Game reviews: what do reviewers owe us?

Published Thursday 23 Oct 2014 4:27pm | 11
Tags: reviews, review, game review
 
Game reviews: what do reviewers owe us?

Note:  This has nothing to do with #gamergate or any of that stuff but just the general dramas that seem to occur with reviews.

 

 So recently (well a month and a half ago now) Destiny was released, it was eagerly awaited and so of course we were going to see reviews for this product.  On this fantastic site a review was put up after a couple of days (located here: http://nzgamer.com/reviews/2130/destiny.html) which caused quite a stir.  People seemed to be extremely upset that the review was posted after 2 days.  This mainly appeared to be because they saw it as like Diablo and MMO’s where a lot of content is added later.

 So where these complaints justified?  Should the reviewer have waited a specific amount of time to write their review? 

To those questions I ask how long should a reviewer wait? Is it based on how many hours you have played? Or how many days? (As a lot of comments seem to be based on the issue being 2 days at not the hours played).

To this I say it is at the reviewer’s discretion.

The only responsibility I believe a reviewer has is to play as much as they feel is justified of a game (generally at least finish the story and try out the other features) and then give good justifications as to why they scored it that way.


I hope the reviewer played at least 100 hours of this game before coming to a conclusion.

Then the onus moves to the reader (that’s right we have a part to play in this process too).
It is up to us to read the review and decide if we personally feel this review is right for us.  For example if a reviewer states that the shooting mechanics are generic but work well, for some people this may be an issue for others this won’t.  So if you like the things that a reviewer hated then the score won’t mean anything to you, and that’s fine.  Over time you come to trust certain reviewers more than others.

For example I trust Mathew Codd’s reviews on this site, I don’t always agree with them but I read his reviews and find they are usually pretty spot on, things that bother him don’t always bother me, in which case in my own mind I might add another number to the score.  But the benefits of reading said reviews are I can see his views on different aspects of a game, see if there were major flaws in a game and use this information to assist my purchasing decision.

Which brings forth another point.  People seem to complain like the review is deciding their purchasing decision for them, then complain.  A review shouldn’t make your decision, it should assist it.  It may assist your buying habits in that a review of 2 may assist you in saving a pile of money but I certainly don’t buy games just because they get a 9, but if I was considering it then the 9 may help push me to a buying stage.

 
An actual game that a review convinced me to hold of on.
Enjoyed the game but Im glad I didnt pay full price for it.

So why do people seem to care so much?

I think it’s due to people loving gaming so much.  This can wind up with people feeling low scores on games they have been waiting being a little gutted when they see a reviewer score it low.  And unfortunately with the way the internet works it’s just too easy to complain and they use this means to vent their disappointment.

Take this site again for an example, the people complaining about a reviewer not playing enough of the game to form a judgment actually have the ability to write their own reviews.  If they consider it such a disappointment that the game was hard-done by then they have ability to write a reader review and have it published on the site to give it the score they feel it deserves.  Interestingly enough these users didn’t write their own reviews (at least not yet, a month and a half since) to give Destiny the time they feel it deserves.  It’s very easy to start an account and complain about a reviewer, it’s not so easy to actually put some time and thought into writing their own review.

 How factual should a review be?

I have seen time and time again people complain about how opinionated a review is.  I believe the reason that reviews are generally fairly opinionated is because they are opinion pieces.  They are someone’s opinion about their experiences of a game, if they enjoyed or not and why.  If readers want fact sheets they can find them on the games website or Wikipedia.  When I read a review I don’t need to know how many polygons are in a characters models nose, I want to know what the “experience” of playing the game is like, and that is going to be full of opinions.

 Are there bad reviews?

Of course there are, and if a review is good or bad is also an opinion.  I have read reviews where a chapter of the review has nothing to do with the game itself.  But the good part about that is if you read the review, you will see this, and can go look for another review that may appeal to you.

 

So to summarize, reviews are opinion pieces.  The reviewers only owe us their opinion and the reasons for the verdict to be articulated well so we can see why they draw their conclusions, but as readers it is our responsibility to read the review and to decide whether or not it applies to us.  Funnily enough after weeks of reviews coming out, they mostly came to the same or a similar conclusion that the NZG review came to in 2 days.

 


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Comments Comments (11)

 
Posted by nimrod76
On Friday 24 Oct 2014 1:07 PM
1
Another great blog post DM 5 stars, so when are you going to start writing for NZG?
 
 
 
Posted by CoffeeAddict
On Friday 24 Oct 2014 6:23 PM
1
I agree, when will you step up to be an official writer?
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Friday 24 Oct 2014 6:53 PM
-
Haha thanks nims and coffee.

When they offer me a job :P
 
 
 
Posted by tuftsdude
On Saturday 25 Oct 2014 1:10 AM
1
Good blog. Kept me awake at this time of the night :D
4 and a half stars. I put the mouse between the 4th and 5th star, it kept going back and forth.
When I clicked, it chose 5 xP
I just thought you should know, because.
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Saturday 25 Oct 2014 8:01 AM
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25 October 2014, 01:10 AM Reply to tuftsdude
Good blog. Kept me awake at this time of the night :D
4 and a half stars. I put the mouse between the 4th and 5th star, it kept going back and forth.
When I clicked, it chose 5 xP
I just thought you should know, because.
Haha thanks tufts
 
 
 
Posted by Goonertron
On Tuesday 28 Oct 2014 7:10 AM
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Their opinion...
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Tuesday 28 Oct 2014 7:15 AM
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28 October 2014, 07:10 AM Reply to Goonertron
Their opinion...
Is that a correction?
 
 
 
Posted by Goonertron
On Tuesday 28 Oct 2014 7:25 AM
1
Games are a weird thing to review, and you really just have to leave it up to the reviewer to keep reviewing games like they have been. It's not like reviewing a Movie, CD or Book where there is one narrative.

I really don't like day 1 reviews for heavy online titles. Look at Drive Club/Sim City/BF4. Day 1 review would be positive because they probably were in a controlled environment in a lan setup or only the reviewers got access to the servers. But for the consumer they were disasters. Who got to experience them in a real life situation
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Tuesday 28 Oct 2014 7:46 AM
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28 October 2014, 07:25 AM Reply to Goonertron
Games are a weird thing to review, and you really just have to leave it up to the reviewer to keep reviewing games like they have been. It's not like reviewing a Movie, CD or Book where there is one narrative.

I really don't like day 1 reviews for heavy online titles. Look at Drive Club/Sim City/BF4. Day 1 review would be positive because they probably were in a controlled environment in a lan setup or only the reviewers got access to the servers. But for the consumer they were disasters. Who got to experience them in a real life situation
I couldn't agree more, but like with the Destiny example it was up the the reader to decide for themselves how valid the writers opinion is to themselves, especially as the review stated all the things they liked and didn't like. If you like things the reviewer didn't then that's fine but doesn't warrant the reaction it got from some people.
 
 
 
Posted by Romulus
On Tuesday 28 Oct 2014 12:37 PM
1
Another awesome blog! People seem to take it very personally if a reviewer says they don't like a game that they liked. Destiny was prime example of this, I couldn't understand how that review became so controversial!
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Tuesday 28 Oct 2014 1:10 PM
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28 October 2014, 12:37 PM Reply to Romulus
Another awesome blog! People seem to take it very personally if a reviewer says they don't like a game that they liked. Destiny was prime example of this, I couldn't understand how that review became so controversial!
Thanks Rom :) couldn't agree more.