Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
This may come as a surprise, but I hate video game reviews. I’m not a fan of reading them. I definitely don’t like writing them. If every major video game website, blog, and YouTube page took down their reviews, I wouldn’t even notice. I really… friggen… hate them. “But Tony, don’t you call yourself a game journalist? Doesn’t Start 2 Continue review games?” Well, sure, these are both true… but doing something because you want to and doing something because you feel/are compelled to are two different things. Reviewing games, that is. Not the writing part. Writing’s fun, obviously.
Honestly, wrestling with my feelings on why I hate video game reviews so much now has been a major barrier in keeping me from writing more. I get so overwhelmed trying to write a review for a new game — frequent post-release patches, oversaturation of competition, and limited access to copies prior to release to name a few pains in the ass — that I just get paralyzed. I want to write, but not if no one’s going to read it… not if what I write about doesn’t matter or will just become dated within a week. And when I say no one, I literally mean no one; out of all our content, the reviews seem to get the least attention.
That isn’t to say I don’t think myself incapable as a writer (the site gets some traffic after all). I just don’t want to get caught in this maelstrom of apathy that’s gripped the video game industry as of late. You know what I’m talking about: the broken games at release, the Day 1 DLC and content patching, shady journalism practices that have companies paying for favorable reviews, games being sold in episodes or seasons asking for full-price upfront for just a portion of the product. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting sick and tired of it. And in case you haven’t guessed, I have six reasons why:
1. The industry has changed
Now, I know I seem a bit jaded, but know that my nerd rage is well-intended. I’ve always been passionate about video games and everything that goes into them, reading monthly issues of PC Gamer and The Computer Gaming Magazine my dad subscribed to when I was a kid. I remember that crisp new issue smell, the excitement of trying out that month’s new game demos on the included disc, blissfully unaware of things like digital retailing, social media, and DLC as they… well… simply didn’t exist 15 years ago (or at least, to the capacity they do now).
But things have changed in that time: Steam has done to physical game retailers what TV and movie streaming has done to Blockbuster; what were once unlockable features have now been repackaged as paid-for downloadable content; and some games have built-in Facebook compatibility so you can let everyone know how little you actually leave the house. And before I get thrown under the bus as someone who just doesn’t like change, that’s a silly assertion. I’m pretty happy with a few things like Steam automatically keeping my games up-to-date or being able to just buy games online rather than accumulate a bunch of jewelcases and empty boxes. Oh, and flash sales where I can get games for a couple of dollars are probably one of my favorite things about 21st century gaming. Some change can be good. It’s when we’re oblivious to change that it starts to pose a problem.
Frankly, while the production and retailing sides of the game industry have changed dramatically over the years, how we write about and review games remains largely unchanged save for the actual medium we use to communicate (websites and videos rather than physical print). The lengthy analyses that spanned numerous pages in magazines simply fail to appeal to the short attention span of most Internet users today. Of course, that’s not including competing with other sources of information like wikis dedicated to the lore and story universe of various game franchises, discussion boards, and social media tailored to each user’s interests.
Like anything in existence, video game reviews and journalism as a whole have to adapt to the new challenges and factors that arise with time. Failure to do so will eventually render these things irrelevant, their passing as apathetic as they was treated in their final moments. I don’t know about you, but I personally like writing about games. I just don’t remember when it got so difficult to be enthusiastic about it.