Bethesda, the makers of DOOM and Skyrim, have officially announced that they will send out review copies of their games, but those review copies will only get to the press the day before the launch of the game.
In an official announcement on their website, Global Content Lead Gary Steinman says “At Bethesda, we value media reviews. We read them. We watch them. We try to learn from them when they offer critique. And we understand their value to our players. Earlier this year we released DOOM. We sent review copies to arrive the day before launch, which led to speculation about the quality of the game. Since then DOOM has emerged as a critical and commercial hit, and is now one of the highest-rated shooters of the past few years.”
After that experience, Steinman says that with the eminent launches of Skyrim Special Edition and Dishonored 2, they’ve made it official that reviewers will only get their games the day before the game goes live. He says they want everyone, including the media, to experience their games at the same time.
So what about the gamers that like to read reviews before they buy the game? Well Steinman says that he understands that, and he just suggests that you wait for your favorite reviewers to publish their thoughts before you buy the game.
But the policy isn’t quite so cut and dry as that. Some reviewers have pointed out that Bethesda has in fact already given advanced copies of Skyrim Special Edition to YouTubers, and has allowed them to showcase the first two hours of the game.
As for the discrepancy in the policy, Steinman doesn’t address that kind of thing directly, but he does say that Bethesda will work with the media, streamers and YouTubers to support their coverage before and after the release of the game.
It’s possible Bethesda hopes to curate the coverage given to their games before launch, so that they can have the best sales possible. And showing the first two hours of gameplay on YouTube specifically highlights how good the game looks, which they might hope will create good buzz around the game.