Kohnke: 'We're Not Paying Anyone Off to Review Games'

As part of PR firm Kohnke's complaint against Gods & Heroes developer Perpetual Entertainment, the company claimed to have convinced "reviewers to write positive reviews about the game." This blunt wording caused many to question Kohnke's methods, and the company has responded to this claim by saying the verbiage was a typo.

"This was nothing more than a typo in the complaint," Kohnke VP Sean Kauppinen wrote to Shacknews. "The game was never released, so it should be clear we didn't mean 'reviews,' but 'previews.'"

Kauppinen went on to say Kohnke never tries to sway a reviewer's opinion of a game. It's a PR agency's job to portray a game in a good light, he said, but it's ultimately up to game journalists to make the decision. "Flat out, we don't convince people to write positive reviews," he stated.

"Anyone who knows me or anyone else here at Kohnke knows that we would never attempt to influence a score from what a journalist thought a game deserved," Kauppinen added. "To reiterate, we're not paying anyone off to review games, this is not related to Jeff Gerstmann, the Illuminati, or HGH in baseball."

From The Chatty
  • reply
    December 14, 2007 1:37 PM

    So they *are* paying people off to write positive *previews*, but that's okay because they're not paying people off to write positive *reviews*?

    Okay, that's the lesser of the two evils, but it's still an evil.

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      December 14, 2007 1:53 PM

      I think they can do whatever they want with previews. It's fine to hype up a game, that doesn't hurt anything. But reviews are definitely off limits.

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        December 14, 2007 2:11 PM

        Then they should buy space to print a press release. If a journalist writes a preview then I want to know what they thought of the game at that point in its development, not what they were paid to say by an interested party.

        On the flipside, it's total BS if a developer/publisher without much money can't get any attention for their game, in terms of previews (or even reviews) unless they can pay off the magazines. This is exactly what happens with many of the PC magazines which review applications and it'd be a shame if it carried over to gaming.

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          December 14, 2007 3:26 PM

          Dude most previews are loaded and forward looking.

          You won't find any objective previews that lead to high scoring games. Most previews give you a run down of features, experiences that always give the benefit of the doubt to the developer and finally a forward looking statement at the end of the preview.

          "Things are really starting to shape up, if ______ can iron out a few kinks, this title could be really great."

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      December 14, 2007 2:43 PM

      Ever seen a negative preview? I can't think of one

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        December 14, 2007 3:21 PM

        Previews = advertisement

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        December 14, 2007 5:50 PM

        The Shack's preview of that Pandora's Box game was pretty average and at least slightly negative. Sure, every preview leaves it open to the fact that things could change before the final game is done, but I have seen some which say "this isn't looking that great so far, but it might be good eventually" rather than "this will be awesome."

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      December 14, 2007 4:05 PM

      I don't really think so. I mean, I understand why you feel that way, but break it down:

      -previews are not the same thing as critical reviews. Functions are totally different.
      -I would be inclined to call that more as guaranteeing the previewers have a satisfying experience, so being accomodating about getting preview access
      -the game is still a work in progress. I think everyone should have a bit of optimism

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      December 14, 2007 4:37 PM

      They're not paying people off. I've worked with Kohnke many times. They've never even hinted at any such arrangement.

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        December 14, 2007 5:58 PM

        So why did they say they are? I'm confused. They say it was a typo from "preview" to "review", so what they intended to say was, according to the article:

        "the company claimed to have convinced previewers to write positive previews about the game"

        Or have I misunderstood? I have to admit I don't much understand the article as it seems to be saying that the PR company accused the developer of paying people to write good stuff which in turn caused people to question the PR company.

        That does seem odd to me, since I would have thought it would be the PR company, if anyone, who would be trying to convince people to write good things. Yet it seems to be the PR company accusing the developer of doing that? And, if that is the case, why does it lead to people questioning the PR company's methods when it seems to be the PR company pointing out that the developer is paying people off? Or...

        Hmm. Whether the PR company or the developers are paying people off, the first paragraph of the article doesn't make sense to me. Maybe my brain isn't working. :) I have had a few beers by now, but I remember wondering the same thing when I first read the article, sans alcohol.

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          December 14, 2007 9:52 PM

          Where are you getting "paying off"? You keep making that incredibly large, nonsensical leap.

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            December 15, 2007 12:53 AM

            Good point, I guess I just assumed that. How else would they convince people? Trying to influence opinions, though anything other than pointing out good aspects of a game that may otherwise have been overlooked, seems wrong to me.

            Of course that is what a PR company does, but when they seem to be saying "we were accused of the evil of influencing reviews but actually it was just previews" then that seems an admission that they were doing something wrong. If there's nothing wrong with influencing reviews or previews then why did they make a statement clarifying it and why is this even a story?

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              December 15, 2007 3:29 PM

              Im a games journalist and I can understand what he means really. What is meant is not that they pay people to give positive reviews but maybe they give little extras like a joke plastic finger in a bag when one title came out or that cardboard cutout that came with a recent MMO's review unit. In the words of The Simpsons Mayor Diamond Joe Q "In future I would like a non marked briefcase to a bag with a dollar sign on it". (If someone does have a spare bag feel free to forward it)

              What is most likely is that they pushed on their press lists offering preview access early and offering to answer any questions that the previewers had. Its not something that costs and it does make you feel like your opinion matters more. Its the same as hostage situations in a way, give the hostage a name to make them more human and your less likely to wind up with it going badly. So to speak.

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