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18. Re: etc., etc. Oct 12, 2012, 10:18 Beamer
ASeven wrote on Oct 11, 2012, 21:03:
Prez wrote on Oct 11, 2012, 20:39:
Every gaming reviews outlet gets accused of this. You have to figure it goes on at some level, but who knows if it is only here and there or if it's a widespread practice? PC Gamer reviews have seemed less glowy to me lately, but that could just be in my head. I do know that I generally like and agree with one of their oft-used freelance reviewers, Tom Chick, so I read them a lot. I get their mag delivered to my Kindle Fire every month.

But yeah that Dragon Age 2 review made me scratch Rich McCormick off of my list of trusted reviewers.

Here's one for us old ones. Back in the 80s two of the powerhouse magazines covering game reviews were Crash! and Zzap!64. The reviews were often honest and always brutal where needed be. Fast forward to the present where one of the past editors of Zzap!64 confessed some reviews were given higher marks due to "money pressure".

You have to think, if back where game reviewing was an infant business this practice was already rather common place then such practices could only have gotten more complex and more than likely more ingrained within the game journalism group to the point where I think it's believable that paid reviews are a strong possibility nowadays.

Well, it's actually harder now, as there are more watchdogs, more people involved, more disgruntled employees leaving, etc.

But as a whole it's engrained. There's no way around it. I've spelled it out a few times, but I'll go through it again:
Game review companies are supported almost exclusively by the people making the games. They get the games for free, they get flown out for previews, they get invited to industry events, they often leave reviewing and join game companies as developers (and this is a goal of many entering the industry), and virtually every single ad in a magazine or site is for a game.

Compare that to movies. Movies don't really have their own magazines or major sites, instead they're part of a different publication. Movie reviewers don't get flown to movies, their newspaper pays for it. They don't rely on movie ads, newspapers and magazines have vastly diversified revenue sources. You never hear about a movie reviewer going into the film industry. There are never advanced reviews, only day-of reviews, so it doesn't matter if a magazine reporter doesn't see a film until it comes out and, given that movies are 2.5 hours, a newspaper reviewer can always review the day after a movie opens (and often has to, as many aren't screened for critics), meaning that it's impossible for a movie company to blackball someone and prevent them from being meaningful in reviewing.

The game review industry is just too closely tied to the game industry, and there's no real way to separate that.
Net result: take reviews with a major grain of salt and don't pay attention to scores. I've said here a few dozen times that I very, very infrequently buy a game I do not enjoy (and the ones I have purchased and not enjoyed are darlings around here - just me following advice on indies I knew I probably wouldn't like to begin with but figured were worth a $10 risk.) Picking and choosing bad games from good is fairly easy. People start talking the day of release, and you can pay attention to that. And you can pay attention to the substance of reviews and see what they complain about (gameplay-wise, as they rarely mention technical issues) to see if it's something you know you'd complain about.

If you just use game reviews as loose guidelines - tools that you combine with other tools - you can still get a valid read on whether or not to buy something.
Music for the discerning:
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