With Starfield on almost the horizon, some publications and journalists have noted that they have yet to receive their review copy of the highly anticipated game. Some already have pointed out that this unsurprisingly backlisting may stem from the years of farming click hate from gamers. However deserving as it may seem, it could have unintended consequences for the balance of game reviews.

Look, I know most of us have had ill opinions on the way gaming journalism has evolved over the years, with a lot of it centered around odd takes and farming hate clicks, however, I don’t think allowing corporations to “choose” who gets to review their game will benefit the gaming community in the long run. No matter how you may feel, one of the core principles of a healthy gaming industry is open and honest communication. The only time I personally would Blacklist, or see Blacklisting as a valid option is when the outlets in question have had a history of breaking NDAs or have had a track record of publishing proofable misleading articles. Saying something negative about a game or a studio should not be grounds for Blacklisting so long as what is been said has some validity to it.

Transparency and credibility of any outlet should be assessed before making the decision to Blacklist. It should be called into question if a corporation has blacklisted its game from a journalist or publication and made public the reason for it. Otherwise, blacklisting may perpetuate an echo chamber, where only positive or promotional content is allowed to surface. And given the already existing hostility of gamers towards most game journalists recently, it could allow corporations to piggyback on that anger and selectively “Blacklist” journalists and publications who are fair and critical of games, and allow those to tend to sweeten their tongues for possible favors in the future. Masquerading it as “fighting the enemy of gaming.”

We already know how some game developers felt when Baldur’s Gate 3 was released, and the attitude that they had about it. It was a very concerning matter for most gamers and it put into question the effort and passion of said developers and studios. Now imagine if these developers could selectively choose who they allowed to review their games, never allowing those who would genuinely point out the flaws of their games to be able to assess their games first. All reviews would just be a basket case of media marketing, rather than a proper and critical evaluation of a product.

I hope that the outlets that claimed to have not received Starfield were just the unlucky individuals who didn’t qualify for the review copy, rather than an omen that could spell trouble for the gaming scene if left unchecked and unchallenged. Blacklisting game journalists and publications without a solid foundation and reasoning could be detrimental to the gaming industry’s health and more importantly, to the gamers who, despite not wanting to admit this, still care about reviews to get a swift understanding of a game before making the decision to purchase it.

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