The latest scandal to rock the gaming sphere involves a Content Creator and an offer of $7,500 for a review.

I’m going to be dropping several reviews in the coming days/weeks. Full disclosure: I HAVE NOT been paid for any reviews ever. I have been sent review materials and allowed access to PDFs in order to write reviews. I love and respect anyone who does this, but I don’t give biased reviews based on free stuff. Recently, a YouTuber named Quackalope has been embroiled in a scandal involving paid, favorable, biased reviews of a Kickstarter product.

I know I’ve been dinged on my lack of journalistic integrity in the past by a certain Content Creator who we shan’t name drop ever again. But rest assured, I do still adhere to certain journalistic ethics principles and laws when it comes to writing my blog. And because I’m a small Internet blog, not a major mass media publication with an editor, I can get away with a lot more. That, and I “edit” all my own material, so, umm, I’m a big softie when it comes to criticism. (Ask anyone who knew me 20 years ago in JMC school.)

I draw the line at paid reviews. Yes, I would love to pick up a sponsor or two someday, especially if I do YouTube. If a sponsor or anyone offering access to product for review, I’m going to tell them what I think needs to be done differently right along with what I loved about it. It’s not valid criticism or praise if it’s completely biased in favor of the product’s creator if money and physical goods were exchanged for the review. If someone is paying for a positive review, that’s an advertisement.

I don’t think anyone who takes their credibility as a reviewer seriously would take money in exchange for a positively biased review. Again, this is not a slight against Content Creators for D&D who were mailed large packages of goodies. It’s pretty obvious that most were not swayed or bribed into glowing reviews following the April Wizards of the Coast D&D Content Creators Summit. I was concerned that it could happen, but I’m really glad it didn’t.

Poor Renegade Studios found out what happened when I didn’t like the GM Section of Power Rangers. However, they have since corrected their mistakes in the Power Rangers RPG in an upcoming book. I’m literally waiting by my mailbox every day for it to come. The PDF is awesome! (Lol, but I’m a consumer of their products, too. No, I’m not so arrogant to believe I had any influence on their decision to make this new book beyond repeatedly voicing my opinion on here and to them via their website.) I wish more game companies would listen as closely to fans’ concerns. At any rate, I’m super glad they turned it around.

Who doesn’t love free stuff, or money for that matter?

Yeah, send me a box of free TTRPG books any day of the week. Woohoo! Please don’t ask me to drop nothing but glowing reviews of products if that’s why you’re doing it, though. If I think something is poor quality for the money, I will say something. Also, I don’t want the Pinkertons coming to my house to “recollect” any product that was released too soon. Just sayin…

Would I turn down $7,500 to say nice things about a product in my blog or on camera? (*Or both for that kind of money.) I would be clear up front that my own education and experience in advertising is limited. It’s a sponsored promotion, not a review. Here’s how the game works. Really, it’s the same as the game demos we used to do at Games By James back in the day. We didn’t necessarily like all of those products, but we did have to sell all of that stuff. An unbiased review would never come from my selling the product, however.

I would certainly never approach a game company and ask for money in exchange for a good review. That’s just… sleezy. It’s also very similar to extortion. I think it would be a terrible practice to say, “Give me money or I’m going to blast bad reviews of your product everywhere.”

I mean, who does that? Maybe a bad review won’t make or break a small company, but it could put a dent in crowdfunding sales, which in turn a successful campaign into an unfunded one. That’s not a good position to put a game company in, and they shouldn’t have to kowtow to the demands of unscrupulous reviewers that way.

If you’re still here, thank you! Twitter recently changed things so we can no longer automatically upload directly to that platform whenever we post. That funnel has effectively been cut off. I appreciate your sticking with me if you’re still here.