An All Points Bulletin on Embargos

Realtime Worlds is doing a little media dancing today after a dustup over the review embargo date for its action MMO All Points Bulletin. It started with an email to journalists, as these kinds of things often do, saying that "all reviews would be under a July 6 embargo.

The game is set for launch on June 26 in America, and June 29 in the UK. It is common practice to hold reviews under embargo until the day of release but is fairly rare to set one after release day – in this case, a full week later. Anyway here’s what Realtime said:

"Before finalising reviews, we want you to experience the full, rich experience of APB as it is meant to be seen," stated a message from Realtime Worlds. "We want you to see wild customer customisations, player progression and clans making an impact on the living breathing city of San Paro. This key code also therefore grants you, along with our pre-order customers, VIP early access before the official launch day. June 26th in North America and June 28th in Europe. The review embargo is Tuesday, 6th July at 8am UK time."

Naturally this did not sit well with many UK journalists, most notably Rock, Paper, Shotgun, who posted a manifesto sized response here. A slight taste of what RPS said:

This is extraordinary. They are attempting to tell press that they cannot write a review of the game for a full week after the game is available for the public to buy. It is, of course, impossible to enforce. The public will be able to write anything they wish about the game anywhere they wish from the very first second it’s available. Of course. Because to prevent this would, well, involve Realtime Worlds taking over the planet and beginning an international oppressive dictatorship. And while they’re certainly an ambitious developer, this is perhaps beyond their realm. So of course the gaming press can equally write about a released game whenever they choose, and a company attempting to prevent this is ludicrous and unenforceable

Later in the day, after seeing resistance to its new embargo date, Realtime backed off a few days to July 2. The company also issued a statement to GI.Biz explaining why it moved the date in the first place:

"The decision was purely based on wanting reviewers to experience and see the full live server with players having both progressed and expressed themselves. Our service will also be down for the period between the end of ‘Key to the City’ on June 19 and the start of our ‘Early Access’ event in North America on June 26. This too would have prevented reviewers from playing the game.

"The initial July 6 embargo date was based on the UK street date of July 2 and on press not having access to the game until said date. We are however moving the embargo date forward to July 2 and giving reviewers invitations to the ‘Early Access’ event in order to ensure that they are able to properly experience APB and its community in time for street date.

While it is understandable why an MMO developer would want reviewers to spend as much time as they can in the game world before rendering an official verdict (as an example I played Champions Online for a full month before I reviewed it), it is another thing to demand a date that is well after release. Source(s): RPS, GI.Biz and GI.Biz

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