Earlier this week I made an article about a reviewer from The Examiner who spoiler the ending of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. In the article I said he behaved unprofessionally towards comments, that the spoiler was out in the open, and that the article had since been taken down. In order to get the full story I inquired Mr. Santos to do an interview with me and give his side of the story. He did and we talked about the situation. So, if you are a fan of MGS who’s game may have been ruined, a person who saw the article and his comments, or a person generally interested in the story, here is Santos’ side:
Luis Santos interview:
So, how long have you worked for The Examiner posting reviews and other game related articles?
I’ve been writing for examiner, for close to 3 years now. In that time I have provided about 50 articles, some reviews but mostly news related.
Did you have any other experience before The Examiner? If so, how long overall have you been in this field?
I’ve been writing for about ten years creatively, no. I did not have prior experience writing pieces concerning the video game industry before Examiner. However, I felt that I was more than qualified given the fact that I’ve been a life long gamer.
Alright fair enough and that is a good number of articles to post in that amount of time. That’s also great to hear and nice to know a little background story about yourself. The Examiner clearly thought you were qualified as well otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting where you are. Alright lets move on to a question that is standing out to the viewers of your article
Are you a fan of the Metal Gear series? If so when did you start playing the series?
I am a big of the MGS series, the first time I got around the MGS games was in 2004. With the release of Snake Eater for the PlayStation 2, one of the best games I ever played. Snake Eater took me on an emotional ride, the only other game to do since Zelda: Ocarina Of Time.
That’s good to hear that they gave a fan of the series the review job. This puts in to context for the viewers and should help them realize that you weren’t just some guy reviewing this series. You’re actually a man who has loved it for some time and even though it may have not been since the start it has been for about 10 years which is respectable.
So, you’re a long time fan of this series, do you think some of your frustration showed in the article was disappointment as a fan or was it more as an overall reviewer?
My frustration generally stemmed from being a fan, and being incredibly let down by Ground Zeroes. I do believe the fact that I finished the game in such a short amount of time clouded my reasoning and in some ways my professionalism took a backseat because of it. The demo is nothing short of stunning, the graphics and gameplay are on another level. I do believe I stated that much on my review, I didn’t delve deeper into it and I guess that is where much of the conflict arises with people who read my article.
I can see that and something most people don’t understand about reviewers is that it is technically part of your job to try to finish the game as fast as you can. You’re supposed to go through the main story and try the features after the fact usually. I can also understand this frustration as I’ve dug deep down in to hype before. I actually wrote an article about the dangers of excessive hype put out by companies recently and as you I have experienced this feeling before. I unlike you, was not in a position of power to say anything about it.
As we saw a good amount of heat came from the spoiler itself as well. I’d imagine it was the number one reason your article was taken down. I’m the type of person who believes spoilers don’t belong in reviews, but I have read my fair share of reviews with spoilers that were well written as well. As I read through your article I thought it was well written and pieced together properly. All except for the spoiler which I felt was too far out in the open and easy for fans to accidentally stumble upon.
Are there any steps you’re going to take in your upcoming reviews to prevent it? Some websites have text blacked out specifically set so people do not have the game spoiled for them. Does your site provide that and did you accidentally skip over it or is it an absent feature?
I definitely feel I could have handled the spoiler subject in a more professional manner. I don’t think this a situation of what I could do differently next time, rather than this just being the result of a bad judgment call. The Examiner site has tools to prevent such thing as to protect readers from spoilers. I take full responsibility in not using the tools appropriately when needed to, which was a lapse on my part.
As we saw your review was taken down. Did you face any other consequences from your employer? If so, then what? Also were there any protocols skipped over? Some sites make the editors go through important pieces like your review and usually have to get confirmation from a superior before posting.
The only penalty I faced was having my review pulled from the site, and it was the worst thing that could happen to me. I finance my own reviews, I spent many times over the asking retail price of Ground Zeroes to acquire it ahead of time. My intentions were to review the product based on its merit and in large part I believe that’s what I did.
I submitted my work and it was green-lit by management, about a day later. I received an email stating that my review was being pulled from the site because of “Glaring Issues” the site manager placed the blame on the article’s title citing improper grammar. We exchanged various emails concerning the issue, the manager basically resolved the matter by using whatever political play he saw fit to justify his actions.
I go on the Examiner page later on that day and see a revised review on MGS: Ground Zeroes posted by the same manager/editor who decided to pull mine from the site. His take is very interesting, he goes on great lengths to play up the very little upside Ground Zeroes has to offer. It was probably his attempt at damage control after the fallout of criticism my article received. However, I do believe he caused further damage by not standing by the consumer.
Gaming consumers are already spending close to $100 for software on average when you consider adding the cost of DLC. Packaging a demo and placing a premium price on it, should be the straw that breaks the Camel’s back. No one should have to spend top dollar on an unfinished product, it’s unacceptable and highly unethical. It’s spineless to me that a company as reputable as Konami, would prey on their loyal consumers; especially with such a highly praised IP like MGS franchise.
Yeah, I get that, you put your own effort and time in to the actual review and it was quickly taken down instead of being revised. The review could have been stretched out a bit more, but you’ve already addressed this issue. Alright so now we see a bigger problem as well. Which is the fact that the management approved it even after you missed the spoiler. Bringing the question another in to play:
Did he actually read the article before posting it up? It may have been a lapse on your behalf and you could have taken steps to prevent it, but your management team overall should have been able to catch it.
I’m not in a position to say what exactly happened over at Examiner internally. I can only confirm the review was approved before it was pulled the next day.
Alright and before we move on let me just add that as DLC comes more and more overwhelmingly popular I can understand that. More and more games are coming out and adding DLC and season passes all the time and most of the time they aren’t exactly worth it. We can talk about that on a completely different subject, but an example I’m going to throw out there is Bioshock Infinite for taking so long and Dead Rising 3’s $30 pass for about 8 hours of gameplay and overall uninteresting writing making it not feel like the money was well spent. Granted, that the two examples gave us interesting stories, lengthy play times (Compared to Ground Zeroes), and they are full fledged games.
So then you genuinely felt as if Ground Zeroes was a scam? Which is a heavy word to throw out there to be fair. My point being that the article was 100% legitimately what you believe, but would you change your approach to it if you had to do it all over again?
It is a cash grab, and calling it a scam is not as slanderous as some people may make it out to be. If you look at some of the other reviews out now, many other sites are echoing similar sentiments over Ground Zeroes. I just read an article from Forbes.com, stating the game was beat in a mere ten minutes.
I would’ve taken a more methodical approach if given the chance to do it again. Being a fan of the series worked against me, and it showed on the review I produced.
I can see that as a valid opinion for someone like yourself and while I am not a Metal Gear fan myself I can see your concern with how the game was made. I believe Kojima said it was supposed to hold people over until the official release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain which is rumored to be released early 2015. With this experience being so unpleasant for you, do you you wish the company would have just saved it and added this as the actual prologue in The Phantom Pain?
Do you have anything to say to the people who read your article and are currently attacking you?
I am going stand by my review, I do regret the game spoilers were so out in the open. I’ve received much hate mail and criticism over the last couple of days, over the review. At the same time I’ve received support from people who saw Ground Zeroes in the same light as I did, especially now that the demo is out for the public to purchase. This is America, people have the right to agree or disagree with an opinion; I simply take it in stride.
I’m happy that even with everyone attacking you that you haven’t changed your opinion. In my actual about hype I also told the viewers that they really need to stick to reviewers who share their same opinions and values. As we saw there are some people who have done that with you and then some people who seemed mad about the accusation that the game itself was more of a cash grab than something they worked hard on and was meaningful. i hope those people who share similar opinions follow you more closely and those who didn’t follow a different reviewer who shares their opinions on the game. I want to note that it seems like a majority of the hate seems to be due to the spoiler itself as well as your attitude in the comments.
Overall though I am happy that you decided to do this interview which I feel will give your review more context overall. I hope the hate mail stops and I hope that the next installation of the series feels more worthy to you.
The review was your opinion and I’m happy you are sticking by it and happy that one of the bigger issues in it is something you plan on not having happen again. It has been really enjoyable getting your side of the story and I hope viewers feel the same way.
One of the bigger issues here being that the spoiler was so far out in the open. While I feel as if Luis does share some blame, the management team should share blame as well. The review he posted was submitted and had to wait to go through approval as he stated earlier in the interview. Meaning that he isn’t the sole person to blame for the incident. Aside from that issue there was the issue of the review itself which some people were unhappy about as Luis gave the game a 1/5 stars and called it a scam. If you did enjoy his review as some viewers have then I encourage you to follow Luis Santos’ work and keep up with him because you share similar tastes obviously. If you did not then I would recommend that you find a new a reviewer to check out.
One of the biggest issues with people going to reviews and being unsatisfied is because the person reviewing the game does not share the same taste as you. I touched up on this in my first article I wrote for the site a bit at the end. Find a review you personally agree with from a person who shares your beliefs, your interests, and has a similar opinion to you. While some times you may not agree with him it will help you overall and give you a better experience than just clicking on random reviews just because it is a game you’re interested in and do not send hate mail because you don’t agree with him. I can understand the mail about the spoiler, but those aren’t the only people sending him the hate mail. I think if you take your time to do this you will find that you will have a better experience overall when you read reviews.