By Paco Garcia Jaen
Since I started my website, I have been very blessed by making a lot of friends in the game world and by getting some review copies of games (mostly board games). It is a privilege I don’t take lightly and I appreciate more than most people know.
Today something “funny” happened to me whilst at Spiel. Actually there were many things but this one was unpleasant and required some retort from me. Those of you who know me just a bit know that a retort from me is an honest and rather brutal answer.
Because I am not interested in bringing any damage to the company that was the source of my discontent, I will not mention names. I will not do it in private either.
This situation came after an interview. Martin and I had waited for a bit to do this interview and eventually we got there. Great because the game looked impressive. A very helpful demo person showed the game and went through the 10 minutes interview. Great!
“What is your policy regarding review copies of your games” I asked the manager “Do you operate in any way like that?”.
“No. Sorry” said the man without hesitation “Games cost a lot to make and we can’t just give them away”.
“OK” I replied “That’s fair enough. I’d like to buy a copy, please” and I paid the money.
“When are you writing the review?” he asked
“Oh, the interview will come out between November and January. I will email to let you know when” I said
“No, I mean the review of the game” he said.
“I don’t think I’ll be reviewing it” I said raising an eyebrow.
“I thought you were a reviewer”
“I am, and I review games.” I said with what I suspect was more than just a bit of exasperation in my voice “but first and foremost I review games that are given to me for review. Then I review games that are sold to me at a lower price for review. Then I review whatever else I like, when I like and if I like.”
“I thought you’d write a review” he said
“It’s unlikely. The games I review the least are those from companies that I try to help with free interviews and take me for granted when I buy their games” I said as I turned to leave.
Yes… I turned to leave and left. I have no time for this sort of behaviour.
You see, I very rarely ask for anything. Very, very rarely. And when something’s given, I do my best to make sure it gets a lot of coverage and some games are sold. I know for a fact that some people have bought games after I’ve written or podcasted reviews, and I know my videos, although they’re not as watched as other reviewers, do get to a fair number of people and an average of 5 games are sold per video I publish. Considering I am not very big, it’s not a bad number.
I have no problems doing things for free for people. My podcasts are totally free – I have never ever charged anyone for a review and only a couple of people have ever paid money to be advertised in them. My reviews are totally free too – I have never ever ever asked (or ever will ask) for money to write a review.Except the people who paid to be featured in Dice & Slice, everyone else has been for free and I haven’t even asked for anything in return.
So when someone takes for granted that I will write a review of their game after I did an interview that will take me another 3 hours of to finish (downloading, editing, rendering, publishing) it really really pisses me off.
A reviewer’s time is not free. It comes at a cost and even though this might be our hobby, it is not yours. Yours as publisher is a business. If the exposure a blogger or vlogger is going to give you is not large enough to justify the review copy of the game, fine; it happens.
But don’t think *for a second* that any reviewer out there owes you anything when we buy your game. Because we don’t.
You want me to ensure I write the review of the game and do it the whole treatment with video and everything, you have to do something about it. Demand it when I just gave you 40€ certainly is no the way.