In a move that is sure to re-ignite the long smoldering debate on editorial integrity vs. commercial viability, video game website IGN and video game retailer GameStop have announced that they will be combining their internet traffic and integrating thier content.

Specifically, IGN editorial content and advertising will begin appearing on GameStop’s website, and GameStop will be advertising on IGN. The sites will be extensively cross linked, with ample opportunities for readers to buy product from GameStop via IGN. Combining the two site’s internet traffic will net GameStop and IGN more than 36 million unique monthly viewers.

GameStop is no stranger to editorial partnerships, being the long time parent company of Game Informer magazine and its affiliated website. What the IGN partnership may mean for Game Informer is not yet clear.

Thanks to Game Stop’s Edge Card, which required that consumers purchase a $14.99 yearly subscription to the magazine, Game Informer has managed to buck the declining sales trends of the magazine industry. However, a new promotion — the Power Up Rewards Card — has replaced the Edge card, and features a free option that does not include a year of Game Informer magazine. Could GameStop be moving to sever ties with Game Informer in favor of IGN?

At the same time, what does the GameStop deal mean for IGN’s Direct2Drive game sales? GameStop has been working diligently to enter the PC games digital distribution market, in addition to its purchase of games portal Kongregate earlier this year. Will Direct2Drive be a casualty in the merger? Again, nothing has been announced.

Finally, what are consumers to make of this development? While there are no grounds to impugn IGN’s integrity, and there nothing inherently wrong with GameStop going about its business of selling games, one has to wonder about the closed system this creates. If every impression of a given game, from announcement through retail availability, is under the watch of parties who ultimatley stand to benefit from the sale of said game, will there be any room for honest editorial comment? Caveat emptor, Ranters. Buyer beware.

Where do you stand on the GameStop/IGN partnership? Does it change the way you view either of the companies? What do you think will happen to Game Informer and Direct2Drive? We know you’ve got a lot to say about this one — get started in the comments below.

Source: All Things Digital [via Joystiq]

tags: PC, PS3, Wii

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