So, if you’re a fan of the franchise, you’re probably already up to date on the whole Konami-NDA blowup. To sum it all in as few words as possible, I’ll restate it as such:
Konami didn’t like a review that was written about Metal Gear Solid 4 that mentioned the cutscene length, and length of the install time. They didn’t like it so much, they told the reviewer not to mention it. They also pointed out that the NDA they had provided specifically stated that no reviewer could mention these things.
OK, first off, no one is disputing the need for an NDA, or that Konami is fully justified in requiring reviewers to sign one. This is an industry standard practice that protects video game makers and generally helps the general public in the end run. The only way a reviewer can have a full review ready by the time of lauch is if they have a copy of the game before anyone else does. The NDA then typically ensures that they don’t turn around and say “I know none of you can even play the game for another 4 weeks, but the butler did it and the girl dies in the end! Have fun!”.
The difference in this case that Konami specifically stated things about the game other than storyline that they didn’t want the public to know.
This was insanely dumb, for simple reasons.
Reason #1: We KNOW some titles have long install times on the PS3. It’s sort of a given!
Reason #2: If you’ve ever played ANY Metal Gear Solid game, you already know it has long cut scenes! The MGS franchise is more like a movie that lets you twiddle your thumbs every once in a while. I used to know where a comic strip was that dealt with this was, but after much searching I couldn’t find it. Instead I will use real expirience: My brother wanted to show off his new copy of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. 10 minutes into the game, we still hadn’t played it yet. Yes, it was gorgeous. No, you couldn’t skip it.
Reason #3: Video game publisher’s are already under scrutiny from the consumers as rigging video game reviews as it is! When Grand Theft Auto 4 was released, IGN already had a review out for weeks, thanks to a “special deal” IGN had worked out with Rockstar Games (who publishes the GTA series). People were positive had mainly to do with A) massive amounts of money, and/or B) a glowingly positive review that left objectivity behind in favor of a 4 page advertisement that looked like a review.
Of course, IGN was eventually cleared when the game was released and the public realized the game actually was everything that IGN said it was. Appearances can mean a lot though.
Game reviewers have an important job in the industry that I think go overlooked by many people. A vast amount of gamers are not the typical 14 year old basement dwellers with disposable incomes and all the free time in the world. A lot of us are parents and/or full time students and/or full time workers with rent, car payments, bills, and other real world obligations. We don’t have the luxury of buying every new game that comes out and catches our fancy only to realize we don’t like it and return it.
Imagine if other developers started putting requests similar to Konami’s in their NDA: you can review this, but please don’t mention the violent sex scene that takes place in first person perspective. In the first scene. As the game is installing.
Thankfully, Konami revised their NDA after much bad press and stated they didn’t want reviewers to mention WHICH cut scenes were the longest. That’s still a bit odd, but at least understandable. Hopefully they know better next time.