news\ Oct 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm

How IGN's Daemon Hatfield Should've Responded, Instead of Removing Review


If you haven't heard by now, an IGN review of PixelJunk SideScroller has caused quite the stir in the gaming community. In short, IGN reviewer Daemon Hatfield posted his review of PixelJunk SideScroller, a game which he scored a 6.5 (a mediocre score, but relatively low compared to the inflated scores of today's blockbuster titles). Sorry Cuthbert & Cliffy B, but not every game is a 10, stop whining to reviewers.  But the score isn't what caused the controversy. The problem started when PJSideScroller developer Dylan Cuthbert called out Hatfield for not playing the game on normal, and as a result, not unlocking the last epic stage. The reason this is important is because Daemon complained that after beating the final boss he was kicked back to the title screen instead of getting a fulfilling ending.

Here's where the problem starts. Rather than admit that he played the game on casual, he lied about it. He assured Cuthbert that he beat it on normal, at which point Cuthbert called him out and said had he beat it on normal he would have seen the entire ending sequence.

This was Hatfield's first mistake. He lied to the developer and to the fans. Rather than try to cover up the fact that he sucks at platformers and had to play on casual, he should have admitted to it. Rather than try to hide it, he should have retaliated something along the lines of, “That's right, I played on casual, and the ending was unfulfilling because you chose to not include the final boss in the casual version.” As a professional reviewer, you should never lie. You work your entire career to earn respect from your readers, and a lie made public – thanks to today's Twitter world – could shatter your reputation forever.

Look, Hatfield didn't have to lie. He could have just admitted to playing it on casual and asked why they chose to not have an ending for that mode. A good question and possible reason for scoring a game lower. Now, I haven't played the game, but as a reviewer, I would wonder why casual players are shafted from a complete game experience.

Let's be honest, Daemon Hatfield is a professional reviewer. He does this for a job. What comes with a job? Multiple responsibilities. I'm not trying to formulate excuses, but to empathize with Hatfield, he probably had a very tight deadline to complete this PSN game and didn't have the time to play through the game on every difficulty. Did he take the easy way out by playing on casual? Probably, but he may not be very good at side-scrollers. Did he do every gamer injustice by playing on casual? Probably not. After all, not everyone who purchases this game will be playing on normal.

So after this public discussion took place on Twitter, Hatfield did the unthinkable. He got caught, panicked, and did the first thing that came to mind – covered up the evidence that he didn't play on normal. He actually removed a part of his review which showed that he played on casual. Below you can see the before and after.

Of course, Dylan Cuthbert noticed and called him out for it.  Below you can see the before and after of Hatfield's review.

Hatfield, from one reviewer to another, you NEVER change a review once it's gone public. Newspapers don't get a second chance to reprint, and neither do sites. Instead, man up to your decision to play on casual and defend your stance. Now I'm not sure how things work over at IGN, but if it were me, I would make an announcement defending my reasoning for scoring the game a 6.5 (I highly doubt the lack of an ending cause the game to be 3.5 points lower than a perfect score). Hopefully, there were other reasons, and maybe he should go back and state those exact reasons. Apologize for letting readers down by misleading them and admit to your “mistake”.

It's easy for readers to crucify Hatfield for tweaking his review, but let's be honest, Daemon Hatfield isn't the first reviewer to review a game after playing it on casual, and definitely won't be the last. Everybody has deadlines. When crunch time comes, you do what you need to do to get a review up, especially at the formal IGN where everything looks to have a tight schedule. Hatfield had to play the game on casual to meet his deadline. The problem isn't with him playing on casual. It's the fact that he hid it and lied to fans. Time to rebuild that trust.

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