Bethesda the other day posted on their blog that review copies for all upcoming games will not be sent to media outlets until the day before release.
Stating that this policy is something they put into effect starting with this year’s DOOM, where review copies weren’t sent out until the day before the general release. During that time, Bethesda stated the reasoning for that was DOOM’s online components.
So this policy will continue with the upcoming release of Dishonored 2 and Skyrim: Special Edition, which are notably both single-player only games. The reasoning for DOOM made sense somewhat, but considering these two games have no online component, it doesn’t make complete sense why they would withhold review copies.
Bethesda now states that the reason this policy will continue is, “we want everyone, including those in the media, to experience our games at the same time”.
They are making this out like it will benefit everyone from this decision, but in reality, it only benefits one party. Critics will now feel rushed in trying to get a review out since they only have the game one day early instead of upwards to a week or two early. On the consumer side of things, they’ll have less information on the game and how it preforms. Bethesda is the only one who seems to benefit from this. This policy will grant them more control over what people see and hear about the game prior to release, with less gameplay being shown off and early game impressions.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Bethesda. While you shouldn’t 100% rely on reviews to decide if you want to purchase a game or not, reviews play a good part in helping people decide if a game is worth picking up right away or waiting for a price drop.