Bethesda to Send out Early Review Copies Again

Bethesda is now willing to send out early review codes in some circumstances, says the publisher.

Some of you may remember that Bethesda generated a great deal of controversy a couple years ago when it announced that media outlets would only receive review codes for new games on the day that the games were released to the public (or the day before). Recently, though, Bethesda has been sending out codes for new games ahead of their official release. In an interview with VG247, Bethesda’s Pete Hines spoke about the company’s apparent change of heart. 

“We put out Evil Within 2 and sent it out to press well in advance, and we did the same thing for Wolfenstein 2. Then there were other games that we sent out at launch,” Hines said. “I think we’re going to continue to evaluate what makes the most sense.”

That statement suggests that Bethesda hasn’t technically withdrawn its “day of” review code policy but is instead prepared to utilize a case-by-case basis to determine when codes will be sent out. However, a follow-up statement from Hines hints that Bethesda might no longer be willing to rock the boat when it comes to withholding major releases from media outlets. 

“We did it the first time because there was the whole thing about transparency and companies needing to be transparent,” Hines said. “Then it ended up being the focal point and, honestly, we were tired of reading reviews where the first paragraph spent more time talking about our review policy than the game. So we decided we’re not going to keep drawing attention to it – we’ll send out copies and maybe people will start talking about the game instead of talking about policies. So we did.”

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Hines cites online games like The Elder Scrolls Online and Fallout 76 as titles that are hard to get out to media ahead of time – because they are dependent on live servers to a degree – but he otherwise seems open to following a more traditional media release format. 

So why did Bethesda implement the old review policy in the first place? The company’s official statements indicate that it was interested in having everyone (media and consumers) experience the games at the same time. However, some speculated that the policy was intended as kind of a failsafe used to protect games against negative response. 

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