Sunday, 8 January 2012

Game reviews, Reviewers and New Game Journalism

The first thing i do when i come into my room is boot up my computer and go onto IGN, Kotaku and PCGamer to brush up on the advances in the games industry, the gossip about the latest game or to read reviews about the latest releases. With most gamers doing this game journalism is fast becoming a major factor in the games industry even without having a direct tie to game development. Even i for a time wrote for a small website, reviewing games and addressing issues i had with certain games.

Game reviewing gives you a short conclusion on the game, like a blurb of a book but for a game. Good reviews are usually short and to the point, as we gamers have such short attention spans, but it gives us a good idea of what we’re getting before we get to play. I remember a time before reviews where i would buy a game based on how awesome the game cover looked. In my opinion game covers have got a lot more boring and very rarely even say what the game is about.

A lesson i have learnt in reading game reviews is to read multiple reviews of the same game. I find some writers can be really subjective whilst others are on the other end of the table with their objective writing. Both in my mind very valid ways of writing about games. although i prefer a more objective review with comparisons to other games, something not many reviewers do much these days.

The game reviews have accumulated a lot of power. Obviously when you read a review telling you that a certain game is awesome your natural curiosity will make you go and buy that game to see for yourself. I am sure you can understand what would happen for a bad review. Some publishers have found another factor which influences game ratings, other than fact and opinion. Many high profile publishers have been known in recent years to bribe reviewers into giving their game a high score. Many game magazines and review sites receive copies of games before their release so that a review can be written up in time. It’s been known that in some cases publishers will not let reviewers get the game early unless the game is given a score above a certain rank.

On Modern Warfare 3’s release, the site Metacritic was bombarded with low user scores. Although most of these scores were not just, the developers of the game were obviously not pleased by the scores. One employee even begged followers on twitter to give higher scores. It was later said that some developers reviewed the game themselves to try and boost the score.

The moral of this blog is how game reviews need to be more honest. As good reviews gives good sales. Some amazing indy games and studios are being overlooked because they didn’t have enough money to pay for a 9 out of 10.