Updated as of August, 24, 2021
Statement of Autonomy
IGN’s editorial and content creation teams operate independently, maintaining an editorial separation from our sister publications, parent companies Ziff Davis and J2 Global, and our internal sales team. This ensures that all content decisions – including those that govern reviews, news, features, previews, and all other content formats regardless of the platform they live on – are made solely by our editorial team, and that our coverage remains uninfluenced by external sources or financial considerations. Content that is sponsored or presented by external parties will be noted as such, also regardless of platform.
NDAs and Embargoes
IGN aims to provide you with content that's timely, comprehensive, and reliable. In order to do that prior to the public release of the game, movie, technology, or other entertainment we're covering, we often have to agree to non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and embargoes with the creators of the projects and products we cover. It's a very common practice that allows us to have better content prepped in advance of a game or movie's announcement or release. While we push back when the timing of these embargoes doesn't serve our audience and staff, we never alter our opinion or the tone of a given piece of content as leverage. In other words, we wouldn't alter our opinion of a product just to negotiate for an earlier embargo or exclusive.
As the industries we cover continue to be more important around the world, embargoes have sometimes been placed after a product's release. IGN does not agree to embargoes that lift after the property we're covering is legally available. For example, if a movie comes out on Tuesday in the UK, we should be free to post our review on Tuesday. If a game has a midnight launch in New York, we should be free to publish our review at midnight Eastern Time.
TLDR: We agree to embargoes, but not when they lift after the things we're covering are legally available. Whether we like something or not is never part of the embargo decision.
IGN Entertainment’s parent company, Ziff Davis, owns both IGN (the site you're reading now) and the digital games storefront and indie publisher Humble Bundle. While we're part of the same corporate family, IGN and Humble Bundle operate independently with a rigid editorial separation and different leadership. IGN's editorial team sets its own priorities without regard to whether or not a game is published or promoted by Humble Bundle. Humble Bundle makes no attempt to influence coverage on IGN.
Because Humble Bundle publishes and promotes games worth covering, IGN will continue to cover Humble Bundle games when we feel it's appropriate for our audience. All of that content will properly disclose our relationship and as much of it as possible will be produced by freelancers, particularly when it comes to reviews and non-news content that includes editorial opinion. We've also asked aggregate sites, like Metacritic, where we can’t ensure IGN’s disclosures will be surfaced, to exclude our review scores for Humble Bundle games.
While IGN’s staff expresses varied, individual opinions about the things we cover, we also publish scored reviews in text and video form. The IGN core website employs staff in the US, UK, and Australia and usually publishes one representative review for these territories. IGN licensee partners in other territories around the world may offer translated versions of these reviews, but also offer their own takes from local staff that can differ from our owned-and-operated English-language site. The details of review production, including who we assign to review a game, movie, TV show, or other product, the timing of the review, and the scope of its production and promotion, are handled entirely by our editorial team. Scores and overall editorial opinion are determined by the reviewer and the Reviews Editor or supervising editor. No consideration is made for advertising, exclusive access, or the future goodwill of the publishers whose projects we cover. Sponsorship details are not disclosed to the reviews teams. When we use reviewers outside of the core review team, we make sure that those reviewers have not contributed to any sponsored content related to that product.
TLDR: IGN's opinions are not for sale. They are managed entirely by the editorial teams and the review opinion is separate from publisher relations.
Copies and Costs
Most reviews are conducted using publisher-, studio-, or developer-provided review copies and screenings. This is by necessity in order to provide timely reviews ahead of release. If the publisher or studio does not provide early access, a copy or ticket will be purchased at IGN's cost; the cost does not come out of the reviewer's pocket. If absolutely necessary, we will attend game review events in order to learn more about a game, ask questions, and help provide timely reviews — though never as the basis for an entire review. Whenever possible, they are avoided altogether. If the supervising editor determines IGN needs to attend the event, that attendance will be disclosed.
In the case of review events, we do not accept travel or accommodation. If we have to attend a review event, IGN pays for the appropriate critic to cover said event.
IGN staff may accept complimentary accounts and in-game funds that are necessary for testing game features. We would, for example, allow developers to waive or offer comp subscription fees for MMOs, PSN, or XBLA and to provide our staff with in-game currency to purchase content relevant to our coverage. On behalf of its entertainment and tech reviewers, IGN similarly accepts complimentary movie tickets, comics, Blu-rays, and hardware that are necessary for the completion of timely and comprehensive reviews.
While “value” is a critical component of review opinion, except in extreme cases we avoid factoring the MSRP into the scores of the games we review. Our review scale is meant to represent the quality of a gaming experience, as opposed to the quality of the price you paid for that experience. For example, if you get a bad game (which we'd rate a 4.0-4.9) for a dollar, that just means you got a good deal on a bad game. If you see a game we scored at 7.0 or higher available for cheap, you can be confident you're getting a good deal on that purchase. At the end of the day, we want our reviews to be relevant to you regardless of your entertainment budget, so we don't presume to know how much of a sacrifice $60 is for you.
In the case of tech, where multiple products can provide the same functional benefit, a direct comparison of price is obviously much more relevant to the question of value.
Reviewers are chosen based on numerous factors, including but not limited to personal interest in that specific movie, show, comic, game, or franchise and knowledge of similar works in that genre. Reviewer candidates with any significant personal or professional connection to the studio, developer, or publisher of a product are recused from that review. No one outside of IGN editorial has any say in or approval rights over our choice of reviewer.
Reviewers are on salary or paid a flat rate for their work. No bonus is given if a review gets more traffic, and therefore they have no incentive to alter reviews or scores to be intentionally contrarian or incendiary.
Under no circumstances are review scores influenced by anything other than our own opinions on the quality of the product in question. Scores cannot be bought, sold, traded for favors or promises of future favors, or any other form of exchange or manipulation. As per an internal policy refinement in 2013, IGN does not engage in exclusive reviews to further protect the reviews process and to avoid the perception that early access could influence the reviewer’s opinion. In the cases that IGN published reviews exclusively ahead of other outlets, these reviews were always done completely unconditionally. No minimum score was ever promised, and the timing of a review being posted was not based on a score threshold.
Publishers, studios, and developers are not informed of review scores, and do not have access to review text, ahead of posting, though a courtesy notice of extreme positive or negative opinions may be given very shortly before a review is posted. This prevents a publisher from pressuring us to change a score ahead of release. In rare cases, the Editor-in-Chief and Reviews Editor may share with IGN's sales team the same courtesy of a heads-up of a particularly positive or negative review. This is merely to allow our sales team the opportunity to prep for any incoming communication from the game publisher once the review is posted.
As more and more games are dependent on online elements that can't be tested prior to release, IGN sometimes withholds final review scores and opinion relevant to those online elements until they can be tested in a live environment. For those games, IGN will provide a temporary score and typically test for a maximum of 48 hours after release before deciding on a final score. Some games, such as MMOs, may require additional delays in assigning a final score. In the meantime, to serve the audience who still wants to know what we think of the rest of the game, we will post an unscored review in progress, which act as a diary that provides reviewer impressions. Reviews in progress may also be conducted in the event that we do not receive review copies far enough in advance of a game’s release to sufficiently test it; this will often happen with massively multiplayer games that require populated servers to evaluate.
As more and more games and technology evolve over time, we want to ensure that our review content is as up to date and relevant as possible. When a drastic change in a game or hardware platform's quality intersects with sufficient interest in current reviews for that product, IGN considers a re-review. These are approved at the discretion of the reviews editor, who assigns and publishes a new review. The previous review is archived.
Because resources are finite, re-reviewing an old thing sometimes means a new thing doesn't get reviewed. For that reason, we do not re-review products where changes are minor or immediate (such as a patch released the week after a review is posted, or servers are down for a weekend), or where there's no significant interest or relevance for our audience. We consider relevance based on factors such as Google trends, current size of the audience playing the game, internal IGN metrics, and our editorial judgment.
Conflicts of Interest
IGN's been around a long time, and some of the people who used to work here now work at companies that make the products we cover. Conversely, some people who work here currently, used to work at those same companies. Coverage assignments are managed so that we can avoid any possible conflict of interest. If we feel it's necessary to cover a game or movie made by a former employee, that coverage will be handled by a freelancer or staffer who had no close personal relationship with the former employee. Current employees are also restricted from covering products they used to work on before they came to IGN.
If someone at IGN develops a relationship with an industry contact that extends beyond a professional friendship, he or she must disclose that to the editorial managers, who will determine whether or not that employee should be permitted to cover their friend's projects. If we determine that employee can still cover the project fairly, that personal relationship will be disclosed to our users.
Due to a strict separation of IGN's editorial and ad sales departments, reviewers are unaware of any ad deals that may or may not coincide with a game's release before a review is published.
IGN’s policies on corrections, updates, and taking down content:
As a general policy – and to maintain our authority, trust, and transparency with our audience – IGN does not take content down (or unpublish content), relying instead on updates with editor’s notes as necessary to convey corrections or other changes.
We regularly need to make adjustments, additions, and other edits to published content, especially in the case of news stories that develop over time. New information may come to light, corrections of factual errors may need to be made, or additional context may be required as a story evolves. In game reviews, for example, updates might cover an expanded review and analysis around new technical adjustments or game modes following a patch or newly released versions. You can expect to see a similar format for updates for any factual errors or other content additions across all our content, including previews and features. Updates or corrections work differently across the various platforms where IGN publishes content – YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – so we’ll make an effort to add pinned comments or updates to descriptions to note changes where applicable.
More complex corrections or updates might also require an editor’s note to further address editorial standards or ethical matters. These editor’s notes will be written by the senior or executive editor in charge of the piece with approval from the EIC as needed, or written by the EIC herself.
As editorial policy, reflecting long-standing journalistic practices, we don’t agree to takedown requests. In very rare cases, we might need to escalate to fully removing the content of a piece. These extreme circumstances would most likely relate to legal considerations. In those rare circumstances, as a matter of transparency and to minimize confusion, you will see an editor’s note in place of the original content indicating that it has been removed alongside any legally permissible context that we can share for clarification. These editor’s notes would be written by the executive editor in charge of the piece or the EIC, and possibly reviewed and edited by our legal team as needed.
(The IGN team is committed to these processes, but this document is not meant to be understood as a comprehensive statement of our policies. The team has additional internal resources and systems in place relating to corrections, updates, and potential takedown requests that reflect the processes and values outlined here. These policies are living documents that will be continually updated and modified as needed, particularly as circumstances vary widely and may not cover every situation that might arise.)
IGN Staff Disclosure
Posts bylined “IGN Staff” are written, edited, and constructed by our editorial content team as a group rather than by an individual author. Most often these will be “roundup” features like our recommendations for PC games or our annual Best Of series honoring the best games, movies, and shows of the year. Any content not written by the editorial team will be labeled with one of our content disclosures.