这并不是一种穷凶极恶的要求，并且通常都是基于礼貌性措辞，特别是对于小型游戏来说，合理的评论时间将有效影响着游戏的销量。Ars Technica就为何早期游戏评论将不利于这些游戏销量这一问题与Tom Ohle（游戏邦注：正在执行刚刚发行的《Anomaly: Warzone Earth》的PR工作）展开交谈：
今天《Anomaly: Warzone Earth》就要与玩家见面了。我想说的是，这份工作的部分乐趣便是来自于对游戏的支持。而在这次谈话后，我们最需要做的一件事便是：坐等评论。
How early reviews hurt sales of indie games
by Ben Kuchera
When a game reviewer is given a copy of a game for consideration, we’re almost always told when we’re allowed to publish the review. In a perfect world, these embargoes put everyone on the same footing and allow reviewers to play through a game in its entirety instead of rushing through it to be first. In the real world, they’re often used to make sure an outlet picked by the publisher gets an exclusive. That’s a story for another time; we’re here to discuss another issue that has come up in conversations with independent developers. Many of them want reviews of their games published no earlier than the day of release, when the game is available for purchase.
This isn’t nefarious, and the request is always phrased politely, but the timing of a review for a smaller game can have a huge impact on the sales of that game. Ars Technica spoke with Tom Ohle, who is doing PR for the just-released Anomaly: Warzone Earth, about why early game reviews can hurt the sales of these games.
Ohle first showed me Anomaly at this year’s Game Developers Conference. I loved what I saw and requested an early build to play and report on. When I received a final copy of the game for review, it came with a friendly request to hold reviews until a certain date.
“The concerns I have about early reviews of indie games—or games in general, really—have been made more relevant by the rise of digital distribution, a constant flow of competition across various platforms and the speed at which the hivemind moves on to the next hot thing,” Ohle said. “You need to give products every chance possible to succeed, and to do that, you really need to time your publicity effectively.”
Major developers have leverage over review sites because big games drive big traffic. Small developers don’t have that same influence, which means that they have to work with writers without resorting to heavy-handed tactics. “I hate embargoes—strictly enforced embargoes, at least. With Anomaly, we really just said, ‘look, it would be great if you didn’t write about this early, because the developers’ livelihood depends on getting sales.’” There were no threats and nothing to sign, just a reminder that it was important for the developer that reviews not be published early.
So why are early reviews so destructive to independent games? “Excuse me while I get all grade-school mathematician here. Let’s say a review at a really popular site gets, what, 10,000 views? I’m really just guessing here, but that number seems fair,” Ohle said. The trick is to get those people to buy the game, and even if only 10 percent of readers purchase the title you’re looking at 1,000 units sold.
Without talking about our numbers specifically, Ohle may be significantly under-selling the reach of the more popular gaming sites. Our look at Slice HD, for example, had a readership an order of magnitude higher than 10,000 readers, and will be one of our most popular stories this month. It’s also another example of a game with a low price from a smaller studio.
And there are sites much larger than Ars; I once spoke to a PR person at a trade show who told me a positive mention on Penny Arcade was like “being touched by the light,” and if that mention happens when the game can be purchased directly, it can mean a significant number of sales.
“If there’s nowhere for those players to buy or preorder that game, then every day you’re likely to lose a percentage of them to the next big thing” Ohle explained. The trick is accessibility: independent developers hope to create a situation where their game earns a positive review, and gamers are able to purchase the game the moment they’re done reading about it.
“Especially with smaller, more affordable games up to $10, you’re really banking on a lot of players making an impulse purchase; at $50 it’s more likely to be a well-thought-out decision,” Ohle explained. “If a review is positive, you want people to be able to buy the game right then and there, and if they can’t, there’s a good chance they could forget about it, and you’ve lost that sale for the time being or, worse, forever.”
This didn’t just come up with coverage for Anomaly; there have been multiple independent developers who e-mail us about coverage for their games, while at the same time asking that reviews or coverage be held until the game is available for purchase. If sites review a new big-budget game from a major publisher early and give it a positive score there will be commercials, print ads, and in-store displays to remind you that you should buy the game. With an indie game, if the developer can’t convert that initial buzz into sales, they may not get another chance at the audience.
“Particularly in the indie space, you’re already dealing with smaller mindshare than, say, Call of Duty or the new iPad, and you’re not going to maintain that mindshare indefinitely,” Ohle said. “Next week a new game will be out, and you’ll have a much harder time getting media coverage and otherwise getting exposure and sales for your game.”
Just to drive the point home
More thoughts on the game are coming soon, but Anomaly: Warzone Earth will be released today. You should really buy it, because it’s a wonderful game. Part of the fun of this job is supporting games that do interesting or exciting things. After this conversation, I know that one of the best ways to do that is counter-intuitive: sit on the review for a bit.(source:arstechnica)