Bethesda Softworks have announced that media outlets will only receive copies of their upcoming games on the day prior to release.
In a blog post on their website, Bethesda announced the move in light of the critical and commercial success of DOOM, which also followed the same policy and drew criticism and concern over the quality of the game as a result.
Bethesda are no strangers to a run in with the mainstream gaming media. In 2013, gossip site Kotaku ran an article detailing leaks from a casting call for the then in production Fallout 4, including sections of the games opening script, which resulted in the site being blackballed from future media coverage.
The company have reasoned that they wish for content producers, irrespective of their medium, to be able to produce coverage for their game starting at the same time.
Response to the move has inevitably been divisive, with certain sections of the media claiming that “the best advice for gamers would probably be to not be attracted to preorder bonuses and bundles.”
This claim seems like a bit of a smoke screen however, given the quality of the games that Bethesda release and the relatively low value and scarcity of pre-order incentives provided by them for games such as Skyrim, Fallout 4, Wolfenstein and DOOM.
Simply put, aside from a completion or collectors standpoint, there is little to no reason to pre-order Bethesda games, but people will do so based on the strength of the franchises and fan commitment.
Media sites will tend not to risk biting the hand that feeds them, and given the high levels of animosity over the past few years between media, developer and consumer alike, I find it unlikely that this new policy, if applied solely by Bethesda, will make much of a difference to consumer trust.
The first game to be affected by the new policy, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim Special Edition, will be released on the 28th of October 2016.