporate a more critical tone to their previews. I don’t think any publication should totally ignore the issue, though. At least, they shouldn’t if they want people like Mr. Torres to read their magazine.

24 thoughts on “The PSP, the DS and "Preview Bias"

  1. Does anyone remember all the hype surrounded the PS2, Gamecube, and X-Box? Every Sony fan thought that the PS2 was being left behind by the media to make room for the X-Box and Gamecube, the Nintendo fans thought that the Gamecube was being passed off as a console for little kids, and the X-Box supporters claimed it was being treated like a red-headed step child.

    I went back through some older issues of EGM that covered those three systems, and I found a lot of articles that showed the positives and negatives of EACH SYSTEM! I even found one where they compared the X-Box and Gamecube, and I could find no bias either way. In another issue, I found an article, I think it was about half a page to a full page, where EGM reported numerous companies complaining about the architecture of the PS2.

    I own all 3 systems, and I have no bias towards any of them. After going back through my collection of EGM I found that the flaws they reported on each system were very true.

    In the end, it’s just like news fanboys flaming about the political biases news stations have.

  2. I did get the feeling that I was being brushed off as a “fanboy” by Hsu… and I just ignored it. Hopefully it just begin brought to his attention will get things to change. This is something I’ve never seen at EGM (I thought their Xbox vs. GCN feature a while ago was awesome, and I only owned a GCN at the time). I look foward something similar for these two systems once they’ve been established. The PSP excites me to be sure, but not in the ways thats its being hyped. I’ve always gotten the general feeling that the EGM staff had a large case of group think when it came to the DS and the PSP… with the DS getting an N-gage like reception even.

    -Benny

  3. “You know what they say… if people are getting angry, you must be doing something right.”

    People getting angry at you can also be a sign of doing something incredibly gauche and wrong.

  4. Goodness gracious, could this be an echo from our past as gamers? An echo of an echo? Folk, the past is repeating itself… again. Welcome to the thick of bipartisan console wars. I’m reminded at every comment and paranoia of the 16-bit wars; fanboys get all huffy and puffy about their system, publications get trashed for doing their job, and it will never end.

    It’s unfair to compare the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP: one looks like a developer had a “Tolkien experience” and made something amazing that stretches the very bounds of convention, and the other looks like the usual handheld in a flashy shell. So what if you don’t happen to like the crazy stuff? The DS is the sort of thing that changes the way a gamer plays and thinks, while the PSP is a sure-shot into the handheld gaming business.

    Sony’s plan all along was to make a solid device that took few risks against Nintendo: the graphics are stronger, the launch line-up is fierce, and it’s designed to look nothing like a Nintendo device (despite mimicking the control arrangement of a Game Boy Advance). Even I, who grew up with Nintendo and sided with the SNES in the 16-Bit Wars, concede that Sony is advertising a superior device with a killer line-up. I’ll buy one, on top of the Nintendo DS I already own.

    I’ll gladly field any questions at layer03(at)hotmail(dot)com.

    Anonymously,
    Angry Jeff

  5. It’s me, Benny.

    I agreed 100% with the view on previews, which is why I usually just skip over them. I think the internet has replaced the entire previews sections of magazines for me.

    The difference (for me…) is that the “Portable Wars” was a cover story. As a reader I interpret that as a bit more worthy of my reading than a preview (although looking at it, most cover stories are simply long more in-depth previews). I suppose that was the reason the comments stood out to me.

    I knew that putting specific comments in there was going to get me in trouble. Obviously I didn’t remember those quotes in the sidebar (although I probably did read them). In the end, I look foward to more in-depth coverage of the PSP and the DS. Both deserve space in the magazine simply because both are so important to the industry.

    -Benny

  6. “You make it sound like no one is allowed to like PSP, and that makes you a biased troll. If you can’t see with your own eyes why someone could possibly like PSP over DS then you’re just as bad as a nazi”

    Had you read his response, (s)he offered a level and unbiased view of the PSP’s issues. i.e., all show and no go.

    Yes, the PSP’s graphics are superior to that of the DS; anyone who argues otherwise needs only to look at the two systems side by side. Beyond that, things look very bad for the PSP in its own right. Relatively high defect rate, few original titles, flawed design, high price of [near-proprietary] removable media, short battery life – these are all things that are baked in from the beginning by Sony. But because Sony has been paying to have it plastered all over the internet and magazines (like EGM), people in America think they absolutely have to have one. The Japanese gaming public isn’t as entranced, obviously, and software sales for the DS continue to eclipse PSP’s.

    If you’d like to take a real world example, would you still buy a Porsche if you knew there was a high probability a wheel would fall off soon after you took delivery? Sure, you’d look cool while it works, but not only would you have to deal with its faults – tricky rear-engine handling, no luggage space, wallet-crushing insurance costs – you’d always have the specter of instant destruction hanging over your head.

    If someone likes the PSP over the DS, that’s their opinion. You can exercise your stupidity and bias with your wallet. For me, I’d prefer to wait and see if there’s any improvement both in the design and the software.

    djSyndrome

  7. Frankly, to the idiot responding to modchip, get a clue. You make it sound like no one is allowed to like PSP, and that makes you a biased troll. If you can’t see with your own eyes why someone could possibly like PSP over DS then you’re just as bad as a nazi

  8. I think you need to be careful about differentiating between fair coverage and a matter of opinion. Just because you see DS as an equal or superior system to the PSP doesn’t make it so. What you’re calling a case of group think could be the legitimate feeling of the folks writing EGM – that the DS simply is not that great of a system.

  9. I do think there is a very positive PSP bias in gaming media, overall. If you read most sites or magazines right after E3 2004, you’d think the PSP was the Second Coming of Christ for gaming by the way most people gushed over it. I often wonder if these writers went to the same E3 I went to, because I know that at the E3 I was at the PSP wasn’t PLAYABLE at all. Yet, many sites and magazines (EGM included 3 editors to 2) chose the PSP as handheld of show.

    Was there some super-secret room where editors of other sites and magazines could go and do more than move Metal Gear Acid’s camera or run around one little town in some RPG? I know the site I work for didn’t know about any super secret room like that… and we must have done something good to Sony because we had 4 invites to their E3 party, and we never got more than 2 before.

    Oddly enough, I found that the most often cited reason for the PSP to be “the next cool handheld” was because of its sleek and sexy look. Sure, nothing was really playable, but who cares when the damn thing looks good?

    I’m not even a handheld gamer. I don’t even own a GB or GBA. But I liked the DS, not because it had a sleek and sexy look (the prototypes didn’t), but I could at least play something on it. I could watch the PSP, not even being able to pause videos on the units showing videos.

    I wrote an < HREF="http://www.blogger.com/r?http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gamesarefun.com%2Fgamesdb%2Feditorial.php%3Feditorialid%3D7">editorial<> about the way most sites handled the PSP coverage. Honestly, I think I’m one of the only game journalists out there who wrote about possible bad things with the PSP before it’s Japanese launch. Everyone else, EGM included, seemed to have their heads stuck so far up Sony’s ass it wasn’t funny. Sometimes it’s nice to not be in a position where we rely on advertisers for revenue. Sure, we’re a small site, but we make due. And since we don’t have lots of advertisers, we don’t have to worry about pissing them off.

    Maybe it’s just me, but because I don’t often follow the views that most others do, I just don’t get invovled in the hype that other places try and generate. Hell, I wrote our multiplayer part of our Halo 2 review, and I called Bungie out on mistakes made in the multiplayer… funny how these issues I speak of in the review aren’t mentioned in any other review out there. Not by EGM, GameSpot, IGN, or any others. And the problems I have with Halo 2’s multiplayer are problems ANYONE who has played FPS games online for more than a day should have as well. We gave Halo 2 a 10, but it wasn’t my choice for a score. The single player game is bland, same old same old with 2 weapons basically, and multiplayer issues are horrendous in my eyes. Sure, I still play it online, but I see more and more cheating, and I still see problems in the basic design of the multiplayer. I wouldn’t give Halo 2 above an 8.5.

    By the same token, I don’t consider the PSP to be the big thing in handheld gaming. A sexy look to the unit does not make the games any good, that’s up to the games. Yet, I’m in the minority, because everyone else orgasms over the sexy look of the PSP, and proclaims it God’s gift to handhjeld gaming.

  10. Uh, yeah. I think you’re a bit confused. EGM did at least 3 covers on the Dreamcast and how great it was, including two while I was there talking about the great games Sega was releasing and what they needed to do to combat the PS2. The love for the DC didn’t just appear after the system was dead. I can say that from experience.

    Broken promises from a system manufacturer? Um…welcome to the world of videogames. Every single manufacturer has been guilty of the stuff you’re talking about at one time or another. I remember sitting at the press conference where Bernie Stolar called a fully online Diablo a launch title for the Dreamcast. Or how about the SNES CD drive?

    Oh, and if you really remember clearly, everyone was pushing the hell out of the N64 when it was announced. The tech demos (which looked a thousand times better than any of the actual games did) were thrown at readers time and time again. In fact, up until the point the PS1 was released, a lot of the media had written it off, convinced Sega and Nintendo were going to easily continue their dominance of the market.

    It’s really easy nowadays to dismiss Sony’s success as the result of the unfair enthusiast press hype machine, but it’s simply not true. Sony got where they are today by making mostly right decisions, while Sega and Nintendo got complascent.

    – Sewart

  11. Thanks for the worthless sales pitch, Mr. Modchip. You are an asset to the community. Whoops, I misspelled “asshat.”

    Anyhow, I’ve found that the typical reader takes any coverage of any type in the gaming press at face value. Show them a screenshot, and they will comment about how such and such either “rocks” or “sucks.” If you tell them what they want to hear about a game, they will act accordingly, buying or not buying (and even doing stupid things like the poster above did, jumping on the internet and babbling like a moron). I think it’s the reader’s responsibility to take all commentary, and even screenshots, and process them for what it’s truly worth, but what I’ve seen in my casual observations is that most people lack this responsibility.

    For example, some magazine out there gave Paper Mario a 6/10, or something like that. I had read the review before buying the game, but I bought it anyways. The author’s complaints about the game were partially valid, but were ultimately, IMHO, inconsequential to the overall amount of entertainment to be found in the game. However, one has to wonder how many people out there just looked at the number, read the author’s dectractions of the game, and didn’t bother any further with it.

    OTOH, look at Halo 2, which universally (and undeservedly, IMO) garnered near-perfect scores across the board. Don’t get me wrong, many Halo players agree that the multi-player makes up for all its many other flaws. But when PREVIEWS of the game feature shots of full-scale ground combat in an Earth setting, presumably defending Earth in a ground war, and the focus of the final product has nothing to do with that, and is simply incomplete as far as I’m concerned (no resolution), you also have to wonder how many people’s decision to buy the game were affected by that. Granted, these previews were provided by MS themselves, and were not overly publicized in the press. But my point is that the onus of finding the truth about a game, released or not yet, still lies with the individual.

    Getting a little back on topic, what can the press do to distinguish reviews from previews? Well, most mags already have the tendency to state that screenshots and comments from developers are based on pre-release versions still in progress, but that simply doesn’t push the message across adequately. After all, if it did, Fable wouldn’t have been such a disappointment to so many people, because people would know that Molyneux was simply spouting off about what he wish he could have done, not talking about final product. I think that there should be a clear delineation of the two, stating with no doubt, that previews are based on unfinished product. Put it in as a bold disclaimer at the beginning of your mag or site, or even under the headlines of your preview section, or whatever. Also, tone down the excitement level for previews. Just provide what data you have, and let readers determine whether they should be excited or not. A mag or site can be fun to read without being an undeserved-hype machine.

    Moreover, I think the most important thing is to just ensure that your reviewers have good, experienced heads on their shoulders, and let your readers know that they can be trusted not to walk into a review with a chip on their shoulder. Your resident Halo freak shouldn’t be reviewing Mario Tennis and Kirby. Your Street Fighter pro shouldn’t be telling people why a racing game sucks. And at the same time, understand that readers don’t really care what you ate for fucking lunch, and how it made you feel. Wanna be funny? Not in reviews and previews, you don’t. If your reviewers are doing their job, their reviews will not look like previews, because the insight required to do a proper review will reveal itself and make itself obvious, automatically differentiating it from a preview. Basically, do everything in your power not to be anything like “X-Play” on TechTV, and you are halfway down the road to being the next Next Generation. But, that’s just a reader’s opinion.

  12. I own a DS and have pre-ordered a PSP. I am and have always been someone who loves portable gaming. I like the DS but the current titles just suck and better games seem like they are a long way off. However, I know that Nintendo is going to do their best to give fans the best games ASAP. They have to now. That is the good thing about the PSP. Sony and Tendo will have to stay on their toes to keep ahead of the other. The DS will never be as big as the Gameboy because it is not the Gameboy. I imagine over the next year we will start to hear more and more about the next incarnation of the Gameboy. (can’t remember what it is called)
    Since it will have an extra year of tech development, it will surely kick the PSP’s butt and will be followed by the PSP2 and so on and so on…

    dajapo

  13. As a gamer who often has a stash of pre-order receipts for software that spans all consoles, I can honestly say that I have no personal preference that influences my opinion of EGM’s content. I am a subsrciber, I read most issues front to back, and as I reflect upon the previous year of PSP/DS coverage, I see where Mr. Torres is coming from without the help of any fanboy goggles implied by Mr Hsu’s remarks on this blog. If I imagine myself in the position of a less-discerning reader, EGM’s coverage has me envisioning the DS as an awkward, floundering system that is destined to be driven under by the sleek, sexy, and technologically explosive PSP. This impression is possible even though only one of the handhelds is currently in a position to be evaluated, and that is a glaring problem that EGM should take seriously.

    As others have indicated in this discussion, many readers are not discerning. In my personal experiences, for every one person I know who understands that EGM’s news and previews should be pruned of hyperbole to find the useful information, there are two individuals who take the hype and run with it, even basing their purchases upon it. I have little doubt that some consumers pocketed their DS money until March after seeing giant, widescreen screenshots of what they did not realize was projected system performance. And what was with that “PSP < $200” bomb graphic that I remember from a few months back? Here’s a tip, Mr. Hsu: If you can imagine 13-year-old fanboys harassing rival fanboys on the school bus by pointing to one of your original graphics, don’t print it. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it, which is why citing twenty pro-DS quotes could not reverse the overall vibe of your staff’s work. Still, I enjoy reading EGM. It is the only gaming publication that I dare take even somewhat seriously after Next Generation rode off into the sunset. It is my comparatively high opinion of the magazine that makes me want to see its staff finally take the wrecking ball to the poisonous pre-release coverage that plagues gaming journalism.

  14. Shoe, if you put the PSP thing in the April issue people might assume any negative comments about the PSP are the annual joke 😉

    Anyway, count me in the previews are generally worthless camp. Might as well call it news about upcoming games and not put any opinion in it…just have it be very descriptive of the features. It is hard to have a more creative opinion style preview since generally any information beyond the news is wild speculation.

    I subjectively disagree with a few things that have come out of the PSP v. DS coverage in EGM, but then I disagreed about some aspects of the GCN v. Xbox coverage and any number of things over the years…you can’t have opinion without disagreement from somewhere. Though I thought Sprung was much less mediocre than EGM reviewed it, the initial line-up is problematic to be sure. I shall look forward to the PSP launch line-up getting toasted as well.

  15. And this is an issue because . . . ?

    Let’s review: the Nintendo DS has been released and reviewers haven’t warmed up to it. This is based on final product hands-on time.

    The PSP is getting good advance press. The DS might’ve gotten the same treatment, had the Nintendo PR Nazis actually taken the time out to show the press what they were doing instead of laboring under the idea that a rehash of Mario 64 should be as closely guarded a secret as U.S. nuclear launch codes.

    (And personally, I won’t be buying either, I like my games on a big screen.)

    Anyone recall the petition from about two years back where editors at various high-profile gaming news outlets practically begged Nintendo to release information about ‘key’ Gamecube titles?

    Nintendo likes playing the PR ‘game’ of witholding information, and this sort of thing is what happens when you do that. And you’ll note the correlation between ‘oh, we want it to be a surprise’ and the waning general interest in their products. With the PSP, at least there’s some info to go on, it’s up to the readers to sort through what they feel is hype. Really savvy gamers will wait until the final reviews are in, and if you’re an early adopter who HAS to buy things on day one – well, caveat emptor.

    So if we have two competing platforms and it’s not ‘fair’ to analyze the one before the others are actually released, then by that line of thinking, the press shouldn’t have covered the PS2 at all until November of 2001, when the Xbox and Gamecube were released.

    Nintendo fanboys need to grasp that not everyone who is critical of Nintendo necessarily has an ‘agenda’.

  16. One thing I mentioned to Kyle that he didn’t get to print in his blog: I can’t remember for sure, but we might’ve previewed Mario 64 DS without having played it at the time, which makes it hard to do a critical preview. Sometimes, you only get top-line information and some screens, and you want to share that with readers…but you can’t very well criticize gameplay that you haven’t actually experienced yourself. Other times, we do make critical comments in previews (see EGM’s March issue on the PSP launch games, for example…those were hands-on, so we could comment on much more). So in EGM, we will preview games in different ways: neutral (as Kyle describes it) when it’s nothing we played…critical if we have…depends on the circumstances. Then when it comes to reviews, it’s open season.

    Also…that PSP launch feature may now be in the May issue…depends on when we get a U.S. PSP…so don’t shoot me if you don’t see it in the April issue. 🙂

  17. I have the PSP in hand, and i must say, much like the Xbox beats the PS2, the PSP kills the NDS. Having tried both, the PSP is clearly for the serious gamer in mind.

    < HREF="http://www.blogger.com/r?http%3A%2F%2Fwww.xboxmodchip.com">Xbox Modchip<>

  18. My take on it of course, isn’t so much that the previews are biased. That’s a given. The problem is how the previews lead to the reviews. It’s the hype factor that shows up there. The more hyped games, they basically ignore huge holes in the game you can drive trucks through. (Doom 3? Halo 2?)

    And saying that the PSP is the system is the game hardcore gamers want to play? Uhhhh. No. In my circles, the PSP hype machine lands with a huge thud. Why? Battery power problems is the biggie, followed closely by well..too much overlap with the PS2, to be honest. Same types of games, and so on. The PSP is something you want to be seen with, not really sit down and play.

    The DS doesn’t fair that much better actually, mainly for a lack of games. The GBA SP is still the reigning king, and for one reason only.

    Old-school. On the system, I can play remakes of things like Final Fantasy and Super Mario. Add simple and great 2-d games (Advance Wars?), and it gives a gaming experience you can’t find anywhere else, portable or not.

    Actually, that said, the PSP might be a surprise hit afterall. The UMD, with terrible battery problems, is going to be a flop. But I wonder if the Memory Stick media, might be the success story. Either throuth the grey market of emulation, or say games brought out by companies such as PopCap, the PSP might actually find a market…

    But it’s not the one that EGM or Sony are expecting.

  19. I have absolutely no problem with the idea of “preview bias” because I can’t see EGM (or anyone) give a glowing review to a typical Barbie game no matter how much money Mattel pumped to them. Previews exist solely, as Kyle said, to give readers the tip on games they’ll probably want to look into in the future.

    But then Kyle, you pose the question “<>do readers realize the inherent difference between a review and a preview? Do they incorporate this difference into their reaction to a video game feature?<>” and I disagree with your answer. I don’t think most readers do know that there’s quite a different between previews and reviews. And I think this is evident by Torres’ accusation of bias.

    I’m sure most readers know that there is ‘a’ difference, and if you explained it to them they’d say “Okay that makes sense.” But if you ask them to explain it to you, I’m sure you’d get a wide variety of answers. “Previews are games that won’t come out anywhere from a few months to years.” “Reviews are more in depth.” “Previews are done with copies of the game that are almost finished.” Etc. Only some of them saying that “Previews are done without actually playing the game.”

    And I think that largely comes from the similarity of the titles, preview and review, and lack of explanation of what they mean and their differences. Then again, I can’t think of anything more descriptive and as catchy to call them…

    Of course, I’m assuming that the headlines of (p)reviews don’t explain the difference. Otherwise I’m an ass for going off of my memory like this and assuming so little of readers.

  20. Beat up Shoe and company if you want, but this is typical Sony. The guys working the behind the scenes marketing for Sony on both shores are unmatched in this industry. This was compared to the 16bit wars, and thats reasonably accurate, but its closer to what happened when the PS1 and PS2 were launched. Anybody remember how much talk there was of how powerful the PS1 (or PSX for those of you who were there) was compared to the Saturn? The difference is, it isn’t always just whats new or on the way over whats out. When the N64 was comming out, the press beat it up too, and maybe rightly so with the cartridge format, HUGE delays, and anti-alaising mess, but nearly every article from most publications I can remember refused to give the big N the same pump up as they had given Sony.
    Somewhere out there someone from the Dreamcast design team is laughing at this. I was working as a video game store manager when the DC came out, and I remember the big shows and talk during the build up to the launch. All the talk was about how much better the PS2 was going to be, it would do everything but cook breakfast, and the DC was another Jaguar. It wasn’t until 2 years later when Sega announced the end of hardware production that the magazines, EGM included, suddenly pronounced the greatness and unfortunate lack of support form the people for the Dreamcast. It almost made me laugh out loud to read the last reviews and editorials on the subject. That kind of commentary a few months before might have made a significant difference.
    If I sound like a Sony hater, I own a PS2 and I’m currently trying to finish PoP2, I’m not. What I hate is when people try to gloss over or excuse bias in the media. I remember reading an interview with Ken Kutaragi (I think it was Fusion magazine) in the late summer of ’99. In it he rattled off the list of features that would make his PS2 the “set-top” solution for the 21st century, with websurfing, email, TV recording, downloadable games, movies and music, all at your fingertips from a single interface from Sony itself. Now it’s ’05, and even if I bought the cancelled, almost 1G PSX from an importer I still couldn’t get all that! What gets me is, I haven’t read one interview or editorial calling him on that! People screamed that Peter Molyneux tricked you into waiting 2 years and spending $50, what about Sony’s 6 years and hundreds of dollars? Wait, I read it’ll be in the PS3, in one of those magazine articles about how the cell processor is the most powerful and amazing thing ever designed. This from the company that gave me 2 controller ports, an online revolution (with all the mmorpgs it’s amazing I have the time to type this), and the harddrive that will change the way we think of gaming!

  21. <>Christian Nutt loathes you.<>You know what they say… if people are getting angry, you must be doing something right.

  22. Looking at the latest EGM (March), I am curious what Mr. Orland thinks about the PSP-specific “petal” rating system designed for the PSP previews. Does this go too far in blurring the line between an early glimpse and a complete evaluation?

    I remember seeing quick yay or nay blurbs on the potential of each game in other preview compilations, but never a system-specific scoring system. With the high probability of gamers making their PSP pre-ordering decisions during this particular issue’s shelf-life, does this feature look too much like a marketing tool to be featured in a neutral publication (“The PSP looks so cool, even as a scoring chart!”) ?

    Despite how this reads, this is a real question and not just an excuse to get my opinion out there. I am actually on the fence, and would like to read the Ombudsman’s take. In fact, my tilt might actually be to the positive side, because at least the impromptu scoring system leads to some rare previews that are less than glowing.

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