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Square Enix PR Faces Gamer Wrath for Overreaching Embargo Attempt
game: Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria
posted by: Aaron Stanton
developer: Square Enix
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date posted: 01:58 PM Mon Jun 26th, 2006
last revision: 06:35 PM Mon Jun 26th, 2006

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Click to read.1Up.com editor Luke Smith recently made headlines when he posted an e-mail from Square Enix PR about what information members of the media were supposed to publish or not publish regarding Valkyrie Profile 2. The e-mail, sent after the Japanese release of the title, instructed the press not to publish any details of certain plot elements, characters, and cutscenes.

The e-mail prompted Smith to post a public response on 1Up.com, calling attention to Square Enix\'s fairly obvious blunder, that it\'s impossible to embargo public information. In his blog, Smith reminded Square Enix that members of the media can\'t be expected to embargo information they acquired from public sources, such as buying a copy of the game themselves and writing about what they find.

The posting prompted a response from Square Enix requesting the blog post be removed on grounds of privacy. Smith rightfully refused, marking the second time in the last eight months when 1Up has taken publicly to the journalistic high road. In November of last year, 1Up\'s John Davison walked out on the recording of a TV talk show that had obviously set him up as the fall guy for their violent video game agenda, one of the gutsiest moves I\'ve ever seen.

1Up.com is quickly becoming one of our favorite mega-outlets in the industry with a string of respectable moves.

The publication of the e-mail has left Square Enix in the cross hairs of the public forums, which seem to be filled with people harboring a near hatred of the Public Relations industry.

However, it\'s important to keep Square Enix\'s request in perspective. While the wording of the embargo request was poor, much of what they\'re asking shouldn\'t necessarily anger the average gamer. While we in the media generally dislike being told what we can and can\'t write about, Square\'s plea that we avoid publishing spoilers is fairly reasonable. Likewise, requesting that publications refrain from posting copyrighted material, such as recordings of the music, is well within Square\'s rights. It is, after all, good to remember that fundamentally press embargoes are a courtesy that\'s offered to the press by the publisher, not the other way around. Press embargoes give media outlets time to prepare coverage of large events without having to rush production; publishers give us a head-start on sensitive information in order to allow us measured coverage. If it were not for press embargoes, many of the major media outlets would have a tough time producing those pretty graphics to go along with their material, and the print magazine would virtually be out of the loop.

You wouldn\'t see anything about E3 in PC Gamer or VGM, for example, until the month after it was finished, a fairly good argument against relying solely on print magazines for your news, anyways.

The problem, of course, is that Square Enix can\'t embargo any information that they don\'t provide themselves. Square Enix made a mistake when they sent the embargo request to the media, and 1Up.com was right to call them for it.

However, I\'m not entirely sure that Square deserves the massive verbal lashing they\'ve been receiving in the public forums. Perhaps it\'d be better to just slap them on the wrist and remind them that, like Sony, arrogance doesn\'t become any of us.

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