This week, Polygon declined an invitation from Electronic Arts to attend a Star Wars Battlefront review event.
You can play all of Star Wars Battlefront right now on Xbox One, thanks to EA's pretty cool Access program. The entire game is there for subscribers for 10 hours. That's a good amount of time! But if Polygon had attended the review event for the game earlier this week, we wouldn't be allowed to run a review for the game until launch day. We did not accept those terms as presented to us last week.
Let us explain.
EA hosted a "Review Event" this week at its Redwood Shores, California, location for Star Wars Battlefront that allowed around 12-14 hours with the game in controlled conditions — the latter, we'll note, is normal. This coverage came with a pair of embargoes: preview coverage without a review score/conclusion was allowed to run as of this morning. However, all review coverage of Battlefront is embargoed. We were informed last week that review coverage would not be allowed to run until launch day, and the final embargo from the event stipulates a publish time of 9 p.m. PT on Monday, Nov. 16.
"No reviews until launch day, despite the game's availability in EA Access five days prior to that. This is absurd."
Meanwhile, today, five days before launch, the entire game is on EA Access. In other words, any Xbox One owner willing to pay five dollars can play 10 hours of Star Wars Battlefront. All of it. The whole game. The entire game is online and available now, and reviewers aren't allowed to post their conclusions about the game for five days.
This is not the first time EA has structured review coverage around these kinds of restrictions. There was an identical scenario outlined and executed for Need for Speed last month, and we declined an invitation to the event in question as well as the Xbox One download codes EA offered under the same restrictions — no reviews until launch day, despite the game's availability on EA Access five days prior to that.
This is absurd. We know it, and we believe EA knows it as well. EA has run Access long enough to plan around it, and has repeatedly demonstrated as much. Over the last year, we've reviewed Dragon Age: Inquisition, Battlefield Hardline, Madden NFL 16 and FIFA 16, each of which had its full multiplayer component available on EA Access. EA scheduled review sessions, access and embargoes for those games around that reality. With Madden and FIFA specifically, review code went out approximately two weeks in advance, and review embargoes were timed with each title's EA Access launch.
Review events are a reality of the industry, and in the case of multiplayer-oriented titles, they make sense — it's very difficult to organize 20-40 people in different locations remotely at the same time, and we introduced provisional reviews this year to account for server uncertainty. We've attended review events this year when it made sense to do so, including events for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain and even Battlefield Hardline.
But we will not participate in review events that tie our hands in ways that restrict us well after the general public has full access to the game in question. With that in mind, we'll be playing the full version of Star Wars Battlefront on EA Access this week, along with many of you, without support from EA. As we have not agreed to any advance access or accepted any coverage restrictions, our provisional review will be live once we are confident in the opinions of our pair of reviewers.