...the best stuff they do gets buried in seconds under the torrent of never-ending, never-important press releases and rumors pulled off NeoGAF. I do wish there was a more granular way to subscribe to Kotaku's RSS feed, at least -- I absolutely do not care about new Red Faction screenshots, but there they are in Google Reader nonetheless.
In Google Reader, I subscribe to a number of video game feeds. Most are smaller, niche blogs that provide original insight and analysis about games new and old. But the majority of posts that pop up in my games folder come from just a handful of big sites, like Kotaku, Joystiq, Game|Life, and Giant Bomb. All these sites do their share of worthwhile, original work, but they're much more likely to all, within moments of one another, start pimping screenshots for some new game.
I don't mean to suggest that I think every site should serve me and only me. cpe and I may agree that new Red Faction screens aren't interesting, but for many people they're probably fascinating. And it's good that anybody looking for screenshots of upcoming games knows where to go. The problem here is who's directing the conversation.
These sites aren't publishing new screenshots and commenting hilariously on bulleted lists of gameplay features because of any editorial decisions on their part. They're doing it because the game publishers have given them the assets and told them when to post them. That's it.
They're not checking to see if the visuals are un-retouched, in-game graphics, or if they're bullshots. They're not putting in the legwork to give their readers new and important information. They are, literally, taking what the publisher gives them, then turning around and giving it to you, without insight or analysis. Instead of acting as gatekeepers, they're the town criers.
To reiterate, I'm not saying that these things shouldn't be made available. And I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that these kinds of posts generate more traffic than think pieces and originals. But it's discouraging to realize that game publishers are steering the entire conversation, and both readers and writers are happy to let them take the wheel.