Driver 3 (or Driv3r as it's marketed) was a god-awful game: the graphics, the lack of fist-fighting, the inexcusable number of bugs — the lot.
It was so bad it couldn’t even pass as a poor man’s GTA III (though the Driver series’ third-person play-style goes way back).
So when PlayStation: The Official Magazine and Official Xbox Magazine — both published by Future Publishing — gave the game an incredible 9/10, the proverbial ‘shit hit the fan’ and left a stain that still taints the integrity of games journalism to this day.
The two mags might have gotten away with the favourable reviews, if Driver 3 had not been crucified (many times over) by the rest of the gaming press. Knowing all was not well, readers converged on the publishing house’s GamesRadar forum to discuss the highly suspicious score.
There were whispers of corruption and that Future Publishing was paid off by Atari. The forum posts raged on, but the comments were systematically wiped by administrators, which gave way to suggestions of a cover up by the publishing house. Eventually, Future removed the forum thread in its entirety. It was like Stalinist Russia all over again. Except, you know, without the beatings and famine.
"The topic of post you requested does not exist."
As it turns out, Future Publishing was indeed awarded first dibs on Driver 3 by Atari — but neither party has admitted to any wrongdoing. The case was never resolved but the ‘Driv3rgate’ debacle was a punch in the guts for game reviews’ credibility.
For many, it marked the death of games journalism.
Hot Coffee mod scalds Rockstar (2008)
When Hilary Clinton is talking about video games, something is definitely wrong. Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto San Andreas was by far the most controversial game of the GTA series thanks to the “Hot Coffee mod” scandal.
Enthusiastic GTA gamers developed an independent mod that activated a sex minigame, dubbed Hot Coffee, in the PC version of San Andreas. Suggestions the mod only worked to turn on (pardon the pun) a hidden component of the game were rejected by Rockstar, which claimed hackers fumbled extensively with the game’s code to create the salacious sex game.
But when Hot Coffee code was discovered on the console versions of San Andreas, the publisher had to swallow its words and admit it had put it there.
The revelation evoked scathing criticism from several high-profile politicians. Most notable was US Senator Hilary Clinton, who called for tougher regulations on the sale of video games. Rockstar was accused of trying to cover Hot Coffee up so it could obtain an M-rating with the US classification board. The game subsequently received an 18+ classification in the US, and it was banned from release in Australia (Australia does not have a classification for 18+ games).
Rockstar launched a "de-caffeinated" version of San Andreas (which was released with an MA rating locally) and released a patch to block Hot Coffee in the original prints. At the peak of the scandal, a protest was staged at Rockstar’s headquarters with people demanding the company’s execs to be prosecuted.
Sony PlayStation 3 launch -- what’s not wrong with it? (2006 – 2007)
With the Xbox 360’s one year head start, Sony was determined to crush its rival with the much anticipated PlayStation 3.
In the lead-up to the console's launch, then Sony Entertainment President (and misunderstood genius) Ken Kutaragi embarked on a trash talking campaign against Xbox 360 while simultaneously singing the praises of the impending PS3. Behold his pearls of wisdom:
"“The PS3 is not a game machine."
"The next generation doesn't start until we say it does."
“I believe we made the most beautiful thing in the world. Nobody would criticise a renowned architect’s blueprint that the position of a gate is wrong. It’s the same as that.”
“With the PS3, our intentions have been to create a machine with supercomputer calculation capabilities for home entertainment.”
“[Consumers] will work more hours to buy one. We want people to feel that they want it, irrespective of anything else.”
“Microsoft has stated clearly that it is going after PlayStation. However, they're going not after the PlayStation 3, but the PlayStation 2.”
“Microsoft is still not a black belt.”
“Is it not nonsense to compare the charge for dinner at the company cafeteria with dinner at a fine restaurant?... If you can have an amazing experience, we believe price is not a problem."