Feature: The Problem With Games Journalism? IGN & Others Like Them

Games journalism is a bit of a grey area in the view of some people. There are those who are all for it and treat it with the same regard as regular journalism, and then you have people like my Grandmother who thinks it’s a waste of time, something only done by fools. She might actually have a point.

This site actually started out just as something to do in my spare time, something I could dip into and learn from. It’s been quite interesting actually; I’ve learned some basic coding skills, my writing has greatly improved since I first started, and I’ve learned a new trade, sort of.

These days it’s more than a one man job. Whilst I may be the main monkey at the keyboard there’s a small team of people scouring the internet for new information, emailing publishers and developers and generally keeping busy to supply this particular keyboard poker with things to write about. They also do all the technical wizardry that I’m 100% certain is actual magic. Seriously.

Other times I’ll actually do some of the legwork myself; it’s something I quite enjoy. Think of it as a hunt. There’s new information out there in the big, wild web of the internet and whoever is first to find said information will revel in the glory of being the first outlet to publish the latest gossip, news, rumours and so forth. Well, there’s not that much glory but it’s satisfying to know that thousands of people have taken time out of their day to read what you’ve written. It’s a genuine pleasure to write for appreciative readers and it’s the main reason for doing so because, believe it or not, the money isn’t amazing.

So what’s the point of this little rant? This isn’t an easy game to get into, in fact it’s bloody difficult to say the least. You slog it for a while, you slog it a little longer then you slog it some more. It’s rewarding but it’s not like meth – there’s no instant gratification, it’s more like the cooking of meth – slow and hard.

With all the hard work we put into the site comes some quality content (granted we’ve had a few slips here and there,) that naturally needs to be shared with as many people as possible. It’s to be expected that another site would publish an article covering the content of the news we broke, heck, we do it too!

So Chris, what’s your bloody point?

Well, today we published an interesting little article about Activision abandoning the True Crime trademark which is seemingly the final nail in the coffin for the franchise. It’s not the biggest story of the year but it’s interesting for those who have fond memories of playing through the two releases back in the days of the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube.

We fully expected the story to be re-written elsewhere, as previously mentioned. We actually publish a lot of our content to the very popular gaming news website N4G and the chances are you’ve come by this article from there, too.

However, it’s not just gaming fans who browse the front page of N4G, it’s writers from other websites looking for something to write about. That’s cool, that’s fine, that’s life. Heck, as I said before, I’ve done the same. If I read something that’s worth reporting then you can bet your bottom lip I’ll write about it. What I’ll also do is source accordingly.

Now this is where it gets interesting.

Our True Crime article was published this morning and a few hours later a little site named IGN published a very similar story covering the same topic. That’s fine, that’s cool, that’s life. Or it would be, if their writer had done his bloody job properly.

I was out in town when I first noticed, this is the screenshot I took whilst eating a bratwurst. The bratwurst was lovely, in case you were wondering.

Sourcing is one of the most important aspects of this game, after fact checking and ensuring that you don’t accidentally set a picture of you in a Power Ranger onesie as the headline image, something I’ve personally done in the past. Accidentally, of course…

Yet IGN somehow managed not to source back to The Games Cabin. Poor form guys, poor form. IGN are without a doubt the biggest gaming related website out there and they’ve been in this racket for a long time, so they don’t need to do the hard work that us small folks do. Instead they’re happy to let us little people run around finding the interesting stuff just so that they can later re-word it and claim it as their own. I’m not saying they do this every time, but our little website can’t be the first to have fallen victim to poor practices by IGN and others like them.

Now I understand that for regular folk who just want to get their latest gaming news this isn’t that big a deal. IGN didn’t link back to The Games Cabin, so what? Well for us it’s a big deal. In fact it’s paramount to kicking us in teeth, spitting on our lunch and then telling us we slipped in the rain and smacked our face on the floor.

You see, other websites will browse IGN or maybe they’ll see the story being shared on Facebook or Twitter then they’ll cover the same topic. That’s cool. Though not really, at least not in this instance. Instead of other websites sourcing The Games Cabin they all cite IGN as the source of the story, something that just doesn’t seem fair. As a result of IGN’s poor practices other websites are citing them as the source and in doing so sending them more readers. We want those readers! We want all the readers!

IGN has since updated its article and replied via email, but it’s too little too late on this occasion. The damage is done and we’ve lost out on the opportunity to gain a few new readers.

ign fail
Cheers Zack, you’re a nice lad. Probably.

I know this must come across as me throwing my dummy out of the pram, but I’m not really a complainer and in the past I’ve encountered the same issues with smaller sites, but they’re small time guys so it’s easy enough to reach out and touch base with them and ask them to amend their articles. Most of the time it works out just fine and is, more often than not, a lack of understanding, nothing harmful intended.

However with today’s occurrence I just felt the need to address it and let people know just how this journalism lark works. It doesn’t. It’s brutal, it’s dirty and there are some unscrupulous people tainting the industry with their versions of journalism. It’s bad enough when a website incorrectly cites another as the source, but to blatantly not credit the site where you originally got the information? That’s just downright spiteful.

So to summarise; I wrote a little piece about True Crime being abandoned by Activision, IGN’s writer saw it, re-worded it and didn’t cite The Games Cabin as the original source. We noticed other sites publishing similar articles whilst citing IGN as the source, we got pissed off, contacted IGN and they amended their article. Other websites just didn’t bother to source, instead they make it seem as if they have done the hard work all by themselves.

Now I’m not going to link to any of the naughty little girls and boys who didn’t link back to us (hey, why would we send you our readers?) but by simply typing ‘True Crime Trademark’ into Google you’ll find there are a few pages worth of websites that are either misinformed, or just downright dirty.

I’d like to end on a bit of a positive note as I feel that the majority of this piece has been me having a moan, though not without good reason.

We here at The Games Cabin do what we do because we love video games. We’ve turned this small website that used to run like a one-legged dog into a website that, at the best of times, runs like a three-legged cat.

We’ve worked hard over the course of two years to turn this site into a place where over 100,000 visitors stop by every month; a place where you can get some interesting news, informative articles and fair reviews. We appreciate every single person who takes the time out of their day to stop by and have a read and we appreciate it even more when they comment and send emails. Most of all, we appreciate ethical journalism, something we’ve tried to adhere to along the way and whilst we may have made some errors we’ve definitely learned from them. So, if you’re an ethical person, we love you. Lots.


Mwah xoxo

The Games Cabin

  1. I can sympathize with this situation. I’ve been similarly screwed by companies (first starting with Blizzard). What really grinds my gears is that Blizzard had nothing. Their remaining designers had no idea what to do, their main director left and was ostracized. Meanwhile, I had sunk 1000’s of hours in not only their game, but other games of the genre, and solved problems that no one else could.

    They took that info, made it into a 90/100 game on MC, but in the process, lied to players like myself that was expecting with free feedback they’d follow through on their free updates promise. They backpedaled as soon as they saw $ signs. To me, it’s not just a problem with games journalism but with the game industry in general.

    1. Damn… your story makes for a much more compelling read than this article itself! But yeah, there are some shady practices within the industry as a whole. The reason? Money. Obviously everyone is out to make a bit of the paper stuff, but is it too hard to ask that people do it ethically? It seems so. Thanks for commenting!

  2. This is why I got out of pro-journalism, conglomerate websites rule the roost, they operate and employ poor ethics and have no appreciation for what gaming is for many, escapism, not a fashion statement that can be posted into blog bio.

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