The popular gaming news outlet Kotaku has been accused of charging a developer $1,500 to license quotes from their negative review of a game for limited marketing purposes.

The accusation against Kotaku was first leveled against them by Alexei Bochenek, the Creative Director, Game Director, and Narrative Designer at Psyop, the “multi-disciplinary studio” that developed the recent KFC themed dating simulator, I Love You, Colonel Sanders!.

On his personal Twitter page, Bochenek, seemingly shocked by the audacity of Kotaku’s request, detailed how the gaming news site “hit me up to ask me if I would like to pay them to license their review for marketing purposes.”

A certain popular video game website wrote a negative review of a game I directed…and then hit me up to ask me if I would like to pay them to license their review for marketing purposes! Is that normal?? Never heard of games websites writing reviews then asking for money.

Alexei (@heyalexei) October 3rd, 2019

Just $1,500 for the opportunity to quote their review on a single website and THREE social media platforms, for one year. Oh, and they spelled my name wrong in their sales email to me.

Alexei (@heyalexei) October 3rd, 2019

Fuck it. It was @Kotaku. Seems like the new Gizmodo owners are trying to squeeze every penny they can out of their investment, including hiring a firm to cold call anyone they write about. Lucky me! If it turns out this is a scam, I apologize in advance, but it sure feels legit. https://archive.is/T7kpr/1ffae214dea4a1dd191df622c99e3b4b414d0734

Alexei (@heyalexei) October 3rd, 2019

Kotaku was particularly critical of I Love You, Colonel Sanders! in their review, discussing how the game was “a supposedly comedic dating game without any good jokes and, worse, without any characters you can really feel” and noted the concept of the game was “actually about making its players fall in love with the idea of buying fried chicken:”

“I came away from I Love You, Colonel Sanders confused more than anything. It’s not actively hostile to the genre, but also doesn’t take the genre seriously enough to be funny to fans of it.

By the end of the game, I didn’t feel as though Colonel Sanders was my love interest. If anything, the food was. For the main character’s final exam, I teamed up with Colonel Sanders to make a KFC Famous Bowl, the truly nausea inducing combination of chicken tenders, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. Despite the game acknowledging that this combination of foods is a nightmare, Professor Sprinkles gave it full marks, calling it delicious. At that point, the jig was up for me. It’s hard to fall in love when you are ultimately being asked to buy fried chicken.”

As of writing, it is unknown whether this was a legitimate offer from Kotaku or an attempt to extort Bochenek and tarnish Kotaku’s reputation. Bochenek has since deleted his accusatory tweets, and as of writing, Kotaku has yet to address on the accusations.

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