6 Reasons Why I Hate Video Game Reviews

6 Reasons Why I Hate Video Game Reviews

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3. Reviews and game journalism ain’t what it used to be

While we’re on the topic of Steam, I usually favor their consumer reviews over official news site reviews in order to gather information. Given how much the industry and games themselves change, it’s hard to find reviews that are relevant if you want to buy the game sometime after its release. The most relevant and helpful Steam reviews often float to the top, having been voted in agreement (or dismissal) by their fellow gamers and paying customers. And I’m not the only one who shies away from the bigger outlets when it comes to making my buying decisions either.

A recent study from the Entertainment Software Association shows that reviews only account for 3% of the influencing factors in deciding whether someone will purchase a video game. An interesting story or premise comes in first at 22%, with price (15%), word of mouth (11%), and the product being a continuation of a favorite series (10%) forming up over half. As the findings suggest, “the authority and reputation of game journalists is at an all-time low” and that’s something I, as a game journalist, am upset by. Not the lack of authority, but the lack of trust and the lack of attempts to earn it from one’s readers.

Personally, I trust the masses when it comes to whether or not a game is worth playing or buying because they’re customers like me. They have money on the line, just as we do as individuals. The “average joe” doesn’t have incentive to try and sell me a game. Websites and some of their advertising practices are making me wonder what exactly their incentive is to write some of the reviews they do.

Which brings us to my next point…

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Anthony Magestro

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.

  • Dec

    The bit that really stuck out to me from this was your desire to focus on experience a game rather than viewing it as a product. This strikes a chord because when I browse game forums or listen to podcasts etc I see this massive focus on the games industry rather than the games itself. I love reading about games,but I am totally uninterested in how many units have been shipped, or which studio has bought who.

    I get this with movies as well actually, there is a whole ecosystem of mutually reliant “content-producers” of all kinds who need to have a constant supply of things to discuss, share, blog about in order to network/ promote/ maintain a public profile. This leads them to the easiest source of content which is reporting or sharing press releases. This feeds into “hype culture” which in turn makes studios more complacent about quality because if they can build enough hype people will buy the game / go see the movie on release anyway. This also means I have to sift through a ton of boring crap to find something actually interesting that relates in anyway to the fun experience that this media is supposed to be all about.

    • I think a lot of this comes from social media and the need to follow the hype train in exchange for ad revenue (i.e. YouTube and Twitch reviews, websites making ad deals with developers, etc.). At this point, it’s a lot less about analyzing the game on why it’s good (or not), but just trying to push products or — if there aren’t any economic reasons — bashing them. Albeit, a gross simplification, but still, at least from a writing perspective, writing about games as experiences rather than just products to be sold is much more fun and fulfilling to me. With so many aggregates available like Metacritic and Steam that let people know whether or not a game’s worth buying, it doesn’t make sense for me to write a long review that’ll just become obsolete in five days because fifty hotfixes were released in that time, making most of my technical points moot.

      So with that, I try to then write more about the specific parts of games: a quest that stuck out or a mechanic that I liked or ways to tie a lesson learned in game to real-life problems. Shit you’re not gonna find in a review written by a fanboy on Steam or a video from a paid reviewer who’s obligated to provide lip service.