Statement: A lot of people were very angry about our Guild Wars 2 hands-on preview, which was published on BeefJack yesterday. We’d like to address some of the concerns that people have had.
An awful lot of people disagreed with Jamie Donnelly’s preview of Guild Wars 2, which he wrote after spending three days with closed beta access provided by a PR representative responsible for the game. In fact, it’s become one of the most commented articles on our humble but fast-growing website – and a great deal of them are negative.
Since I imagine a few people reading this won’t be familiar with BeefJack, I’ll take the time to introduce myself. I’m Lewis, the editor here. I’m the one who assigned the preview, arranged the code, signed the NDA and all the other gumph related to the writing of the preview other than – y’know – actually playing the game and writing about it.
There are a few concerns that have repeatedly come up in the comments thread, which I’ll address specifically below. But firstly, for the sake of transparency, I want to talk a little bit about how we assign work internally at BeefJack. When we organise a preview, review, feature or blog post, an editor will ask BeefJack’s writers if anyone has a particular interest in the game in question. We know what everyone’s passions are, which types of game they like and dislike, and so through a combination of these details and individual writers’ requests, we assign code.
In this case, Jamie approached me after I mentioned we had Guild Wars 2 beta access available. Jamie is a big World of Warcraft player, as many in the comments thread have been quick to pick up on, but he’s played a range of MMOs during his gaming career – including the original Guild Wars. Jamie told me he’d been following Guild Wars 2 with interest, thought the game’s features looked exciting, and asked if he could be the one to preview the game. I said yes.
Jamie turned in his preview late on Sunday night and I edited it on Monday morning, ready for publication when the press embargo lifted at 2PM. I made minor cosmetic changes to the text, but nothing substantial. It was, for the record, me who added the line “Disappointing at this stage, though” to the end of the review, as I’d chopped something out of the final paragraph and needed to reseal it. I also take absolutely full responsibility for not picking up on the confusion that may arise from the term “free-to-play” – as an editor it is my job to pick up on elements in the text which may mislead, and it was me who dropped the ball here, not Jamie.
Basically, everything went ahead as normal. And then the comments began to arrive. I take any accusations leveled at BeefJack extremely seriously, and as such arranged to speak to Jamie today to go over some of the concerns that were raised. Jamie tells me he spent a large portion of his weekend playing the beta, clocking many hours in the game. He also took the time to clarify some of the points that many of you felt were muddy in the preview, but for what it’s worth, I think they were clear enough. So. Onto some specific concerns, or things people have suggested are the case.
BeefJack is biased towards World of Warcraft / old-style MMOs
BeefJack isn’t biased towards anyone. In fact, we’re proudly and fiercely independent, and take great measures to avoid bias, or point out in disclosures where our vision may have accidentally been coloured. This isn’t one of those cases. Is it true that we like World of Warcraft a lot? Some of our writers do, certainly – we’ve definitely always given WoW releases extremely high scores. We’re also, however, passionate about embracing innovation. We last saw Guild Wars 2 towards the end of last year, and if you take a look at that preview you’ll see that we said it looked extremely promising. Much of Jamie’s disappointment came from being excited about the genre changes Guild Wars 2 makes, but feeling they didn’t live up to his expectations.
Jamie gave Star Wars: The Old Republic 9 out of 10
Jamie didn’t review The Old Republic. One of our freelancers, Adam Harshberger, did. I assume the implication here is that The Old Republic is an old-style MMO that does little to innovate, and therefore should be praised less than the competition. In fact, Adam foresaw this sort of argument when writing his review, which is why he went to great lengths to explain why he felt the game was worthy of such a high score despite its innovative shortcomings. As far as I can remember, Jamie has never expressed to me an opinion on The Old Republic.
Jamie gave Guild Wars 2 3 out of 10
I’m still not sure where this has come from, but I’ve seen a couple of comments to this effect. We haven’t reviewed Guild Wars 2 yet. It isn’t finished. What you read was a hands-on preview based on a restricted and limited play session, and has no score at the end. So there is literally no way we could have given it 3 out of 10. Jamie assigned an excitement rating that operates on a sliding scale from ‘Meh’ to ‘Holy cow!’, on which he positioned it a little below the middle. The image name is ‘excite-2.png’, but this isn’t a score, it’s just the name of the file. The excitement rating isn’t meant to indicate any kind of final judgement on the game. It’s an indication of how giddy we are about a title. Many games that prove to be quite good get relatively low excitement ratings.
The preview isn’t objective
You’re absolutely correct, it isn’t. We want all our content to be convincing, thorough and well-argued, but we care not for objectivity. We encourage our writers to voice their personal opinions about the games they cover, and I trust them to do so because I know everyone we work with is experienced and knowledgeable in the field.
The preview is factually inaccurate
If this is the case, we want to know about it, and will absolutely publish a retraction. So far, several people have accused the preview of containing factual inaccuracies, but no one has yet provided compelling evidence that this is the case. The most common complaint in this category seems to be that Jamie stated that Guild Wars 2′s questing system is the same as World of Warcraft’s. I’ve read the article again and again and it simply isn’t true: the dynamic events are covered, and criticised for not feeling fresh enough, not for literally not being any different to what’s currently around.
BeefJack just published this for hits / comments / signups / tries to spam people with its newsletter
I’ve grouped all these together because it’s easier to answer in one fell swoop: no, that’s not the case. Frankly, a couple of days of high traffic on a single article does nothing for us from a business perspective, other than perhaps make people less likely to visit the site in the future if they believe we’re just farming for hits. It would make no sense for us to behave in this way. As for the accusation that you can only register at BeefJack if you agree to receive a newsletter, I’ve forwarded this issue to our tech guys. It certainly shouldn’t be the case. For the record, I just registered a test account now to see what would happen, and was able to sign up just fine without agreeing to the newsletter.
Once again, I take this level of criticism extremely seriously and will always do everything I can to put right any ills. I am happy to communicate directly with anyone who wishes to email me – you can find my address on our about page. (Please don’t contact any of our other staff about this, it’s nothing to do with them.) As for the comments on the preview itself, I’m going to leave them open – but do know that any messages that are personally insulting, that simply attack the site, or which cover the same ground as I’ve covered in this post will be deleted. We want to engender a healthy and happy community of gamers here, who enjoy debate and discussion on a topic they’re passionate about. Please help us to keep it that way.