Reviews for indie action game Dead Cells began to roll out yesterday, and while the Metroidvania has been well-received by critics, an assessment by the leading video game website IGN is drawing controversy due to its similarity to an existing YouTube review of the game.
On July 24th, YouTube channel Boomstick Gaming uploaded a four-minute overview of Dead Cells, a roguelite that it praised for its unique marriage of combat and exploration. With 16,000 followers, Boomstick Gaming is a small channel that averages under 5,000 views per video. IGN, on the other hand, is the biggest gaming website on the internet, and its YouTube channel has around 10 million subscribers.
In a video uploaded yesterday, Boomstick Gaming compares his existing video review with IGN’s, highlighting a number of similarities between the two. Beyond the repetition of certain buzzwords and phrases, the general framework of both reviews appears to be the same. The focus and wording of the reviews are so aligned that the YouTuber highlights multiple time codes where the two uncannily overlap. Per Boomstick Gaming:
00:15 MYSELF: In Dead Cells you will need to kill your way through a labyrinth of levels all punctuated by boss encounters that starts off quite linear, but the more you play the more routes and game mechanics open up to you. You might not be able to make it to the final boss on your current run but if you can manage to salvage some blueprints for some new gear or better yet, an ability altering rune, it makes it all worth your while….
00:25 [IGN]: In Dead Cells you fight your way through a ever changing labyrinth of levels with branching paths, you’re almost guaranteed not to make it all the way through on every run, but as your efforts lead you to blueprints that unlocked new gear, it makes it all worth your while….
“The entire structure of my video is copied and many sentences are almost identical with high school levels of ‘word changing,’” Boomstick Gaming wrote in the video description.
The page that previously hosted the Dead Cells written and video review, both of which were composed by Nintendo editor Filip Miucin, has been removed and replaced with a statement from IGN:
As a group of writers and creators who value our own work and that of others in our field, the editorial staff of IGN takes plagiarism very seriously. In light of concerns that have been raised about our Dead Cells review, we’ve removed it for the time being and are investigating.
While the plagiarism accusation has been live for less than a day, it has already accrued over 119,000 views and attracted hundreds of enraged comments. Boomstick Gaming says that it has contacted IGN about the issue, but has allegedly not heard back. Miucin, for his part, said on Twitter that this was the first video review that he edited for IGN.
“I would like to be cited, collaborated with, and compensated for the healthy ad revenue they pulled in on both their written review and video review,” Boomstick Gaming told The Verge. “I have been doing YouTube since 2006 as a hobby and have found somewhat of a following recently. A few months ago I started a Patreon that attempts to help me continue what I enjoy doing by accepting donations from fans of my videos but has seen little to no success.”
The Verge contacted IGN for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.