Video Game Journalism: What’s an Embargo?

All, Business & Industry, Gaming

After receiving some game keys with an an embargo placed on them, it occurred to me that not everyone is as ‘savvy’ as I am. Many people don’t know what an embargo is or that they need to respect it. So today we’ll be taking a look at what they are and why you must work according to it.

What is an Embargo?

This is a word that gets used a lot in games media but no one really explains what they are, especially when you’re new to the field. As a result, it’s easy to ignore the warnings and go ahead with publishing the content ahead of the time you’ve been given. Doing this a big no go however.

An Embargo in the press means that information or a news source cannot be published before a certain date and time. However, there are occasions where certain conditions are set instead (this rarely happens in gaming so don’t worry too much about this).

They’re often used to prevent information being released too early. For example, if you’re a game developer you’d want to build hype about your game close to the game release when the final version of the game is ready. If you gave out codes early for an older build and someone writes a review on that build then they’re not giving a good representation of the game. In short, it will not help your sales.

In fact, if we’re talking about an older build then it could have a lot of issues in it. There could be bugs, glitches or mechanics problems which are not in the final product. If your game is given a bad score due to those problems then your sales will suffer because someone decided to review an early build of the game and (wrongly) label it as the completed product.


What happens if I don’t abide by an Embargo?

Shame on you if you did it on purpose! If it was an accident and you didn’t know any better then it’s still not great as you should have asked the developers what it meant or researched it yourself.


Breaking Embargos and NDA’s typically result in one response: The developer will blacklist you. They will no longer provide you with any review codes and will not support you. So you should never expect to see any support or response from this developer again. And rightly so, if they can’t trust you to abide by one simple rule then why should they give you their product to test in the first place?

In more sever cases, you may have a developer or publisher pursue legal action against you. Especially if you signed an agreement first (that’s why you need to sign NDA’s, so if you breech it you accept the consequences).


Just remember to follow the Embargo rules and everything will be fine. It’s only polite afterall and it’s good ethics to do this also. Plus, it’s a good way to build a strong relationship with a developer or publisher. There’s no need to panic or stress about it. The first few might be a little stressful but you’ll quickly get the hang of how they work.


This post was provided by Clare from Lunawolf Gaming

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