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How the FTC Mandates Game Reviews

Posted on Wednesday, November 9 @ 15:13:26 PST by

If you've noticed, we've made some changes in the way we present our reviews to you dear readers. There was a time when we'd write our review text and slap a report card at the bottom. These days, we've been informing you about exactly which platform we played the game on and whether the publisher sent us a copy or if we bought it ourselves.

Today, we received our review copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 from Activision. Included in the box, however, was a statement of guidelines provided by the FTC.

The Federal Trade Comission regulates the way corporations and consumers interact. In particular, the FTC looks out for consumers in light of the massive corporations that make up a large part of the way our society works together. The FTC has decided that game reviewers need to be reminded of their duty to the readers.

The statement reads:
Please be aware that by accepting items of value from Activision (including free review copies of games, and/or payment by Activision of travel, lodging, or other expenses) and writing about Activision's products and services, you may be subject to the FTC's Endorsement Guides. Among other things, the FTC Endorsement Guides require that:


  • You clearly and conspicuously disclose in your reviews and posts that Activision has provided you with items of value, and
  • Your reviews and posts be truthful and accurate. Note, you can't talk about your experience with a product if you haven't used it.
The notice even goes so far as to include suggestions as to how to inform you dear readers of these interactions between journalist and publisher.
Depending on your particular circumstances, according to the requirements of the Guides, examples of disclosures could include the following:


  • BLog or website disclosure of: "Activision gave me this game to try", "Activision sent me a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to try , or "Activision paid my travel expenses so I could attend their review event and get my hands on the new Call of Duty game."
I don't know if we should feel flattered that the FTC feels it necessary to directly address video game journalists or if I should feel insulted that they feel the need to remind us of our dedication and responsibility to readers.

We're very up front with you readers about the way publishers provide opportunities to us in the promotion of their games. Rest assured that trips in airplanes (I've flown in an airplane before, thank you very much), free games (I've paid for many games I've reviewed), and hotel stays during gaming events (you won't bribe me with those tiny shampoos!) won't sway our opinions on games.

Those provisions WILL NEVER affect the way we deliver verdicts on the games you read about on GameRevolution. We're gamers too. We would never mislead you into spending your money on games that weren't worth it.

In fact, as Anthony pointed out recently, there have been many instances where we've been without a review copy of a game, mostly thanks to our harder-slanting Metacritic average. We don't go out of our way to grade games harder than other outlets, but one thing will stay true moving forward:

We hold you readers in the highest regard and will continue to deliver the most honest, straight-forward game reviews... whether the FTC reminds us to or not.
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