Whistleblower Claims Professional Reviewers Aren’t Allowed To Give Negative Scores

A former IGN writer claims he and other writers weren't allowed to write negative comic book reviews for the site.

By Douglas Helm | Published


Bounding Into Comics recently reported that former IGN writer Tres Dean alleged that the popular gaming website had restrictions on negative reviews for comics. According to his Tweet, the comic book reviewers weren’t “really allowed to give bad reviews,” during his tenure at the website. Dean made the comments after social media users noted that IGN’s recent Hogwarts Legacy review was at odds with the score.

Dean did point out that he wasn’t on the video game side of things when he worked there. IGN reviewers recently awarded the newly released Hogwarts Legacy with a nine out of ten, which is just below the site’s coveted ‘Masterpiece’ score. The review did mention negatives like lack of enemy variety and performance issues, which may lead some people to score a gamer lower.

Of course, it’s also possible that this reviewer really loves the Harry Potter franchise and that they did enjoy the game that much. It is tough to determine the truth behind claims like these when reviews are opinions and therefore inherently subjective. With that being said, Bounding Into Comics does point out that the ‘bad reviews’ for the comics rarely dipped below a five out of ten, which is more average than bad.

If these allegations are true, it’s likely the reviewers are told this to prevent getting blacklisted from these major companies and developers. These big review sites rely on companies to provide them with scoops and early access codes or copies of games, films, and comics so they can review media ahead of its official release. IGN is one of the biggest video game review sites, along with reviewing other forms of media.

Hogwarts Legacy transgender
Hogwarts Legacy, which IGN gave a 9/10 score

With that being said, it does seem like IGN is in one of those rare scenarios where the site is too big to fail. While their reviewers may have had to avoid writing bad reviews when the site was smaller, you would think they would possibly be able to write reviews based on their actual opinions without worrying about losing access to games from a developer in the future. Of course, there are probably plenty of factors at play that determines how these major review websites choose to engage with these developers and game studios.

If you want to investigate on your own, you can look into IGN’s recent video game reviews. A quick scan shows that the only games that have scored less than a five from reviewers were Choo-Choo Charles with a four out of ten and FIFA 23 Legacy Edition for Switch with a two out of ten.

While Choo-Choo Charles came from a small indie studio, FIFA 23 Legacy Edition was made by the massive studio EA, and the reviewer absolutely ripped into the studio and the game itself. So, there may not be any real way to tell how IGN determines its review scores. It’s possible that they play ball with the studios and it’s possible that they give their honest opinions in their reviews — the world may never know for sure.