Things that suck about game reviews

Scores out of 100

Who do reviewers think they’re kidding when they rate a game out of 100? Do they honestly feel that they’re able to distinguish between games down to individual percentage points? They can’t. Reviewing games is not a scientific process, so using such enormous scales is quite frankly ridiculous. All it does is give fodder to fanboys to argue that their chosen game is 1% better than another.

Score breakdowns

What is being suggested in a review when scores for Sound, Graphics, Gameplay etc. are given separately? That they all have equal weighting? That the reviewer understands the nebulous idea of ‘gameplay’, and is able to measure it? What the hell does ‘gameplay’ even mean? Even more laughable is when a Lastability category exists; playing a game for just a few days before reviewing it would only allow reviewers to make an educated guess surely. Time is the only judge of Lastability.

Metacritic/Gamerankings

They have simply become too powerful. By averaging the ratings of the biggest sites, they have managed to become the most trusted opinions on the web without having to write a single original word themselves! There is even talk of publishers applying pressure on gaming sites to score their games closer to the Metacritic/Gamerankings average, or what they guess the average will be. Self-fulfilling prophecy?

Advertising

Gaming sites make money from advertising the same games that they review. In an ideal world this wouldn’t be the case, but unless sites find an entirely new revenue model this will continue for the foreseeable future. What conclusions will publications draw from Gerstmann’s firing at Gamespot and their subsequent loss of credibility? That integrity should be kept at all costs, or that the pretense of integrity should be kept by being more discreet?

Review delays

By providing sites a copy of their game before its release date, publishers are able to enforce certain rules when it comes to reviews regarding their game. A common one is that if their game is to get an unfavorable score (under 75), than the review cannot be published until after the game has been released. It’s the reason why big budget games that get lukewarm receptions get reviewed much later than AAA critical darlings.

Reviewer dependency

It is entirely at a publishers discretion whether copies of their new game are provided early for review. Exclusive reviews often result in huge increases in traffic, especially if the game is highly anticipated. It’s clear what sort of behavior this encourages: consistently give high marks to a publisher’s games, and they will in turn reward your site with early copies of their games for review. It’s a win win situation…. unless you’re a gamer.

Reviews of casual games

Mario Kart for the Wii is due for release at the end of April and it arrives with yet another peripheral: the Wii Wheel. Just like the Wii Zapper, previews/reviews across the web have found it to be counter intuitive, so why exactly are Nintendo persisting with it? Because it performs its function perfectly, that’s why. It was never designed as an alternative for hardcore gamers to traditional controls, but as a way for people who have never enjoyed Mario Kart before to play and enjoy the game. Looked at in this context, the peripheral makes a lot more sense. Reviews for casual games have a long way to go.

Game reviewers

One of the fundamental assumptions a reader makes when reading a review is that the reviewer is able to properly assess a game’s merits. All too often this is not the case, even on some of the biggest sites on the web. Do movie critics limit themselves to films only from certain studios or genres? Then why do sites have people dedicated to individual consoles? In order to have a truly informed opinion, a reviewer must have exposure to more of the videogame industry than just one console.

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