Game(mis)Informer

There has been considerable chatter on the forums about GameInformer’s coverage (or lack thereof) of FFXIV in it’s recent E3 2010 wrap-up edition.  This issue bears highlighting, because Square Enix has said on numerous occasions that it fails to get the significant media coverage in the United States that it believes it is due.  So it is reasonable to ask who’s to blame when one of the larger US gaming magazines fails to acknowledge, let alone meaningfully discuss, one of the larger SE offerings.

So we ask… who’s to blame?

And we answer… GameInformer.

So here’s the set-up.  The August 2010 edition of GameInformer comes out containing coverage of E3 2010, which took place in Los Angeles in June.  Save the 9-page cover story on Dragon Age II, the vast majority of the remainder of the 116-page edition covers E3.  There is a 30-page “Special Edition”, a 50-page “E3 Hot 50”, and a 4-page photo journal of E3.  Make no mistake about it – this is their E3 edition.

So, with Square Enix offering up a new playable FFXIV version at E3, new game and character creation information, a 3-D tech demo, and interviews with the development team, a gamer interested in FFXIV (or just MMOs in general), might look to this edition of GameInformer in order to find out about this soon-to-be-released game.  I’d guess that they would even go straight to the “Special Edition: E3 2010” section, look at it’s table of contents, and see that, on page 38, there was an article entitled “Massive: the MMOs of E3 2010.”  Heading over to page 38 the interested reader would read about seven MMOs at E3, plus a reference to an eighth elsewhere in the magazine.  The sum total of FFXIV information imparted in this article entitled “Massive: the MMOs of E3 2010”?  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  In fact, there was, as far as we can see, one reference to FFXIV in the entire 116-pages.  In fact – it was on the first no-advertising page of the magazine.  The reference was contained in the editorial entitled “Pre-rendered CG, Your Day Has Come” and was as follows:

These [CG] movies may be cool to watch, but I don’t believe they serve the narrative of the stories, and can often ruin an otherwise fantastic looking game.  After I watched the pre-rendered movies for Final Fantasy XIV, I was hyped to see the game, only to be disappointed to see that the world really doesn’t look a thing like the CG movies.  The game looks fine on its own, but can’t hold a candle to the CG.  Final Fantasy VII anyone?

So there you have it.  Despite ample opportunity to actually report on FFXIV, to provide information on an upcoming  game, we are instead “informed” by GameInformer that some unidentified portion of the game that was viewed at some unidentified time in some unidentified manner, didn’t compare to the trailer shown at E3 on what was a good 50 feet wide if not more. Never mind the fact that out of the three trailer’s released so far for this game, this year’s E3 trailer had only a sliver of actual CG footage. The majority of it is comprised of cutscenes being done by the game’s engine.  Well done GameInformer – way to dig deep.  Did you ask Hiromichi Tanaka in an interview about how CG was going to be used in FFXIV on release?  Or did you just really compare a trailer to a beta version of a game?  Did you even bother to have an interview?  Tanaka, the producer of FFXIV, and Yasu Kurosawa, the North American Online Producer (not to mention Saori Hill from the UK community team), were standing by to answer any and all questions (or at least certainly generic ones about the use of CG) about their game.  Indeed, not only were we able to line up an interview, but Fox Business News and the New York Times did as well – and they don’t even pretend to cover games.

Ok.  We’re getting tired.  The fact is that for a gaming magazine (or any magazine for that matter) to have an article entitled “Massive: the MMOs of E3 2010” and to not mention FFXIV is not only inexcusable, but is just plain poor journalism.  But with that said, and before we sign off, let’s dispel a few counter arguments.

1. You, Eorzeapedia, are just as biased as GameInformer here, but just on the other side of the coin.

Wrong.

We are a site dedicated to FFXIV – and FFXIV alone. We make no pretense about our bias.

GameInformer, on the other hand, is (by it’s own self-touting admission), has “earned a strong reputation for being trustworthy and evolved its brand power beyond ‘the Final Word on Computer & Video Games’ and into ‘the World’s #1 Computer & Video Game Resource’.”  Despite the fact that those quotes are unattributed, the fact remains that GameInformer holds itself out as a “premier destination” and “video game resource”.  They claim to be covering the industry – there is no room for such bias when you hold yourself out as unbiased.

2. GameInformer can’t cover all of the games shown at E3 – and certainly can’t cover all games in release and development globally.

Wrong.

First, there were approximately 300 exhibitors at this year’s E3.  That’s really not that many, especially when you consider that a bunch of those are probably tangential to what GameInformer should be covering.  Second, there were only about 20 MMOs shown at E3.  Worse, for GameInformer, of the 8 they covered in their “Massive: the MMOs of E3 2010” article, only one (Vindictus, a “free-to-play brawler” that has already been released in Korea, and whose North American beta has not yet started) has an announced 2010 release date.  The rest are 2011, 2013 or just plain TBA.  To ignore MMOs that are presently in beta and releasing in 60-days in favor of something releasing in March 2013 demonstrates, at best, poor judgment.

3. GameInformer will almost certainly have a huge spread on FFXIV in the next month or so prior to release, so they are holding back their information.

Wishful thinking.

Even if this was true, you don’t ignore it.  You say: “We’ll be detailing FFXIV (Release: September 22, 2010) in our next edition.  So stay tuned for all the latest information on FFXIV next month!”  There.  That’s what you’d do if you knew you had something in the can that you were holding back.  You don’t issue an E3 wrap-up of MMOs and avoid mention.

4. There was over 500,000 square feet of exhibition space.  GameInformer probably just didn’t see Square Enix, or FFXIV for that matter, at E3.

Wrong.

Just not possible.  Let’s start with the entrance.  Both sets of stairs leading to the South Hall were promoting FFXIV.  Plus there was the banner hanging from the ceiling in the main lobby that was probably 50′ tall.  They could not be missed.  Nor could the Square Enix “booth”.  Just take a look at GameSpot’s image gallery of the booth.  It frankly doesn’t even do it justice.  Square Enix was certainly one of the largest exhibitors there.  Their section spanned maybe 1/3 of the length of the South Hall, with the massive screen centered between two standalone game-specific exhibitions (one for FFXIV and one for Kane & Lynch 2).  Showcasing at least 8 different titles, the Square Enix section simply could not be missed.  IGN called it a “Boothemoth” (i.e. a huge booth).

5. FFXIV isn’t good.  It was not worthy of coverage.

Wrong.

While we admit that this is at least somewhat up to  personal preference, even were one to not like the game in its current, beta, form, it’s still hard to justify a complete lack of coverage.  But perhaps more to the point, FFXIV is, at least somewhat objectively, good.  As we previously reported, it was named by ScrawlFX the Best MMO of E3.  The IGN reviewed said that FFXIV looked “incredible” and, if we reverse their double negative, “gorgeous.”  It commented, appropriately so, on the fact that there was a 3-D demo available – something unique to MMOs at E3.  Other gaming sites of course covered FFXIV, so this argument seems to fall as flat as the others.


Well, with that rant done, we will take our leave.  While we’re pretty sure what we will do with our GameInformer subscription when it comes up for renewal, maybe we’ll be surprised by their coverage over the next few months.  One can only hope.