Salute!

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Hello, I’m Todd Hargosh, but you can call me The General. I’ll be writing about the hardcore side of gaming each week, opposite GiN Playmate Chella. So every other week you can check in and read my battle plans. You won’t always agree with what I have to say, unless of course you are a hardcore gamer too. But I will always shoot straight with you, and you know that when I say something, I mean it. So watch out toes, cause there is going to be some squishing going on.

Ok, onward to the first Battle Plans.

You know, one of the best things about writing for Game Industry News is being able to access information about the latest titles. Most of the time I get my information from the game companies themselves. Sad to say though, this is not a luxury that many people have. As a result, most people have to check out Web sites to find out more about a specific game they want to pick up, whether it is worth playing, or should be put alongside MK Advance in the town dump.

I admit that I am a regular visitor to videogames.com, IGN.com, as well as many other online gaming sites besides GiN. Though I am a critic for GiN, I still want to know what others’ opinions are about certain upcoming titles, and reviews are what I look at first. But a frightening trend is starting to emerge from the shadows, and it can only be summed up in three words"

ONLY ON INSIDER!

Those terrifying words are starting to become a regular sight on IGN. It originally was used to provide access to exclusive video clips and screenshots, but these days the Berlin Wall of pay-per-downloads is popping up on services what many other sites, including this magnificent site that I write for, consider basic: news flashes, trade show footage, and of all things"REVIEWS!

Now I can understand if IGN required a payment to look at exclusive videos or any other special feature like other sites do (such as Videogames.com with their Download Express or GameWeb’s GamerWeb*Net service), but forcing people to pay a fee to look at simple reviews is downright stupid. What does IGN stand for anyway? Insanely Greedy Network?

Granted, IGN has had some financial trouble in the last year. They had to shut down their impressive wrestling news service, and they also had to resort to annoying pop-up advertisements, but this "give us $5 or you don’t get your review" mentality is absurd.

Can you imagine what would happen if other sites, gaming or non-gaming, took this aspect? What would happen if there was no such thing as television? How would we get our news? Can you imagine CNN with a headline saying "Bin Laden subjected to public execution"Please pay $5 to read more!" Or could you imagine Roger Ebert requiring a $5 fee to read all his classic movie reviews? Or even worse, the White House forcing readers to pay to hear a stream of a press conference that President Bush might give? It’s a scary thought, but then again, we live in a world of greed.

After all, this is the same level of greed that caused a baseball strike that cancelled a World Series, the same greed which caused Sega to knife Dreamcast owners in the back, and the same greed that caused Metallica to turn on their fans. And now, the green eyed monster of greed has attacked the video game Websites that we read on a daily basis.

As I said earlier, I can understand what IGN, and their parent company Snowball, are trying to do. They need money to survive, as do all sites (hell, even GiN has to get ads to provide for our future), but we don’t have to resort to "pay or else" tactics in the same way IGN does. What information IGN hides I can easily obtain from Videogames.com, Gamers.com, or Gameindustry.com.

And as for the reviews, I can access the same sites, but if I do need to see whatever score IGN gives a title which they hide behind Insider, my friends at gamerankings.com list IGN’s scores on their website, as well as ours, while providing an easy link to access us.

I don’t want to have this commentary declared as an open attack against IGN, but if they are going to continue to FORCE their readers to pay money for reading even the most rudimentary of news that can be obtained from more reliable sources, then maybe it is about time that someone’s opinion, even if it’s from a rival site like GiN, to say something. Hey, why don’t you come over to us for your information seeing as we are free. Or maybe just an all out boycott against IGN would be in order!

I want to send a final message to Snowball/IGN. The way this Insider-only crap is going, if you are planning on making the ENTIRE site as Insider-only, then you will LOSE all your readers. We respect our readers, and would never make them pay for content that we generate for their benefit. Don’t say I didn’t warn you IGN. And when your site fails, don’t even think of sending us a resume! You’ve been warned!

I know it’s kind of strange to start our my bi-weekly hardcore column by bashing another site, but sometimes issues pop up and you just have to go for it. Tune in every other week to keep up on what it’s like being a hardcore gamer. Sometimes people think we gamers are over the top, but I think it’s everyone else who has a problem!

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