Atari Sues Websites Over Pre-Release Reviews Of Games

from the what's-illegal-here? dept

Slashdot points us to the news that Atari has started suing various websites that posted reviews of new games prior to the release date of the games. The reviews are negative, but the real problem, according to Atari, is that there was a press embargo on reviewing the games, and if someone has a copy of the game prior to the embargo and hasn't agreed to the embargo, then it's clear that they pirated the game. At least one site has explained that it purchased the game legally from a retail source who mistakenly sold the game before the release date -- which would suggest the problem is with the retailer, not the reviewer. No matter what, the whole thing seems ridiculous. Suing those who review your games (even if the reviews are not good or if the reviews come out early) is a sure way to make sure many sites refuse to review anything you do again.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    some old gy, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 7:51am

    The illegal part

    The illegal part should be sending the lawyers in before asking questions. /sigh

     

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  2.  
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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 24th, 2008 @ 8:13am

    Embargoes are gentlemen's agreements, not contracts

    Embargoes are gentlemen's agreements, not valid contracts.

    The publisher should simply not invite them to a another pre-launch.

    Whilst they can sue them (as they could for wearing a loud shirt in a built up area), that doesn't make the contract valid.

    Reviewers cannot alienate themselves from their freedom of speech.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 8:22am

    "Suing those who review your games (even if the reviews are not good or if the reviews come out early) is a sure way to make sure many sites refuse to review anything you do again."

    No, it will make sure these review sites rape your product for every niggling thing they like out of pure spite. You have to culture a positive relationship with the blogsphere.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 8:54am

    The real problem with this game

    Is this game. It does suck. I played it for about an hour last night and I had to force myself to play that long. I think the character in the game is drunk which is a problem when you have to jump over flaming pits.

    Maybe it gets better, but I'll probably never find out.

     

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  5.  
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    M., Jun 24th, 2008 @ 9:10am

    We live in a world full of Assholes.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 9:17am

    Atari is still around? I thought they went bankrupt after Test Drive Unlimited?

     

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  7.  
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    ehrichweiss, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 9:17am

    Who!?!?

    Seriously, Atari is still around? And they're stupid enough to piss off the few people who will pay any attention to them. Well now I know why my 2600 went the way of the dinosaur at least.

     

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  8.  
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    Eliot, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 9:32am

    I don't think you guys paid attention....

    The group who reviewed the game DIDN'T agree to the embargo, they were an independant reviewer and got the game when a retailer sold it early on accident.

    It is, without question, however, a dumb move on Atari's part to (a) try and have a media embargo on their game, and; (b) sue someone who isn't part of the media embargo for not following the media embargo.

    Maybe they are going for the Streisand effect....?

     

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  9.  
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    Atari's Solution, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 10:28am

    Here's an idea for Atari

    Don't make games that suck and you won't have to worry about negative reviews. Gee you didn't hear about Rockstar suing IGN for it's perfect 10 prior to release oh wait...I understand now. Atari wants to dupe consumers out of $60 for a craptasticly awful game.

    Step 1. Make Terrible Game
    Step 2. Remember your prime with the 2600 and sigh.
    Step 3. Sue because your game sucks
    Step 4. Profit.

    I think I'm ready to be CEO of a Video Game company.

     

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  10.  
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    Overcast, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 10:45am

    When gaming - I like to avoid anything that involves lawyers in anyway. I'll keep it in mind when looking at games and I see the name 'Atari'.

    I hate crying over negative reviews. I've played some fantastic games, that I've seen reviewed 'bad'.

     

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  11.  
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    icepick314, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 10:47am

    Huh?!?

    okay...Atari's suing because of suspected piracy?

    so they go to court, make their case, the reviewer shows the legitimate copy of the game with receipt, Atari loses, the reviewer countersues with wrongful lawsuit, Atari pays for the lawsuit cost, Atari still have crappy review of the game AND crappy reputation of being petty and immature....

    and no one at Atari can see the outcome?

     

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  12.  
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    JR, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 10:48am

    From Atari's point of view??

    Please understand that I am playing Devil's Advocate here. This opinion may or may not represent my own views.
    ----------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------- --

    Atari has been around for a long time, they've done this a time or two. Any pre-release media previews or demos (hands-on or not) would have been accompanied by an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). This is a contract and violation of the agreement is subject to prosecution.

    Even if not specifically under an NDA, the independent review site, regardless of how they acquired the software, had to know the game at issue was not yet released for public retail. If they were not, then they don't do a very good job at what they do. If they were, as they should have been, then are they not obligated at some level, as responsible journalist, to inform Atari of problems with their supplier chain? Who am I kidding, there is no responsibility in journalism anymore. Oh...different rant..sorry. No, instead they did what you or I would probably do "Got it first!!". Ok, it happens, but Atari was denied this information.

    If, as the site claims, they acquired the software thru legal and public means, then Atari has the right and obligation to find out where and who their supplier problems are. You can not deny that media types are quick to protect the anonymity of their sources, in which case Atari has little choice but to sue in order to discover where the problems are.

    If, on the other hand, the site acquired the software on sly, be it piracy or some under-the-table or other type of deal, then clearly the site in question is in the wrong, and again Atari is obligated to protect its interests and uncover the wrongdoing.

    Clearly these are but a couple of points of many from Atari's point of view. Add to that the fact that a premature early negative "official review", be it true or not, will taint the title, potentially skew future review opinions, and kill sales, very likely costing Atari any chance of at lest recouping development costs from release week sales.

    Atari was put in a situation with few, if any, other options.

     

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  13.  
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    Kris from Alaska, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 11:09am

    Atari Shot Down

    Why can't a dying game company just die? It amazes me how ignorant people of corporations in the gaming/motion picture/music industry are these days. If you even casually glance at the news buzzing around in the blogsphere, you know you should actually consider alternate routes than to just throw your lawyers at any problem you come across. All you end up with is a lawsuit that gets thrown out and a severe backlash from your consumers. Masochistic business management seems to be the rule of thumb lately.

     

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  14.  
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    Red, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 11:12am

    Yeah I don't really agree that what Atari is doing is totally wrong.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 11:16am

    Re: From Atari's point of view??

    what

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 11:17am

    No future ATARI game reviews needed, THEY ALL SUCK!!!!

    Problem solved & ATARI goes broke.

    Good For Them! "Asshats"!

     

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  17.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 12:01pm

    Re: I don't think you guys paid attention....

    "Maybe they are going for the Streisand effect....?"

    Maybe, but it worked backwards for me. I played the original AitD and was thinking about picking this one up but now I don't think I'll even download the demo (if there is on on the 360)

     

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  18.  
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    nipseyrussell, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 1:52pm

    "Even if not specifically under an NDA, the independent review site.....had to know the game at issue was not yet released for public retail....... are they not obligated at some level, as responsible journalist, to inform Atari of problems with their supplier chain?"
    of course not. Why would they take this upon themselves to right such an inconsequential wrong to which they are not a party. No one seems to be saying that an NDA was violated here, the only point atari seems to be making is that if someone reviewed it they must have pirated it.
    Further:
    "Within an hour [after posting], Atari called to have the review pulled off, claiming there was an embargo till Friday," Bergervoet said in a comment to Shacknews. "Our review copy was sent directly to us by Atari and [was] not a pirated copy. They explicitly told [Gamer.nl] that they only let high scoring reviews break the post-release embargo date."
    Atari really should go screw. Also, buy a new nose to replace the one they are furiously chewing off to spite their face.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2008 @ 11:05am

    Re: From Atari's point of view??

    You're not being a good Devil's Advocate, unless you consider strawmen "good"

    Atari has been around for a long time, they've done this a time or two. Any pre-release media previews or demos (hands-on or not) would have been accompanied by an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). This is a contract and violation of the agreement is subject to prosecution.

    1) NDA and their legality has been discussed on TD before, look it up, I'm not bothering with repeating it

    2) even when an NDA has legality, it's only if you sign it/agree to it. Sending an NDA along with a game (or CD or DVD) does not fulfill that condition at all


    Even if not specifically under an NDA, the independent review site, regardless of how they acquired the software, had to know the game at issue was not yet released for public retail. If they were not, then they don't do a very good job at what they do. If they were, as they should have been, then are they not obligated at some level, as responsible journalist, to inform Atari of problems with their supplier chain? Who am I kidding, there is no responsibility in journalism anymore. Oh...different rant..sorry. No, instead they did what you or I would probably do "Got it first!!". Ok, it happens, but Atari was denied this information.

    Short answer: NO.
    This journalistic responsibility you refer to is, or has historically been, to the public and/or society. Why would any journalist, no matter how responsible, feel or be obligated on any level to inform a private, commercial company that a retail store screwed up by selling their game early? Why should they be obliged on any level to help police Atari's supply chain?

    If, as the site claims, they acquired the software thru legal and public means, then Atari has the right and obligation to find out where and who their supplier problems are.

    Sure, however the reviewer has no obligation whatsoever to help Atari with this.

    Atari was put in a situation with few, if any, other options.

    One option would, obviously, be to make games that suck less.

    Furthermore, if their real concern was review sites getting their hands on illegal/pirated copies, shouldn't they equally go after reviews for games that got positive pre-release reviews?

     

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