Atari is reportedly suing game review website 4player after it published a review of its latest Alone in the Dark game without permission.
As the site did not receive a copy of the game from the publisher, Atari believes 4player obtained it illegally and seeks undisclosed restitution. 4players says the game was legally leaked to it from a retailer. It awarded AiTD 68 percent, a grim total on the industry standard "7 to 9" rating scale used by gaming journalists.
There is a pinch of salt element at hand: 4player's denunciation of Atari has all the accouterments of a standard-issue internet drama play. Fidgit's Tom Chick describes it as "a website with a sense of entitlement instead of an early review copy."
If its version of events is true, however, it's the latest example of publishers' increasingly aggressive attempts to determine how the gaming press covers its products. In the run up to the release of its latest blockbuster, Konami presented reviewers with early-access contracts that told them not to report certain aspects of the game – after they'd already given them access. Late last year, Gamespot fired longtime staffer Jeff Gerstmann after he panned Kane and Lynch, whose publisher had paid for a site-wide advertising campaign at the site.
It's not limited to gaming, either: Websites covering rock mainstays Metallica were ordered to pull reviews of their latest songs. Wired asked one editor why they comply, and the answer was direct and to the point: because his writers were in danger of losing access.