Many of us may still be enjoying DOOM (personally, I really love what Bethesda have done with the single player aspect), but like many gamers, I was forced to pre-order blind, due to no early reviews of the game. This was due to the dreaded ‘game embargo’.

What is a game embargo?

This is a restriction placed upon critics, to prevent them from publishing a games review, before its official launch. This restriction was first put in place to protect the hype and let the marketing machine shift pre-orders. Look at it this way – If the hype is there (usually created from a remake or long-awaited sequel), the only thing an early review can do…is damage that hype.


Assassin’s Creed: Unity took advantage of the embargo restriction. As an ex-tester, I have no idea how the game was able to be released in such an awful state

Of course, that’s what the publishers think. But today, gamers aren’t stupid and know that a game embargo usually means that something is wrong and not quite finished with the product. This could be anything from bugs to weak single or multiplayer elements.

Should the game embargo be banned?

Publishers are now arguing that the game embargo will allow for online multiplayer to be tweaked before the games release. They’ll also say that online games and servers will be hard to truly test before release day. But is that really true?

For the game Embargo

– Benefits those who do not wish to read any reviews before playing
– Will allow critics to play multiplayer games with full servers

Against Embargo

– Will force developers to release clean, bug-free games
– Developers will strive harder to create games they’ll be truly proud of, generating earned pre-orders
– Will give gamers peace of mind when laying down their cash for pre-orders
– If a game does have single player and multiplayer elements, this may convince publishers to allow critics to review the single player portion, before release. The publisher can then allow critics to review multiplayer, once the release date has passed.

The latter would work perfectly with our double scoring idea. To read more on that, check out Are SP+MP Games Being Reviewed Fairly?

I do have to point out that online multiplayer reviewing can actually work in favour of the developer/publisher, without the embargo. This is because servers won’t be packed solid, potentially ruining a reviewers experience. All the gameplay elements should be fully available to that reviewer, and they can easily arrange other colleagues to join-in and emulate the multiplayer experience. Sounds like more of a positive, right?

Whether you’re for or against, the argument can always be made, that gamers (the customer) have the right to read such reviews before making a purchase. Games aren’t getting any cheaper and with price tags ranging from £30-60 (especially digital releases), it isn’t just the ‘hype’ that needs protecting…it’s the customers, too.