IGNEntertainment is an exceptionally large entertainment publication, owning websites like Rotten Tomatoes, GameSpy, GameStats, AskMen, and of course IGN.com. IGN has several dozen fansites with in IGN, such as City of Heroes Vault, Grand Theft Auto ‘Hood and Super Smash Brothers World, all of which have a particularly obvious focus. A recent fansite, named Music Hub, has attracted quite a bit attention and criticism.
Now IGN has a section for Music, simply called IGN Music. So what is the point of Music Hub then? Well it’s a fansite for music games, or more specifically Activision’s music games. The entire section of Music Hub is focused on games with in ActivisionBlizzard’s Hero series, such as Guitar Hero, Band Hero and DJ hero. Anything else that does not fall with in the Hero series does not get reported on in the Music Hub.
The reason why this has become controversial is because of the labeling and presentation of the section. The Music Hub header reads as “Music Hub presents:” followed by logos from the aforementioned games with in the hero series. No place on the header, or even the section does it say it’s an advertisement, but a section distinctly called “Music Hub” that does not discuss all games with in the ever expanding music game genre raises some questions.
The most pressing question would have relate to IGN’s journalistic integrity. This entire situation, rather surprisingly, started on a day in which news on the FTC’s new policy regards to endorsements broke. Online blogs and publications are subject to fines now if they do not disclose any “cash or in-kind payment” for reviews. Now the section hardly focuses exclusively on reviews for anyone of the games, but the timing is uncanny.
A major point for this issue comes from one last continue that criticizes the site for a lack of transparency. If the site is not an advertisement paid for by Activision, then it’s not clear, largely due to the name which focuses Music on a whole rather than the Hero series.
Another issue he brings up is the lack of any clarity on Music Hub being a fansite. The other fansites with in IGN’s network clearly show the IGNVault logo and links to the Vault Hub with in the header, while the Music Hub lacks any mention of the Vault until you reach the footer, which is featured on every page on IGN.
IGN released two responses into the controversy. One made on the Music Hub’s Twitter redirects readers to other parts of IGN to find information on Rock Band and other music games that don’t fall under Music Hub’s area of expertise. The other seems slightly more snide, and is much longer:
The author of that article seems to be lacking something pretty important, knowledge. So I wanted to set you guys straight as your article is very misleading and full of holes.
Music Hub is a Community Site (AKA fan site) for only the “Hero” games. Another example of one of our Community Sites would be GTA ‘Hood (http://gta.ign.com/), that only covers the “GTA” series. We have about 55 other such sites that cover specific games and/or series. So I guess the author was sort of right that we are catering to only the “Hero” games, but not in the sense he was attempting to imply. Just like a community site for Super Mario would not cover Donky Kong games. So I find it hard to believe the author has never heard of a fan site before. It also seems he didnt even attempt to investigate that we have been running fan site for over 14 years, via the Planet and Vault Networks. Each site is run by actual fans of the game from the community. Music Hub is no different.
Though to be fair to the author, our name choice for this site might not have been the best one and it may have helped confuse the guy who wrote that article.
Here are the main hubs for the networks, you can find links to all our community sites.
Interesting side note you may not have been aware of. GameSpy.com actually spawned from a fan site, Planet Quake, back in 1996. Thats where it all got started and it was GameSpy’s first site… before being known as “GameSpy”, and well before merging with IGN. You can learn a bit more by going here – http://ten.ign.com/
I ask that you rethink that article and rethink keeping it published in its current state. Because you are actually attacking all fans sites across the internet, and thats not cool. It also make gives the impression you do not investigate facts that you publish.
To me it would seem one of two things happened in regards to the sight. The insinuation that IGN has taken some sort of bribe, be it cash or otherwise, for a section intent on advertising ActivisionBlizzard’s games in the form of a community site is true. The other is that there was a massive oversight on IGN’s part, resulting in an incredible misleading section of their website as due to MusicHub being rushed.
One seems to scream of conspiracy and poor journalistic integrity. The other begs the question of why this is brought up now, and why the oversight of the deceitful name hasn’t been changed since the site went live in late August? I don’t quite expect, if the former is true, for complete clarity on IGN’s part, but I certainly would hope that some changes are made if this is just a misunderstanding as a result of poor labeling.
Don’t Ask About Rock Band On IGN’s Music Hub – UPDATE [One Last Continue]
Shawn Elliott’s twitter, former CGW editor and current producer for 2K Boston
Music Hub, the fansite that started the whole hubbub