We’ve all received a game for review before that comes with an embargo. For those who don’t know what this means, it is actually quite simple. The publisher/developer dictate a specific date which you, the reviewer, is not allowed to publish your review before. In other words, it is a restriction upon when you can share your review with the world. Typically this date will be some time close to the release date of a game, say a week before release.
Review embargo dates can be explained by a number of reasons, sometimes the publisher wants to make sure their game is played to the fullest. However, most of the time there are bigger websites which shall remain nameless who are given a special pass beyond this embargo date and it simply does not apply to them. This is not a good thing for the end-user who is usually going to end up being lied to due to the vast restriction other websites have on expressing their feelings on a game until this seemingly random date comes up.
In the case of ambitious online shooter All Points Bulletin (which is loosely classified as an MMO) there has been an embargo set for 10 days after the release of the title. According to the publisher this is to ensure that the game is reviewed properly, which they are estimating would take around 50 hours. Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, this is the amount of hours you would be able to play before having to put more money into the game using the Real-Time Worlds points that the game runs on after the initial 50 hours.
While I would like to hope that the purpose of this embargo date is truly to provide enough time for high quality reviews to be written and the game to be evaluated properly, I can’t help but feel this could have been accomplished by simply sending the review copies out 10 days early rather than releasing the game with no reviews written. Now this news seems to beg the question, will this embargo date apply to every reviewer, or only some? Only time will tell if this is truly for the better of the gamer or will just end up providing an unfair advantage meant to hype and advertise the game a certain way.