6 Reasons Why I Hate Video Game Reviews

6 Reasons Why I Hate Video Game Reviews

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6. I get too angry writing them lately

So, if you didn’t think this was a rant yet, allow me to leave no doubt in your mind from here on out. I wasn’t kidding when I said that I’ve seen a lot of companies I used to be a fan of turn over to shifty practices just to make a quick extra buck. And for what? They can’t be putting it to use in their development or quality assurance. And the fact that a lot of these AAA developers have essentially become mediocre and the major media outlets still giving their patched-together “games” good reviews, there’s something to be said about accountability.

Let’s look at The Division, a game I had been drooling over since its announcement at E3 a few years back. If this was made by a lesser-known developer and they tried to release a game as broken as The Division, they would be buried by the Internet. So why do the larger companies that are supposedly “the best” like ActivisionUbisoft, and EA still deserve your loyalty — and your money?

When Ubisoft apologized for the shit show that was Assassin’s Creed: Unity, it won a little bit of my sympathy. Even in my critique of EA’s earlier decree about how hard making games is “when pushing innovation,” I defended the people on the floor actually making the games since I cannot believe in good conscience that someone can be passionate about making something and then only half-ass it. Gaming as a passion is wonderful; gaming as business, not so much.

Even one Ubi developer said this in their Unity apology: “At the same time, I do feel for the fans. We felt, somehow, that it didn’t meet their expectations. That’s disappointing as well, and that’s something that we can never take for granted as a developer.” So how does one explain The Division and all its nonsense but a year later? How are customers — loyal fans for who knows how long — supposed to believe you?

At present, The Division still manages to have an average critic score of 78 (out of 100) on Metacritic, but all that seems to be in the news is how the game’s broken since its launch last month:

And how does Ubisoft respond? Aside from excuses as to why these issues keep popping up in new and strange ways, they want to punish anyone who exploits the glitches. Mind you, these players aren’t hacking or trying to break the game; it’s just that broken. Citing terms and conditions and throwing the exploits into a category of cheating, players might even face permanent bans if found to be a repeat offender.

To make this more clear: a developer now makes and sells a broken game with highly advantageous and easy-to-exploit glitches and instead of humbling up, this same developer then threatens anyone who tries to exploit the glitches that they’ll then take that same game away from them? They then have you pay 60 bucks for a game that barely seems to function as intended and you aren’t even allowed to cope by playing the game as you see fit (sans hacking and other unsavory back-end modifications to give you — and only you — an unfair advantage). If things like infinite credits and damage weren’t intended features, why ship it as it is? I mean, the game was already pushed back not once, but twice. What was going on all this time if not ironing out problems in prep for launch?

Now what royally pisses me off is that none of you would tolerate some asshat teabagging you in [name your favorite FPS here]. Why people keep allowing themselves to be teabagged by these companies that don’t show any concern about them when it affects their waking lives and wallets astounds me. And from a writer’s standpoint, I feel it’s the obligation of a journalist to write with honesty and accountability. In fact, I expect people to act with honesty and accountability in general, but perhaps that belief is bordering on naïvety. We simply do not hold people and organizations accountable as we ought to, still following blindly and believing our loyalty and faith will pay off if we just wait long enough. But that kind of thinking not only is naive, it’s dangerous. Silence is consent, isn’t it?

Don’t misread me, however. I’m not calling for blood or rioting or strongly worded letters to politicians. Even with all the examples I’ve used here, I still feel for these companies. I don’t hate them. I just hate that I don’t know how they feel about me and the rest of their fans… or increasingly, fans-that-were.

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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.