Friday, November 16, 2012

Don't Feed the Dog that Bites You

Non-Disclosure Agreements (or NDAs for short) are a common form of contract used in the video game industry today. Originally the purpose of these things was to prevent bug testers from giving out inaccurate, misleading or spoiler filled information about a game still under development. However, in recent years NDAs have been playing a larger and larger role in marketing. I would say it's no big deal except that some of these publisher/journalist deals are allowing unlawful websites to get the scoop.

Compounding this problem is the tendency for there to be a big buildup to launch. Followed by an intense rush of attention which rapidly declines over the next several days. So, why does it matter?   Well...I'm not a fan of most big gaming websites, but I do feel it's generally unfair when respectful outlets are forced to wait on fully covering major releases while at the same time hackers and pirates get free reign over the flow of information.  It's not good for the reviewers and it doesn't do developers any favors either.  Then again maybe PR firms are more interested in keeping the media providers on a tight leash regardless of the actual benefits (or lack there of).

"Control over Reason," has long been the unsung creed of DRM, so it saddens me to see that NDAs are taking up a similar slogan. I think that publishers and marketing departments need to seriously reconsider the strategies they are employing here. What's the point of having these kind of legal agreements when they really only punish the just?

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