Earlier this week, Variety's Ben Fritz expressed concern over IGN's exclusive first review of Grand Theft Auto IV, asking rhetorically, "How can we trust a videogame review when the outlet running it has been given a major commercial favor ... from the publisher of the game?" Well, GameDaily Media Coverage Columnist Gus Mastrapa went the extra mile and asked that very question to some people at IGN. And he even got an answer!

"We in no way trade scores for an exclusive," said IGN VP Tal Blevins, adding that publishers have no access to or say in the text of a review before it goes live. That doesn't mean IGN didn't make any concessions to secure the exclusive, though. IGN Xbox editor Hilary Goldstein admitted the site used promotional placement on the site's top feature bar to secure the exclusive. "Our bargaining chip is to basically say, 'I will put it here if you let me have this,'" Goldstein said. Mastrapa likened the practice to an "exclusive cover story" in a game magazine.

As for Variety and Fritz, Goldstein seemed unimpressed with with his journalism bona fides. "Nobody from Variety called us and said, 'Hey, would you like to comment about this?'" he said. "He says in blog post, 'If I had the game right now I would have broken the embargo.' To me that goes against your ethics." Nothing like an I'm-more-ethical-than-thou battle to get your heart racing in the morning.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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