Our friends at Gamertag Radio have announced that Electronic Arts will be sponsoring their trip to E3. The significance of this isn't readily apparent, so some explanation is in order. As many of our readers may know, E3 has become an invitation only affair. At first, some suspected that this format would limit coverage to those who were sympathetic to the companies presenting at E3. There was fear that internet journalists (who are arguably more outspoken than print magazines that are heavily subsidized by the very companies they cover) would be shut out. That fear has been mostly allayed (Joystiq, along with X3F, will definitely be at E3), but there remains another gap: independent operations. With Electronic Arts sponsoring Gamertag Radio, a door has been opened, and with that comes a number of questions.
First, it's great that EA is giving a chance to an independent podcast like GTR. It gives hope to other indie sites that don't have the budgets of bigger sites. However, there is also plenty of room for concern. In the right circumstances, a company could easily expect a sponsored website to paint a rosy picture of its games or products, even if it doesn't explicitly say so. For example, imagine if Nyko sponsored someone: "The Intercooler 2.0 rawked our sawks off!" You get the idea. We're not saying we know of any such instances, but the possibility is a little frightening. Now, we know Godfree and everyone at GTR. They're being perfectly up front about EA's sponsorship, realize the implications, and will in no way give EA special treatment.
It's exciting that independent news sources are getting a shot at E3, but it leaves us wary. We can only hope that future sponsors and those they sponsor are as honest as GTR. We have to ask, what do you think of the idea of corporate sponsorship for E3?
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