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Luke Smith vs. Square/Enix 59

Luke Smith, news editor over at 1up, recently posted a protesting blog entry which openly defied a draconian edict laid down by Square/Enix. The company required news organs to refrain from discussing many aspects of the Valkyrie Profile title, coming out in the U.S. later this year but already available in Japan. Gamers With Jobs has a good synopsis of the situation. From that article: "Is he being a bit overly dramatic on this issue? Perhaps. But it is an interesting illumination of a larger issue, to do with the quality of communication between the industry and games journalists. Smith is certainly not the first to express dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs."
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Luke Smith vs. Square/Enix

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  • Can a private corporation legally dictate what a news agency can and cannot say?
    • No, but they can sure cut a news agency out of any future inside scoops they might have to dish out.
    • Re:Is that legal? (Score:3, Informative)

      by KillerCow ( 213458 )
      Can a private corporation legally dictate what a news agency can and cannot say?

      No, but they can cut the news agency off by not helping them write stories anymore.

      See the Propaganda Model [wikipedia.org].
    • RTFA -- this isn't about legality. I could request that you not report on details of my step-half-cousin-in-law's death in Iraq until after we hold the family funeral service, even if that information is publicly available elsewhere. You could choose to disclose it anyways (stick it to da man!), or you could respect my wishes. Either way, there's no legal issue involved. It's not an exact parallel to this situation, but it sorta works out similarly.
       
    • Unless I missed something big, all that's happening is that S/E released an email asking reviewers not to talk about some features. I'm surprised anyone actually cared enough to spend the 20 minutes that typing that thing took. Who cares? It's a simple request from S/E, grant their request or don't.

      How is this dreck even worth posting in the first place, much less being an item on slashdot?
    • Haven't you ever heard of "advertisers?" Where do you think that these publications get preview copies from? While a company like Square-Enix has no ownership of the publications and no direct control over them, they are perfectly free to make continued ad-revenue and cooperation with the magazines contingent on them toeing the party line.

      This is how businesses control the media. It's really that simple.
  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @01:46PM (#15651545) Homepage
    Luke Smith is the angriest man in games journalism.

    Yeah ... all three of them got in a room and beat each other ... Luke Smith was the last man standing.
  • What the hell can Square-Enix be thinking?

    "Hey guys we know the internet is already full of all of this information but PLEASE don't say anything about these specific topics until these days okay. ^_^"

    As a result of this bullshit, I won't be buying a copy of Valkyrie Profile 2.
  • by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @01:58PM (#15651614) Homepage Journal
    How about simultaneous releases?

    I, for one, am tired of waiting six to twelve months for games to be localized, and all the while running into little spoilers that diminish my enjoyment of the game when it finally arrives. Though it may be a bit harder to pull off, it would be nice if non-Japanese gamers weren't treated like second-class citizens when it comes to release dates.
    • I am sure that companys will wait to release a game a year or half a year later in Japan just so that the english speakers can play! That won't hurt profits at ALL.
      • You act as if it's impossible to create the dialogue simultaneously in multiple languages. Just have the translation team work *with* the developers as opposed to *after* them. One would think it would reduce the total cost of development (ie, development plus translation) while allowing the game to be released earlier in non-Japanese speaking areas.

        • What if its a small company that had no plans to release in an English speaking audience? And it just happened to get succesfful enough to release in America? What then? Huh?
        • Hell, even if you don't do that I've seen much text heavier titles translated into various european languages in less than two months.
          • 30-60 minute long anime episodes are often translated to two or three languages and released online within 24 hours of airing, and that includes the time spent dicking around with video capture, encoding, and distribution (bittorrent, IRC, whatever) software. BY VOLUNTEERS. And these translations are often far superior to the official ones that almost invariably take six months to a year to come out, even if the company is already planning a future English release at the time that they're first broadcast
            • Yeah, I've noticed that. I recently talked with a family friend who got around to watching the official US release of Azumanga Daioh. I watched a fan sub about 2 years ago, and when I started talking with him, I realized that my fan sub had put in all these neat little tidbits about Japanese language (so you could understand the context of the dialog) at the top of the screen, and the official release hadn't done anything like that. Because of this, he said that even though he loved the anime, there were so
        • Game localization is a far more complex task than just having "the translation team work *with* the developers", especially for RPGs. Its a lot more than just translating some dialog. For example, if translated audio is to be used that means getting the voice actors, recording dialog, remixing soundtracks, re-recording FMVs, just for starters.
          Yes, translating material can probably be done during the original game development. But integrating the translated material and creating the localized version of the
        • Then for every dialog change you have to do 4x the work. Stupid.
    • As opposed to non-American (European) gamers who are treated like third class citizens - we're lucky if the game comes out at all!
  • Lame (Score:4, Informative)

    by nacturation ( 646836 ) <nacturation AT gmail DOT com> on Monday July 03, 2006 @02:11PM (#15651686) Journal
    Here's the text of what they've requested:
    With summer in full swing, the sun's come out to say hello, and our Japanese counterparts have unleashed a behemoth known as VALKYRIE PROFILE 2: SILMERIA in their home land. While the game sits in stores thousands of miles away, it's inevitable that some of you will import it to sample the delight that will be coming to North America in late September.

    With that in mind, I feel it is necessary to highlight some key areas that you should not include in your coverage:

    * Please do not write about spoilers of any kind

    * This includes spoiler elements of the main plot, the appearance of Freya and Lenneth as playable characters and of course, the ending

    * Please do not post CG movies of any kind

    * This is a Square Enix staple that runs the gamut for Japan releases, so please refrain from posting videos of our CG or pivotal cutscenes, you will be able to post CG from the English game at a later date

    * Please do not post music of any kind

    * Do not sample or record the music from the game, there is an official OST out for VP2 and we can't infringe on its copyright

    The majority of this boils down to "don't spoil it for the gamers". Of course, this just a polite request and, given that the Japanese version has already been released, Luke Smith doesn't have to follow any of this as he points out. However, Square Enix doesn't have to do any favors for him either. I wouldn't be surprised if 1Up gets cut out of the loop when it comes to any prerelease events.
     
    • Re:Lame (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) * on Monday July 03, 2006 @02:43PM (#15651944) Homepage Journal
      I've copied most of Square Enix's request, but skipped over the most important part! Go re-read the article. [1up.com] At the very least, scan or search for "The following areas are embargoed until the corresponding dates:". The text below that is white-on-white to prevent spoilers, so in some web browsers you'll have to select the text to see it. The key point is that information about specific areas in the game is "embargoed" until a set of seven different dates, all of which are before the game's release. While much of the request is legit, the embargo list isn't about spoilers. This is about waiting so that Square Enix can announce it themselves (presumably on their web site). This is about yielding to Square Enix's marketing effort. That's the point where Square Enix crossed the line. Asking journalists to help them with their marketing is inappropriate.
      • Wow, I suck. "I've copied" should be "You've copied" refering to the grandparent poster. Kinda changes the entire message.
      • You're right ... I thought the blank dates were just some poorly formatted HTML-table-to-text conversion and didn't even bother selecting it to reveal the text. However, whatever their reasoning it's still a matter of biting the hand that feeds you kind of thing. Smith can simply ignore everything they say and review and comment the entire game from start to finish, spoiling everything -- as can anyone. But if he wants to keep playing in the publishers' ballpark, he'll have to play by their rules or at t
        • Re:Lame (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) *

          However, whatever their reasoning it's still a matter of biting the hand that feeds you kind of thing.

          Well, that's part of the point isn't it? Video game journalism has incentives to cozy up to publishers, compromising the resulting reporting. Square Enix wouldn't have asked this if they didn't think at least some journalists would agree. What does it say about the state of video game journalism that a publisher believes it can ask journalists to stay silent about publically available information sole

      • Asking journalists to help them with their marketing is inappropriate.

        No it's not, just as it's fine for journalists to ask for exclusive information so they can attract readers. It's a give-take relationship.
    • What? Freya and Lenneth are playable? You spoiled it, you jerk! My life is ruined!
    • Indeed, the requests are absolutely not controversial or unusual in any way.

      The fact that the (narrative-driven) game in question is available (in Japanese) in Japan is irrelevant, and Luke Smith's reliance on this fact as a rationale for his actions is totally unacceptable. The vast majority of 1UP's readership won't have played the game and won't have gone out of their way to look for spoilers and game movies.

      Pretty much everywhere I've seen reporting or commenting on this story has scoffed at Luke's self
  • Uh... huh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RyoShin ( 610051 ) <tukaro&gmail,com> on Monday July 03, 2006 @02:21PM (#15651766) Homepage Journal
    Reading the blog, it looks like their "embargo" didn't really bar talking about it all, merely talking about certain things; in short, no spoilers (including character descriptions and CG movies) and no sampling/uploading of music from the game. The later seems somewhat obvious, as its most likely copyrighted (I've seen few news sites post just the music.)

    However, they can't talk about spoilers? I can understand this demand if 1up got a scoop on a game that's still in production. I can understand this if 1up got a scoop about some utlra super secret sidequest and were to only do teasers until a certain date (or it became public some other way.)

    But telling them to keep quiet about a game taht has been out in Japan for months, widely available to anyone with the money for an import? What, is Squeenix hoping that someone with a Geocities account can get details out earlier than a gaming site?

    It doesn't look like they're threatening anything, either- it's just a "hey, if you would, could you not do this stuff please? kthx" letter.
  • Crymore Luke (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sage Gaspar ( 688563 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @02:27PM (#15651808)
    The "draconian" edict they passed down was a politely-worded suggestion that the news media doesn't post directly-ripped music, directly-ripped CG samples, and gross plot spoilers. There is one part of the letter where it "embargos" certain areas of the game for discussion until certain dates, I'm guessing to try to drum up interest for the game so that they don't blow everything immediately and have attention die down.

    Is this a marketing ploy? Ya, I'm sure it is. But it's tit-for-tat. Square lets out information and demos to game media, Square asks for a little something back. The media can choose whether they want it or not. If not, fine, then their relationship with Square sours a little. Whoopdeeshit. If yes, then a couple salivating fans have to wait a month or turn to fansites to get their information.

    Luke did a good job of drawing his line in the sand to rally the ill-informed reactionaries and the 15-year-old fanatics to the aid of his page impressions, but he needs a reality check.
    • Tit-for-tat means corruption.

      You missed the point. The game is out already. People have imported it and posted info on their personal sites.

      Square is asking the media to act as though they don't know the rest of the world exists.
      • Tit-for-tat means corruption.

        When the game "media" stops advertising the products it's reviewing, writing previews that are basically verbatim press releases with a couple screenshots, editorializing like emo versions of Maddox, and actually... I dunno, doing some interesting journalism and fact-finding instead of filling pages up with the above drivel handed to them on a platter by game companies, we can talk. Not that I'd agree with you still, but we could talk. Until then I'll regard them as the glorif
  • ...company required news organs to refrain...
    I got an e-mail promising to make my news organ bigger.
  • I was actually going to do something like that for my games as well. I don't mind if the reviewer says how good or bad they are at any point (while I'd of course prefer if they liked everything), but there are certain cut-off points from which point on we're not going to release official promotional material. Some of the nicest experiences in a game is discovering new stuff, so knowing everything would spoil it, wouldn't it?
    • Some of the nicest experiences in a game is discovering new stuff, so knowing everything would spoil it, wouldn't it?

      I think you need to RTFA...

      Square Enix states:

      [Valkyrie Profile 2] will be coming to North America in late September.

      The last cut-off date is the 4th of september...
      By the 4th of september, the reviewers will be free to discuss anything about the game they want.
      The 4th of september is BEFORE the release of the game...

      If they wanted to keep some parts of the game secret (spoilers), t

  • The three things that we only need to know is:

    Gameplay: Does it play well? Or is the gameplay effed up the wazoo?
    Graphics: Does it look good? Or does watching it make you barf?
    Plot: What is the basic premise of the game?

    Those are the main things we really need. Now lets look at the requests.

    * Please do not write about spoilers of any kind

    * This includes spoiler elements of the main plot, the appearance of Freya and Lenneth as playable characters and of course, the ending

    Well thanks asshole. For

  • It worked (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sqlrob ( 173498 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @10:58PM (#15654510)
    How many of you have even heard about this game before this flap? A game that wouldn't normally even be a blip on the radar has made /.
    • ...

      It's Valkyrie Profile man. If you haven't played the first one, and you're a decent fan of RPGs, then you sir, should shoot yourself.
      • It's rather hard to find. At gamestop, it's currently backordered for $59.99 and it's going for up to $135 on eBay.

        I knew a remake was coming out for the PSP, I was unaware of the sequel.

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