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Dying Light Review: Why is Techland Gaming Us?

Dying Light

Dying Light

In the information age, how long can a bad product hide in the shadows?

That’s a question that is resurfacing today around a new video game called Dying Light, a zombie survival epic made by Polish video game developer Techland.

Now, we aren’t saying Dying Light is a terrible game. We simply don’t know if it’s good or bad, and that’s the point. The company did not release advance copies to the media until about twelve hours before its release today. That’s just not enough time to play the game and review it, says Paul Tassi, who writes about video games for Forbes.

“From what I can tell, no outlets have received review codes for Dying Light to date, despite the game being released tomorrow,” explained Tassi. “Even if codes did go out today, no respectable outlet could probably fashion a proper review in the next half-day to go up by launch. In effect, Techland’s solution to avoid review embargoes in the name of “transparency” is to not send out review copies at all.”

Embargoes are a long standing practice that allow journalists to view movies and books and hear music before it is released to the general public, so that a considered review can be published on the day it is released, when interest in the property at its highest.

In a mind-trick of Jedi proportions, the game’s lead designer Maciej Binkowski defended the decision to not embargo Dying Light by claiming allegiance to the fans of the game.

In Hollywood, not allowing the media to see a film before it is released has become a basic admission that it’s a stinker. A recent list of movies not screened for critics includes “Movie 43”, “The Legend of Hercules”, “Tyler Perry’s The Family that Preys” and “Texas Chainsaw 3D”.

In a mind-trick of Jedi proportions, the game’s lead designer Maciej Binkowski defended the decision to not embargo Dying Light by claiming allegiance to the fans of the game.

“No, we do not have embargoes of that nature. We want to be as transparent as we can towards our fans, so don’t worry – there won’t be any review embargoes before the game is released.”

The trouble is, a product that is not yet released can’t have fans, right?

Wrong. In a cosy arrangement that seems intent on maximizing non-critical buzz about Dying Light, Tassi notes that Techland worked out deals with YouTube stars, who were given access to gameplay footage of the game.

Even now, it’s hard to sort out what Dying Light content on YouTube has been purchased into existence, and what hasn’t.

“The practice,” notes Tassi, “…amounts to essentially viral advertising, rather than anything approaching “transparency.” Often it’s the exact opposite, given that often YouTubers don’t disclose these deals, or may only mention them in passing. Even now, it’s hard to sort out what Dying Light content on YouTube has been purchased into existence, and what hasn’t.”

As we have noted in these pages, the video game world has grown use to practices that would make disgraced deejay Alan Freed roll over in his grave.

Last year, Globe and Mail tech writer Peter Nowak was on Jesse Brown’s CanadaLand podcast to talk about the often corrupt, insular world of video game journalism. Nowak likened today’s video game business to the Hollywood studio systems of the 1940’s, in which large studios created content and also owned the means of distribution.

He points out that the video game trade press is almost entirely dependent upon advertising dollars supplied by the same organizations they are reviewing.

The result is a massive discrepancy is the rating of a game between actual gamers and the “professional” journalists charged with reviewing games.

Metacritic, a site that aggregates industry reviews from publications such as PlayStation LifeStyle, Gameplanet, and IGN, and pairs them alongside user reviews, shows that this divide is much greater when it comes to games than with music or movies.

The recent blockbuster game Assassin’s Creed Unity gets a rating of 70 out of 100 from 40 critics, but a mere 4.6 out of 10 from users.

NBA 2K15 gets an 83 from critics, but a 6.8 from users.

And “Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth” gets an 81 from critics, but falls flat with users, who give it 5.5 out of 10.

Dying Light may prove to be the best game of 2015, lauded by critics and users alike. But in a video game industry that has been built by it fans to be bigger than Hollywood, the optics of the game’s release suggest it might have more in common with “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector” than it does with “Citizen Kane”.

Below: Dying Light Walkthrough Gameplay Part 1 – Awakening – Campaign Mission 1 (PS4 Xbox One)

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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.

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  1. Stop slinging your garbage. I have seem this on at least 5 different websites now and nobody is interested. your just making your reputation even worse than it already is by using the comments section for free advertising

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