Adam Sessler is stuck this week addressing something that is rather uncomfortable to have to deal with: people assuming he and his company accepted money to say positive things about a company and recent game release—in this case, EA and Dead Space 3. This being the internet, we often get suspicious when advertising pops up for a game or company in particular that is then attached to something a journalist is talking about. It doesn’t help that last year some people did step forward to say that in certain cases sometimes advertising money is linked to saying more positive things, or simply omitting the negative remarks entirely.
Zelda Informer was at the forefront of this conversation just last year, and it was concluded that while it does happen in certain cases and with certain publications, it doesn’t mean that everyone is doing it. As an example, we get ads from several different publishers through our advertising agency that handles all of our incoming funding. Not only are the writers at our prospective sites not even aware of what companies are running ads with us, none of the income is actually based on what we specifically say about a game or company.
Instead, the advertisements bought on our site are based upon our traffic levels and our subject matter. In other words, the topics we talk about do play a role, but what we say about those topics do not. What is more important is how many readers we are serving. The more readers we serve, the better quality advertising we get. Less about HR Block and more about actual video games, as it were.
This plays into the accusations Adam Sessler felt he had to address because a Slim Jim ad featured an EA logo. Slim Jim bought some advertising space in their video content, but the EA logo sort of wasn’t known to be included. EA has a partnership with Slim Jim, but EA did not directly fund the advertising for that campaign. Slim Jim included the logo of their own accord. By the time it was noticed, all the editing was done and the video was ready to go live, so they just said they would live with it. They didn’t think the backlash would be so big for such a small advertisement slot.
This is, however, the internet, and thanks to many grumblings over the years, we are often left suspicious of activities with game journalists. From questionable reviews (Like how it appears EGM didn’t even play Aliens: Colonial Marines) to shoddy reporting jobs, the industry we’re happily a part of doesn’t come without sinners.
In the end, I am glad Adam clarified what exactly happened and raised up a point about this because while we will always be suspicious, it’s important to note that this happening may not be as common as people fear it is. While a small minority of places may be paid off, the overall whole of the industry likely isn’t. Even if one piece seems to be coming from that perspective on a site, it doesn’t mean the whole site is subject to it. In the end, it’s fair to criticize, but lets not just make hasty assumptions.