Original Article By Spencer Baculi At BoundingIntoComics.com:

In yet another apparent confirmation that the mainstream ‘geek’ media is in bed with the very companies they cover, a former IGN staffer has claimed that during his tenure with the site, he and his colleagues were “not really allowed” to leave negative reviews on comic books.

This supposed lack of ethics was leveled on February 6th by freelance journalist Tres Dean, who reviewed comic books for IGN from April 2014 to May 2015, in response to a tweet about the outlet’s recent Hogwarts Legacy review.

Taking note of the dissonance between reviewer Travis Northup’s criticism of everything from how the game is “cursed with a lack of enemy variety” and “suffered from just about every issue that makes IGN’s performance review team cry” with his final score of 9/10, Twitter user @epistemophagy opined, “IGN’s review of Hogwarts Legacy is very weird because it reads like they wanted to give it a bad review but weren’t allowed to.”

Jumping off from @epistemophagy’s observation, Dean then alleged, “video games aren’t really my lane but when I was reviewing comics for IGN about ten years ago we were in fact not really allowed to give bad reviews.”

A study of IGN’s archives prove that there may in fact be some truth to Dean’s words.

On one hand, contrary to the former staffer’s recollection, during his tenure IGN allowed a number of its reviewers to give books poor scores, including DC’s Worlds’ Finest Vol. 1 #22Marvel’s Ultimate FF Vol. 1 #1, and DC’s Future’s End: Grayson Vol. 1 #1 – the last even written by Dean himself.

On the other, the frequency of these negative reviews were just as wishy-washy as Dean’s “not really allowed” description of the situation, with roughly two such bad scores being posted per week.

For example, for the week of September 24th, 2014, Catwoman: Futures End Vol. 1 #1 and IDW’s G.I. Joe Vol. 4 #1 tied for last with an even 5/10 each. On January 21st, 2015, the losers were DC’s The New 52: Futures End Vol. 1#38 and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 #23, both of which failed to reach even a 5/10.

In further support of Dean’s account, it was not uncommon for certain books of questionable quality to receive questionably high praise.

Consisting of a three-page fight between the titular team and a random shark followed by 16 pages of set-up and forced melodrama involving America Chavez, Marvel’s Secret Wars event tie-in issue A-Force Vol. 1 #01 earned an 8.4/10, with reviewer Jesse Schedeen praising, “While certain details regarding the nature of this team and their connection to the old marvel Universe remain unclear, A-Force #1 marks a worthy debut for Marvel’s newest team book.”

Despite being widely panned by fans and critics alike for its bastardization of the Czarnian bounty hunter, October 2nd, 2014’s Lobo Vol. 3 #1 still managed to snag a relatively respectable 6.8/10 from IGN’s Jeff Lake.

“While Lobo proves he can hold his own, Cullen Bunn still has some kinks to work out,” he meekly summarized of the issue.

However, what lends Dean’s claims the most credence is the admitted fact that the media frequently ‘plays nice’ with giant media corporations in order to maintain access to their products.

As explained by SyFy Wire editor Danny Roth during an appearance on the site’s Who Won The Week podcast, “Here’s the actual reality. Here’s where we actually are in the industry if you want to talk about quote access media. Every single person that wants to have access to things early, that wants to get access to things so that traffic is drawn to their site will on occasion. Everybody at this podcast, everybody in our industry occasionally has to play softball, occasionally has to look the other way a little bit.”

“Everybody has to do it,” he continued. “In the sense that ‘I hated a movie, but I won’t say that I hated a movie’. Or an actor behaved a sort of way, and you don’t want to put it out there that that happened.”

Met with the agreeing assertion “Right, because you might not get the next review,” from his fellow SyFy Wire editor Karama Horne, Roth went on to conclude, “To some degree everybody in our industry that is part of this quote-on-quote ‘access media’ has to decide which battles they want to pick. Which of the ones where ‘my voice is the one that has to get said.’”