CVG is reporting today that Crytek is “distancing itself” from remarks made by its Director of Creative Development, Rasmus Højengaard, last Wednesday when Højengaard said that used-game blocking technology would be “absolutely awesome.”
“My comment made in the interview released on the 24th of April, touching upon ‘blocking sales of used games’, was not intended to be taken seriously nor representative of the opinion of Crytek,” Højengaard said.
The original story flew around the net, spreading from CVG’s original story to Gamespot, AfterDawn, Cinema Blend, Forbes, Tom’s Guide, and GamePolitics. The comments from Højengaard echoed to thousands of people who were understandably irate at the news that a company was throwing their weight behind such a controversial practice.
The problem is that Crytek never said anything of the sort. A Crytek employee gave his personal views and the game journalists attributed it to the company Crytek instead of to a Crytek employee. Take a look at all those headlines in the aforementioned articles. They all read that Crytek, the company, has taken a stance on used-game blocking technology. Even where there are bylines that clarify that it was actually the one person giving the statement it’s always presented in the context that he’s speaking for the company.
“Crysis developer Crytek hopes the next generation of consoles take steps to stamp out used games,” opens the Gamespot article. Forbes introduces the controversial statement with “Which brings us to used games, another phenomenon Crytek would be happy to end if it could. Asked whether he’d like to see a used game blocking feature in next-gen consoles, Højengaard said…” Tom’s guide opines “So what does Crytek want to see in the next generation of consoles? A way to block used games, of course. Who cares what you the consumer wants, right?”
The worst of this is CVG since they are the source for the statement in question. Their original byline reads “The introduction of an anti-used game measure for next-gen consoles would be ‘absolutely awesome,’ says Crysis dev Crytek,” [emphasis mine] before the article clarifies that it was the opinion of the Creative Director and he was speaking from “a business perspective.”
The media is taking what one man has said and attributing it to the company he works for. It’s no surprise that Crytek has now released a statement distancing themselves from those comments. They never said it in the first place and it has been incorrectly attributed to them thanks to gaming journalists everywhere. Out of all the places to report on the original story, tech site BGR was the only place to acknowledge that it was the sentiments of a single employee. I’m not so sure that the “not intended to be taken seriously” part is legitimately truthful, so much as a knee-jerk response to sudden controversy, but Højengaard isn’t simply spouting PR speak in this apology, he’s telling the absolute truth: his statements should not, by any stretch of the imagination, have been said to be Crytek’s. But the damage is already done.
The CVG comments are filled with people laughing at Crytek for “retreating” from their “original statement” after CVG incorrectly identified Crytek having the sentiment in the first place. This is the sort of thing that any reputable news source should be publishing a correction for and admitting a mea culpa but, instead, it seems like CVG has left Crytek to twist in the wind and absorb all the negative press they’ve generated for the European developer.
Cinema Blend is not helping matters with another misleading headline: Crytek Backtracks On Blocking Used Games in Next-Gen Comments after already parroting CVG’s misleading article. The Sixth Axis has just flat out chosen to ignore the second half of the actual official statement and make an entire article based on the questionable first part.
This phenomenon seems to happen all the time in the industry. News outlets interview a person, choose select quotations and make an article out of it and then attribute the one person’s stance to the entire company causing widespread shockwaves for more hits and, of course, more ad revenue. It happened when Rich Hilleman, the Chief Creative Director at EA Games, talked to Gamasutra about the evolution of the gaming industry.
At some point, he excitedly talked about how selling Minecraft on Origin would be a good idea after Gamasutra asked him specifically if someone else could have sold Minecraft for Notch. Hilleman didn’t just yell out his window to a gaming journalist walking by about how he wanted Origin to sell Minecraft, he was responding candidly to a specific question.
Of course, news sites were soon reporting that EA says Mojang needs their help to sell Minecraft. Here’s the Indie Games Magazine, Gamespy, and even us. Luckily Notch is affable enough and the statement wasn’t intruding with consumer relations so it was cleanly forgotten with no hard feelings for anyone. But it was a misattribution that should not have happened.
Why is it common practice to take one man’s statements and treat them as if they were official statements from the company? I’m sure if Rasmus Højengaard were in charge of retail distribution or the CEO of Crytek, he could very well speak for the company’s stance on used-games since he would be in a position to guide the company towards his vision. But as Director of Creative Development, he is “Responsible for the creative and conceptual high-level direction and development across all Crytek game IPs. Furthermore involved in branding, positioning and marketing strategy internally as well as in collaboration with the publishers.” Not quite the same job position.
It’s worth noting that he framed the controversial statement as being from a business perspective. That is not a commitment to the technology or even a debatable view. I’m sure even Valve would say that the idea of stopping used games sales is pleasant from a business perspective because, well, it is. But from various other perspectives, like public relations, it’s not a good thing at all. Of course, the context behind the statement is unknown since CVG has yet to publish the interview but only said in today’s article that he had to be “questioned further” to make that statement.
So now what? Crytek is left to absorb flak for something they never said thanks to a case of quotemining? Is that how the game journalism industry works?