Easily my favorite review of the Zaunkoenig M2K thus far happened by total chance. After coming across the M2K in a gaming setup review, Ali from Optimum Tech showed no hesitation and bought the M2K right there on the spot. About six weeks later he then posted his review: «World's Lightest Gaming Mouse (insane)»
Spoiler alert: he really liked the M2K. In fact he ended his review with these words:
«Thought this thing was gonna be really, really bad. But actually its kind of insane.»
It is easy to like a product that you expected to like and that you got sent for free. But liking a product that you bought with your own money and expected to hate? You know that you can trust that review.
This begs the question: are there gaming mouse reviews that you cannot trust?
Shaolin warrior monks
In his video called «YouTube Game Reviewers Are Corrupt» former Shaolin warrior monk and game reviewer Ranton discusses the dangers of free review copies. As you would expect from a former warrior monk, Ranton does not dance around the subject and instead lands one direct hit after the other:
«If you get a game copy early, you are now part of the publishers marketing campaign. The game you got, was not free. It has been paid. It appears on the balance sheet of the publisher under marketing expenses. Your video on the game is now sponsored and merely declaring it at the beginning of the video is not enough ...
If you are financially connected with the people who manufacture the product you are reviewing, your credibility is gone and your video should be marked as product placement from beginning to end.»
Of course this can be applied to gaming mouse reviews. A reviewer that got a gaming mouse not only for free, but before it even launched, profits in two ways: obviously he saved some money by not having to buy the mouse. The much bigger advantage however is that his review will get many more views because it is out early.
This reviewer is caught in a conflict of interest. On the one hand he knows that his viewers expect an unbiased review. On the other hand he knows that when his review is too critical he might not get free gaming mice in the future.
It does not help by the way when the reviewer is aware of this conflict of interest. Ranton drills down on this point relentlessly:
«It dont matter how hard you try to be unbiased and fair and tough and neutral. In fact, you trying harder is the conflict of interest already taking effect and impacting your view on the game.»
We as Zaunkoenig face a similar problem by the way. When we know that the M2K we are currently putting together will go to a famous gaming mouse reviewer; are we maybe trying a little harder to make sure his copy has really nice clicks? I would like to answer this question with «Absolutely not.» but this would be just as naive as a reviewer saying «I got this gaming mouse for free, but this does not affect my objectivity.»
It is a sticky situation no matter from where you look at it. Where to go from here?
One of these is endgame, the other I had to return
Another great review of the M2K was posted just as I was writing these lines. In his review «Gwolves Hsk wireless VS Zaunkoenig M2K: One of these is endgame, the other I had to return!» Troy from NotSoCommonSense highlights an interesting alternative to free review copies: returns.
Ever since we launched the M2K back in March of 2021 we have offered a 30 day money back guarantee, no questions asked. You can buy an M2K, test it for 30 days, and then, if you do not like it, send it back to us. No questions asked (heads-up: I am quite nosy so most likely I still will ask questions; but regardless of what you answer you will get your money back :P). The cost of shipping back to us is on you, but if that is a deal breaker to you maybe you are not that interested in reviewing a Zaunkoenig after all.
And here is another idea: say you bought the M2K and you do not like it for whatever reason. How about offering it to one of your viewers instead of sending it back? Since the M2K launched the waiting time for an M2K has been around one month so actually offering an M2K to your viewers with a shipping time of just a few days is of great value to your viewers.
This can work the other way round as well by the way: why not ask your viewers whether one of them has an M2K and would be willing to lend it to you?
In the past we have sent out free review units of the M1K as well as the M2K. Effective immediately however we will no longer send out free gaming mice to reviewers. This is the only way to not jeopardize the moral integrity of gaming mouse reviewers as well as our own.
It also is the only way to make sure that gamers interested in a Zaunkoenig can trust reviews about it. Because what good is a review when you cannot trust it?