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Zoo Editor sacked

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I am surprised there is no thread in this yet?




Lads' mag editor blows whistle on video games



* By Andrew Ramadge, Technology Reporter

* From: news.com.au

* April 07, 2010 4:45PM




* Company "demands positive review"

* Editor brands it "cash for comment"

* "Demands don't occur that often"


A MAGAZINE editor who claims he was sacked for posting part of an internal email on Facebook says he was blowing the whistle on video game companies pressuring publications for favourable coverage.

Former Zoo Weekly deputy entertainment editor Toby McCasker last month posted on Facebook part of an email that seemed to show a game maker demanding a positive spin on its latest title.

The email was allegedly sent by a publicist for Rockstar Games to staff at the magazine, concerning coverage of the company's new title Red Dead Redemption.

"This is the biggest game we've done since GTA IV, and is already receiving Game of the Year 2010 nominations from specialists all around the world," it read.

"Can you please ensure Toby's article reflects this — he needs to respect the huge achievement he's writing about here."

Rockstar is one of the world's biggest gaming companies with franchises including Grand Theft Auto and Max Payne.


The post on Facebook has since been taken down and McCasker has been dismissed from the magazine.

McCasker told news.com.au the email was an example of growing pressure from game companies for favourable media coverage.

"I did not sign up to become a journalist to write advertorials masquerading as editorial," he said.

"This 'cash for comment' culture that is fast becoming the status quo within print media bothers me a lot."

Zoo editor Paul Merrill would not comment on McCasker's dismissal but did say he was unaware of any bid to influence the magazine's reviews.

"It'd be wrong for me to comment as to why someone is dismissed," he said.

"I've never known any game maker to ask for a positive review and they've certainly never received it."


Rockstar Games Australia said today: "We are not clear on what the story is here. We always try to present our games in the most compelling way to media and fans alike and of course we, like every other video game publisher in Australia or anywhere else for that matter, want to have our games seen in a positive light."

It is understood McCasker had earlier received two official warnings about his behaviour.


Threats to pull advertising

McCasker's claim is not the first time the game industry has faced allegations of putting pressure on publications to provide favourable coverage.

In 2007 the US editorial director of gaming website GameSpot left the site suddenly after running a negative review of game Kane & Lynch: Dead Men.

A large promotional campaign for the game was running on GameSpot at the time the review was published, leading to speculation the game's publisher Eidos had threatened to pull its ads.

Veteran gaming journalist David Wildgoose, who currently edits gaming blog Kotaku Australia, said threats from game makers to pull advertisements over unfavourable coverage did occur but not very often.

"I've heard of and been directly involved in situations where an advertiser has threatened to pull its spend, usually over a review score they perceive as below expectation," he said.

"But such occasions are infrequent and often the threat is never followed through."

Wildgoose, who has more than 15 years experience as a gaming journalist and editor for print and online, said most game makers valued independent coverage.

"If a games website or magazine started writing for its advertisers, it would lose credibility with its readers. And without those readers, it's not attractive for those advertisers," he said.

"I'd like to think games companies understand that and I think most of them do."


Update (April 8)

Zoo editor Paul Merrill has issued a statement to Kotaku US about McCasker's sacking.


The Kotaku link



UPDATE - Zoo's editor Paul Merrill has contacted Kotaku and provided the following statement:

I would like to make it clear that at no time has Rockstar EVER sought a preferential review in return for advertising. In fact no games company has ever suggested this. And Zoo would never give a positive review to a game we didn't rate in return for ad dollars.

Toby McCasker was sacked for a number of reasons, one of which was his decision to post a private email on his Facebook page. This email was not referring to a game review. He should not be considered a credible source of information on this matter.


So? What do you all think?


My only comment would be that if " Toby McCasker was sacked for a number of reasons, one of which was his decision to post a private email on his Facebook page." then that contradicts the denial that no such email was ever sent?

Of course I would like to know exactly what was posted?

Edited by gyrus

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In fact no games company has ever suggested this.



Unless he means "...has ever suggested this to us."

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Heh - I hope people dont actually read Zoo for the game reviews...


Half the time the information is wrong anyway and the other half is just crap reviews by people who dont know fuck all about video games anyway.

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does not surprise me at all, I remember a reviewer being sacked from Gamespot when he gave Kayne and Lynch only 6/10 and Eidos threatened Gamespot to pull their feature advertisement contract.


For me I never look at the score anyway I read about the games mechanics and so on and decide if the game appeals to me, subjective hype about games doesn't work on me unless I am already anticipating the game Or it universal hype from just about everyone.

On another note I didn't even know Zoo did game reviews, I thought they were like a teen fashion mag or something.





6/10 not 7/10.

Edited by Bundy

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