One year ago tomorrow, Bethesda announced that they would no longer be providing pre-release review copies of their games to websites and YouTubers. But it would seem Bethesda is quietly rolling back that policy as there appear to be pre-release copies of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus out in the world in advance of Friday's release.
I theorized at the time of the original announcement that while they could get away with that marketing plan for games with the name recognition and lineage of Doom or Skyrim, games like Dishonored and Prey would suffer the absence of launch week/pre-release coverage of the titles. And sure enough, a year later, we've seen Dishonored 2 and Prey exhibit positive critical reception but both games appear to have underwhelmed financially, perhaps due to the spotty "reviews will come out when they come out" nature of this policy. Instead of the majority of the industry having the conversation around the games at a single, clear point in time, the coverage was scattered and lacked the same level of impact.
So I find it interesting that - without fanfare or any public sense of mea culpa - Bethesda seems to have walked back this policy, delivering pre-release codes to third parties before Friday's launch of their next big title, which is already at a disadvantage going up against the most anticipated Mario game in a decade.