Advertising Bias in Video Game Magazines
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The potential for advertising bias forming a conflict of interest with editorial content is a problem for any publication, and those with a gaming focus are no exception. Reviews in these publications can make or break a game and in some cases — a developer. The purpose of this content analysis of three gaming magazines is to examine whether publications in which developers purchase advertising are biased in favor of those developers’ games. The magazines chosen were: Game Informer, GamesTM, and Edge. The working definition of bias used is the financial pressure that advertisers exert on the editorial content of publications through the purchasing of advertising space. Video game magazines were chosen for this study due to readers’ reliance on reviews to make purchase decisions. No overt advertising bias was found. There was no significant link between the coverage of games and ads for those games in the same issue. A more subtle case for bias was found, however, when the entire sample of each magazine was looked at. For example, games reviewed anywhere in the sample in a given magazine tended to more often have an advertisement and for it to be larger, and this was especially true if the game received positive coverage. Other interesting results showed that magazines had a largely varying spread in the tone of reviews and that the majority of ads were for non-games, though game ads were larger on average.