OPSM’s Black Ops ‘Verdict’

This is a personal blog and the opinions below do not necessarily reflect those of TheSixthAxis.

Yesterday, whilst scouting the internet for gaming news, I saw that a couple of sites had reported that Official Playstation Magazine UK had the world’s first review for Call of Duty: Black Ops. I had a quick read through the news items and as expected the game had scored very highly – but OPSM seemed to have changed their scoring system this issue as the game was rated as five stars, not an out-of-ten score.

I had been expecting someone to bag the ‘exclusive’ first review of the game and it made sense it would be a high profile publication like OPSM. They are a well respected magazine with strong ties to all publishers.

Now this is may come as a bit of a shock to you all but I do have some morals and I decided if I were to quote OPSM magazine in a TSA news item about their review I really should buy a copy of the magazine rather than just take the quotes from another gaming site. A quick stroll to Sainsbury’s and there’s the magazine on the shelf, the cover featuring the Black Ops guy sitting down with “EXCLUSIVE VERDICT!” in nice big red letters on the front. I dutifully pay my £5.99, throw the useless Blu-ray in the bin and sit down for quick read.

At this point I make a schoolboy error and one that we regularly discuss on TSA – I ignored the text and looked straight at the score, or in this case, scores as OPSM have rated the game on three separate aspects: Technical, Online and Campaign. I am confused and flip to another review and it has the usual OPSM out-of-ten score. I guess they decided that as Black Ops is the biggest game of the year they decided to give it a special scoring system. Fair enough, but lunchtime is over and I have to do some work so the magazine gets jammed in a jacket pocket and I think nothing more of it.

Later that evening I decided to read the magazine properly whilst waiting for dinner to cook. The Black-Ops feature confuses me. It’s laid out differently to a review and has gushing quotes from the games designers and those three separate scores are just odd for a…

Wait.

Backtrack. What did I just read in the top left hand corner of the page.. Feature? FEATURE?! This is a Black-Ops FEATURE and not a review? Why the hell has it got scores? Why is written like a review? Why the hell does the front of the magazine have ‘EXCLUSIVE VERDICT’ on the front?

Then it clicks.

Black-Ops is still embargoed and OPSM have not got an exclusive review, at least not in this issue. They have a preview with scores. They’ve put it on the front of the magazine and boasted about their ‘Exclusive Verdict’ to boost their sales and coax the unwitting public – including me – into buying their magazine.

What is really galling is that in the latest OPSM podcast in which they discuss this very issue they have the nerve to discuss and condemn websites that go “hit whoring” by posting sensational headlines. Pot, meet Kettle.

I feel betrayed by OPSM, a magazine that I have read and trusted for many years. Well done chaps, I will not be buying your magazine ever again and Firstplay can take a running jump too.

I’m sure you are going to claim the writing was never meant to be a review but if it’s got feathers and quacks, it’s a duck. Official Playstation Magazine has Black Ops on the cover, the words “Exclusve verdict” emblazoned on the cover of the magazine and scores for the game.

Quack.

As I mentioned earlier many sites had made exactly the same mistake as myself and read the OPSM feature as a world exclusive review. Activision PR have now contacted these sites and informed them “that the content from Official PlayStation Magazine UK in question was not a review but an extended preview ‘verdict'” and asked them to change any headlines to reflect this.

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109 Comments

  1. Shocking.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Consider me stopping as of now with FirstPlay and the odd magazine or two I picked up during the year when extremely bored.

      Bloody awful tactics, OPSM. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      • I have this mag on subscription and received it about 2 weeks ago. I had noticed this exact same thing and thought it was pretty shocking too. Guess I should’ve written into TSA and let them know! D’oh!

  2. Sometimes (and becoming ever more frequent) I think TSA is the only place you can go.

    People obviously don’t buy magazines in the volume of days gone by, and with stunts like this enticing people to buy their first copy in months/years it’s likely they’ve done more harm than good going for the quick hit.

    I have fond memories of gaming mags although I’ve not bought one for years but I’m sorry OPM, a ‘preview’ with scores is a f**k**g joke and headline on the cover is nothing short of a con and is remarkably similar to a disreputable website deliberately creating a sheitstorm to look for hits from N4G.

  3. Fail! saw your rant in the forum last night! what a waste of £5/6?. Have you sent opm a link to this? Ill do it on twitter if you want ;)

  4. I reckon the whole thing was on purpose. OPM follows the usual method of attracting sales; say on the cover that you have an exclusive on the most anticipated game of the year and people will flock to buy the mag.

    • Fine, put the game on the cover (actually if you look at the OPSM cover somehow the Black Ops guy now has a face – he’s never had one before – weird) – but do not pretend a preview is a review.

    • Yup, if it said preview it wouldn’t attract much attention on the newstands, the word verdict has been carefully chosen.

      • Exactly. “Verdict” is what was the critical factor for this.

  5. A preview with scores and a verdict? Please.

    • Now where have we heard that before.. oh yes, The Evening Standard.

  6. I used to read OPSM2 when I had the PS2 and it was great but this has ruined my opinion of them. Sure, I haven’t bought one in years and may not have in future anyway but they have heavily damaged the positive memory and view I had of them and guaranteed I don’t buy their magazine in future

  7. School boy error thinking it was a review. They fooled you into thinking you were reading a review and now they are spending your 5.99 on bird feed and quacking away in a laughing/mocking kind of way.

  8. I found this tactic particularly despicable, to the extent that I’ll be cancelling my subscription at my next opportunity. (Though I’ve looked at their site, and it’s suitably obtuse to figure out how to do so)

    • I know what you mean – I got redirected to myfavouritemagazines.co.uk (favourite? yeah, right), fought my way through the support section only to find that I’ve got to wait till next August before I’m eligible to cancel my subscription. Nine more months of that drivel. Great.

  9. Typical of the dodgy journalistic standards that have become commonplace across pretty much all forms of media nowadays.

    Thank god for common sense… and TSA.

  10. To me a verdict is different to a review. A review is looking at aspects of the game and scoring it overall based on the findings. A verdict is an opinion on the subject. A good example would be asked “What is your verdict on these tomatoes?” The question isn’t asking for a review, but of an opinion. Besides at the end of the article the Black Ops verdict is a paragraph of Leon Hurleys opinion of the game. There is no score. Yes the tech is rated 5 stars but that isn’t a review, that is just saying the game engine is very good.

    • Im pretty sure OPSM have used the word “verdict” when referring to a review before, something like “Our verdict on Resident Evil 5”. Sadly I have no back issues to check if I am correct.

      The tech is scored – but so is the Campaign (4/5) and the Multiplayer (5/5).

      • Just pulled out issue 42 of the OPSM mag from the PS2 days (January 2004) At the end of the written review is a box with the scores under the heading “VERDICT”.
        You’ve got them bang to rights TC (Manhunt got a 9/10 btw)

      • The case rests. OPSM you are deceitful ducks.

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