I thought Eidos Kane and Lynch saga was bad enough but the worst is not behind us.
Recently a German site gave Atari's latest Alone in the Dark game 68% rating and Atari accused them of playing a pirated version and told them to take it down. The site has recently replied to that accusation. Here's the link if you want to check it out
That is in German, I can't read that too. But another forum poster translated it for me (Credit to Jasede from RPGCodex)
Atari versus freedom of press
Atari truly tries everything to obscure our review and our reports and articles: first they ignore our questions we had during the early stages of Alone in the Dark, then they pull out their already booked advertising campaign after our preview, then they don't give us -despite us requesting it- a test version and now they want to take legal steps threatening us with a 50.000 sueing. What next? Will they put firecrackers into our offices and light them? Will they throw soccer balls at the wives of our editors?
It is getting more and more ridiculous: that publishers like to fight against freedom of press JoWooD already proved in the year 2006 in the Gothic 3-case: after a threatening call from them we were supposed to put our articles offline and the PC PowerPlay [A German video game magazine. German video game magazines are not as awful as American ones yet, but they're getting there.] was supposed to vanish from shops and stores by legal force. Both magazines - we and the PC PowerPlay - defended themself and thus strengthened the culture of critique in the German press media.
That publishers sometimes lose their calm when faults and shortcomings of their games are being discussed openly Atari proves now. And with their shady claims they go beyond being ridiculous. But one thing after another: yesterday afternoon [18th] we publishes our review to Alone in the Dark. The game got 68% - a satisfying result. In the evening, though, we got a fax from Atari's lawyer:
With this "Review" you are infringing on applying laws and are thus infringing on the rights of our client Atari.
Hello?! Are we in China? Or in Iran? When I read this I vomited a little into my mouth - because, as a journalist, I got to say that Atari is infringing on the rights of German gamers with their awful localisations. Are we allowed to sue them for 50.000 now too because someone is too greedy to hire competent voice actors, selling an awfully localized game for the full price?
Now to the core of their ridiculous accusation:
The so-called "review" is no such thing. The game is being released on 20th of Juni 2008. Your "review" must hence be based on the pre-release version which was only allowed to be used for the preview.
Do publishers and lawyers now decide what a test is? That some magazines can't possibly have used the release version for their test by Atari's logic because their articles were readable a lot more early than our own doesn't seem to bother Atari at all. It is, after all, quite normal in the business that the printed test is based on a not completely final version - just like with Gothic 3.
The thing is, though: our review -is- based on the release version. Atari - apparently ignorant of how their games are being published - seems to think that we can't possibly have the legal release version - after all they wisely didn't even send us that one, even though we requested it. However we're used to shady methods like that so we already ordered the Wii, PS2, Xbox 360 and PC versions last Monday by means of a store that happens to have almost all games in stock a few days before official release.
Instead Atari just guesses how we, despite it not being officially released yet, got our version and turns us into criminals right off the bat:
The only explanation is that your "review" is based on a pirated, illegally downloaded version.
This is not only naive, it is also insulting. And it gets better:
At the same time you ignore the standards one has to maintain when writing a review. A review always has to be based on objective and well-informed research.
So well-informed is everything that's more than 80%? And objective starts at 85%?
Due to the infringements you are gaining an illegitimate jump on other, honest-working gaming magazines. The so-called "review" obviously has been written in such a way as to publish the first review in Germany and, by the perceived exclusivity of that, generate especially many readers and sales.
Here we all had to laugh heartily - our boss, our marketing guys, our janitor and even our pets. Are the men from Atari really that blind that they don't notice that other magazines already reviewed this game before we did? And are they aware that you don't earn a damn penny by clicking a link to a review? Doesn't really matter to us anyway: we don't want to be online with our reviews before release so we earn more money but so that our readers are informed about the quality of a game in time.
Let us summarize it: we are supposed to put the review off the net by 2 PM today, delete the screenshots and sign a cease and desist order which allows no deadline because of the "gravity of our infringements".
Hey Atari? Fuck you!
PS: Atari, after our preview that had the result of "satisfying" [C in school grades], pulled back their ad-campaign they ordered in our magazine. They are allowed to do that, of course, but other publishers handles situations like this more professionally - like thos who accept our review-results, like Ubisoft - they kept advertising Haze despite our 66% review.
PPS: Not just we are being pestered by absurd accusations. By now, two Norwegian magazines report similar attacks from Atari - read more about that in our News sections. According to Shacknews, a website from Holland also was urged to remove their review.
***Update 21st of Juni 2008: Atari trying to deescalate? Saturday, Atari wrote a press-statement at DerWesten.de which we commentated. [link to the statement, the comment; further link to an interview with the Chief Editor of this article and DerWesten.de]