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Opinion [WaPo] The videogame review system is broken. It's bad for readers, writers and games.

cormack12

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Source (1 free article): https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2021/10/12/video-game-reviews-bad-system/

What’s the point of a review? No less than to answer the weighty question of how people ought to spend their limited time on this Earth.

That’s some task, and different reviewers approach it in different ways, though in writing about video games there are two main schools of thought. Some writers attempt to give readers a broad picture, weighing a title’s gameplay, story, stability, features — or lack thereof — and the number of hours a player could foreseeably invest in the game. (Here we return to the language of spending time.) Others endeavor to enlighten readers, unlocking new or instructive ways to understand a game. But both of these approaches are hurt by the way video game reviews are done these days.

In advance of a game’s release, media outlets are usually granted early access to the title alongside an embargo agreement, which, if agreed to, specifies when an outlet can publish its coverage. Embargoes can also delineate what details are off limits; some developers, for example, will request that plot twists and endgame content be kept out of reviews.

I played 25 hours of “Far Cry 6” in the six days between receiving the game and the embargo lifting. In that time, I cleared roughly a third of the game’s map, though that likely amounts to less than a third of the game’s story.[...] In other words, I played the game the way any normal person would — and as a result, had nowhere near enough experience to evaluate the game fully at the specified time the embargo lifted.

As a result, the overwhelming majority of video game reviews are written in a burst, immediately following a marathon session with the game. For every prestige, 5,000-word review that lands a week after a game’s release, 25 more are cobbled together in a frenzy with the goal of hitting the embargo date, which is the same for every outlet. Vanishingly few reviewers command an audience that will treat their work as appointment reading. As such, most writers are at the mercy of Google’s search engine, and time their work to the peaks at which people are seeking out reviews. Take an extra day to polish your prose, and you’ve given up pageviews to your competitors. Google’s search engine takes a lot of factors into account, but I doubt it has any perspective on the artfulness of a much-agonized-over introductory paragraph. The system rewards speed.

Does that approach benefit anyone? A cynical reader might say it serves a game’s PR apparatus. In some cases, this compressed schedule leaves reviewers with too rosy an outlook on a title — especially titles that have the benefit of polish, or whose astonishing qualities require little unpacking. But everyone else ends up worse off. The current regime is bad for writers crunching under a deadline, not to mention the harassment they might face if they get something wrong. It’s bad for readers, too, if the reviews they turn to are written by someone playing at a completely different pace, whose objective is to get through the game rather than to enjoy it.

So what of games? Surely compressing an experience that most players will have over the course of several weeks and even months into three days — tied to a looming deadline, no less — will change the valence of the experience. The levels in “Deathloop” are artfully constructed references to specific time periods and historic trends. But as I sped through the title, I didn’t have the opportunity to consider those finer details — adding another point of frustration. So, was the game well served by its roughly three-day review period? The profile of a default gamer is a person in their 30s or 40s who buys two or three games each year, into which they sink innumerable hours. Is that reader well served by a review written under the conditions outlined above?

But interest peaks around a game’s release, which traditionally comes a day or two after reviews drop. You might write the most thoughtful, measured evaluation of a game. If the review arrives past that peak in search interest, though, it risks finding virtually no readership. In journalism, the answer to the thought experiment about whether a tree falling in a forest makes a sound if nobody is around to hear it is a resounding, “No.” Is there a good reason for the system currently in place? I’ve never seen one given.

The system in place is bad for reviewers. It’s bad for readers. And it’s bad for games. In college, an art professor of mine remarked during a museum tour that one could conceivably spend an entire day considering just one work of art. Critics and casual observers alike have argued for decades that games are, in fact, art. But more than that, games are vast museums. Every in-game vista, narrative and mechanic is the work of one or many artists — and each is potentially worthy of examination on those terms.

Now, imagine speedrunning a museum visit, and being asked afterward to explain the merits of the gallery’s collection. Does it seem like what we’re doing is sensible?
 

cormack12

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WaPo sounds like a celebrity couple name.

 

Abriael_GN

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No one forces any outlet to post a review exactly at embargo lift.

That's what they WANT to do, so it's their approach that's broken, not the system.

This writer should likely direct his complaints to his employer if he feels rushed, not to a "system" that no one forces on his outlet.


Also lol @ hyper-politicized mainstream media like the Washington Post thinking they have anywhere near the expertise required to competently review video games, in 25 hours o 25,000. The problem isn't the "system" here. 😂
 
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Bulletbrain

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^Not entirely true imo. Outlets are forced by the market dynamics. Video game sales are now heavily front loaded. Most people interested in a game will buy it at launch. So they need information fast. Review outlets are businesses. They need the clicks. When the market wants fast information, and when the competition puts out fast information, one has to keep up.

On the broader issue raised by the OP. No review is ever exhaustive. That's just not feasible. It's based on a limited exposure to a game. I mean, does a car reviewer use a given car for 5 years before putting out a review? No. They will use it for a weekend, or maybe a week. Writers should embrace the fact that they can't put out a exhaustive review, and readers should also have the same expectation. Reviews are just a subjective opinion and should just conclude whether a game is worth buying or not. Just mention the hours played and completion so that readers know.
 

Shubh_C63

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This could be said for music reviews too. Also reviewes are not thesis, they are first impressions to help you decide.

And frankly if you play 1-2 game an year, your bar for quality is little lower in comparison and probably the score or metacritic rating should be enough for you for your genre. If you are an avid gamer, then there are your outlet scores, metascores as well as private Youtube reviewers that get populated within a week.

I don't think this is a new 2021 problem or something that can be tackled anyway. There is always enough evidence present to make a smart decision.
 

Abriael_GN

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^Not entirely true imo. Outlets are forced by the market dynamics.

Outlets WANT to follow market dynamics. No one forces you. You want more clicks, and make a choice to get them. It's still a choice.

There certainly are outlets that don't force their writers to post a review at embargo drop or not even at release. I haven't heard about any of them going under or anything like that, so there is no "forcing." The only "forcing" is done by the outlets themselves to their writers.
 
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TonyK

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Totally agree with that article. But at the same time, it seems almost impossible to change due to the same reasons exposed: if you take your time to do a proper review, closer to what regular gaming is, not a forced speedrun, then you fall outside of the search algorithm, and then the review itself becomes pointless for the site,
 

Bulletbrain

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Outlets WANT to follow market dynamics. No one forces you. You want more clicks, and make a choice to get them. It's still a choice.

There certainly are outlets that don't force their writers to post a review at embargo drop or not even at release. I haven't heard about any of them going under or anything like that, so there is no "forcing." The only "forcing" is done by the outlets themselves to their writers.
That's easy enough to say, but most of these outlets are businesses. The purpose of those businesses is to make money. When something is a matter of survival, it becomes a driving force.
 
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Abriael_GN

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That's easy enough to say, but most of these outlets are businesses. The purpose of those businesses is to make money. When something is a matter of survival, it becomes a driving force.

All outlets are businesses. There are other businesses that are ok with making less money in favor of giving their writers better work conditions and making their reviews more meaningful. Like it or not, it's still a choice.

The Washington Post will most definitely not go out of business if its video game reviews (which aren't great or all that relevant by any stretch of the imagination anyway) are published a few days later. This is just a fact.

Do you want some more clicks? That's your choice and a legitimate choice, but don't blame the system if you gotta make compromises to get em.
 
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STARSBarry

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I think what's more damaging is the fact a review score goes from 1-10 and yet we only see 7-10 used frequently...

Most games are "average" so they should he a 5, yet all we get is a sea of 8/10 for average titles...

Unless your Deathloop then despite being average you get 9/10.
 
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WitchHunter

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State in the review:

- Someone pushed an ak47 to my temple,
- meanwhile rats were honing their claws and infighting ensued for every sweat dropped on the floor,
- my balls were attached to a high amp transformer and pr guys from the publisher were upping the current in random intervals.

So everyone will understand the context.
 

Abriael_GN

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I think what's more damaging is the fact a review score goes from 1-10 and yet we only see 7-10 used frequently...

Most games are "average" so they should he a 5, yer all we see is a sea of 8/10 for average titles...

Unless your Deathloop then despite being average you get 9/10.

It really depends on what grading scale you're using. 0/10 is often based on school grades in Europe, where 6 means "Sufficient" anything under it is a varying level of bad.

If you get a 5 according to that scale, it actually means that the game is pretty bad, as it's below the sufficient score. That skews the scale a bit toward higher numbers. Using a pure mathematical average would likely confuse a lot of people who are used to the school grades when they were kids.
 
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nemiroff

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I think what's more damaging is the fact a review score goes from 1-10 and yet we only see 7-10 used frequently...

Most games are "average" so they should he a 5, yer all we see is a sea of 8/10 for average titles...

Unless your Deathloop then despite being average you get 9/10.

Sorry for the analogy, but if f.ex. my employer evaluated my performance at work to be a 5 out of 10 because I'm "average" among other excellent employees (! :))) it sort-of wouldn't give me the correct feedback.. I mean, so I moved to another site I could suddenly be 10 out of 10 because everyone else was shitty? Nah, comparisons are fine but mostly for making decisions choosing between products. I want to know the score of what kind of raw emotion (well, within reason..) it gave the reviewer, I don't necessarily want the score to reflect how it compares to other things, which could be an optional (but still important) side note.
 
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Kev Kev

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I hate review culture. Mostly because people use it to say “see it’s a good game” when there are plenty of games with good reviews that we all think are shit. I don’t trust other people to judge a game experience for me. Especially for big AAA titles.

Stop listening to/relying on reviews and judge the game for yourself
 

kyliethicc

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I think what's more damaging is the fact a review score goes from 1-10 and yet we only see 7-10 used frequently...

Most games are "average" so they should he a 5, yet all we get is a sea of 8/10 for average titles...

Unless your Deathloop then despite being average you get 9/10.
Yup. That's why the actual useful review scales are out of 3, 4, or 5 max.

1-3, 1-4, or 1-5 actually forces reviews to use the entire scale. Instead of 1-10 or 1-100, etc.
 

Clear

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Most games are "average" so they should he a 5, yet all we get is a sea of 8/10 for average titles...

This makes no sense. Zero. None. Nil.

Average based on what exactly? What's the context?

Games that week? That year? That generation? The entire history of videogames? What's considered average isn't static, its a determination made amongst a certain class or peer-group. So if that aggregation changes, what's considered average also changes.

How do you judge improvement or decline over time? Does everything need to re-evaluated and re-rated when a new high comes along or expectations change?

Sorry, but this whole line of thought is based on fallacy. There is no meaning in lowering individual ratings because the value of the number has to be relative to something. If in 2022 every reviewer decided to score way more strictly, the class of that year would superficially seem to be of lower quality than that of 2021 in a historical and/or meta-analytic context. But it wouldn't be helpful in any way; not as consumer advocacy, not as historic documentation... all it'd do is change a number.
 
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CeeJay

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That's an interesting piece that gives a reviewer's opinion on the current review situation. From a gamers point of view too it is definitely broken. The current system is not really working for anyone except maybe the likes of Metacritic and the big publishers. What we never seem to see though are anyone coming up with decent solutions...

It's ironic that the systems we had more than 20 years worked so much better even though we all felt as readers like we were in the dark most of the time. The cloak of secrecy around the games industry was easier to maintain before the internet existed and pretty much all the information that came out had to be funnelled through the games magazines. The magazines at the time had a lot of influence on that market and the publishers selling the games had to keep them sweet and maintain good relations with them to hopefully gain positive reviews. This meant that the best magazines got earlier and deeper access to games and got more time to formulate those opinions from previews and then into reviews. You always got the feeling as a reader that the reviewers really got to spend a lot of time with the games and understood deeply what was good and what was not so good. Fast forward to now and it's more of a dog eat dog free for all amongst reviewers with the publishers having all the power. The truth of the matter is that the whole review system is fucked up beyond repair and as easy as it is to complain about it there are rarely any solutions proposed to fix it. Possibly the situation is so far gone that it's irreparable and increasingly irrelevant at this point. We all find our own way to validate our purchases and choice of the games we play, for me I usually wait 6 to 12 months after a game has been released to see what the long term general consensus is before thinking about buying. This also has the added bonus of cheaper prices. I am older, wiser and a lot more patient than many gamers and I can fully understand someone buying into the hype of the latest AAA blockbuster like I used to in my 20s. Over time the greatest games will rise to stand out from the crowd and it's this metric that I use to determine where I spend my own time, unfortunately this requires a lot of people to get suckered in at launch so is not a good solution for everyone.
 

Gameplaylover

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They should stop giving games numbers. There should be something like Metacritic, but just as a combined Pros and Cons List from all reviews.
 
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supernova8

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^Not entirely true imo. Outlets are forced by the market dynamics. Video game sales are now heavily front loaded. Most people interested in a game will buy it at launch. So they need information fast. Review outlets are businesses. They need the clicks. When the market wants fast information, and when the competition puts out fast information, one has to keep up.

On the broader issue raised by the OP. No review is ever exhaustive. That's just not feasible. It's based on a limited exposure to a game. I mean, does a car reviewer use a given car for 5 years before putting out a review? No. They will use it for a weekend, or maybe a week. Writers should embrace the fact that they can't put out a exhaustive review, and readers should also have the same expectation. Reviews are just a subjective opinion and should just conclude whether a game is worth buying or not. Just mention the hours played and completion so that readers know.

I honestly wonder how many people really read reviews at all though. My brother is the typical "mainstream" gamer. He buys all of the Call of Dutys, all of the Battlefields, all of the FIFAs, all of the Far Crys. I'm pretty sure he doesn't frequent sites like Gamespot, IGN etc. etc. (and certainly not the more niche ones).
 

Bragr

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For as much as people complain about a broken system, what exactly are you suggesting different? what model is supposed to be good (and realistic)?

I'm actually surprised how much game reviews help. If they weren't around, I would be stuck with a lot more mediocre games. At least it's not as bad as music reviews.
 

Bragr

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They should stop giving games numbers. There should be something like Metacritic, but just as a combined Pros and Cons List from all reviews.
I hate this stuff, the sites that have adopted that stance are a mess and it's hard to gauge exactly how they feel. I read Eurogamer in the past, but their new no-number system makes it hard to gauge their value of the game when they aren't willing to measure it apart from words. It's like when people make game of the year lists but refuse to number them, why even do it at that point.
 

Gameplaylover

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I hate this stuff, the sites that have adopted that stance are a mess and it's hard to gauge exactly how they feel. I read Eurogamer in the past, but their new no-number system makes it hard to gauge their value of the game when they aren't willing to measure it apart from words. It's like when people make game of the year lists but refuse to number them, why even do it at that point.
Who cares how the reviewers feel? Mostly i don't even know if they are fans of the genre or hate it. Pros and Cons tell me if there is something that i like or can't live with, a 75/100 actually tells me nothing.
 

Bragr

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Who cares how the reviewers feel? Mostly i don't even know if they are fans of the genre or hate it. Pros and Cons tell me if there is something that i like or can't live with, a 75/100 actually tells me nothing.
That's your problem, 75 tells me I have to look into it more, while most of the time a 90+ game is great. There are still pros and cons in most reviews. Genres shouldn't matter. A good game is a good game.
 

Nankatsu

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And that's why I barely read any reviews these days.

Even the youtube ones have become more unwatchable in my opinion. The only one's I watch from time to time are the Easy Allies ones.

At best I try to play a demo, fancy some trailers and jump in, in case I see myself investing time in one specific game.
 
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NeoIkaruGAF

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This is something we all knew. And the reason why scores are ultimately useless, because they’re unreliable.

AAA games tend to get longer and longer because their price has to be “justified”, if anything, by their sheer amount of content. Meanwhile, reviewers have little time to play the game before launch. Therefore, many reviews of AAA games can’t possibly be objective, because it’s simply impossible for the reviewer to see most of the content before the embargo lifts. Add to this the reviewer’s/outlet’s persona and their expected audience, maybe even some pressure from the publishers, and of course the usual suspects rake in the 10/10s while very good games can’t hope for more than an ”average” score, making MC and the like - as everyone should know already - completely and utterly meaningless. But those scores are prime console war fuel, so of course people lap them up. Then the usual YT “influencers” get in with their LTTP videos saying “The game everyone liked is totally not a 10/10, here’s why”, adding more fuel to the fire.

There is no solution to this, except ignore reviews and scores. No big outlet can afford not being there with a review the minute embargo lifts. Our ultra-fast society can’t allow for it.
 
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Portugeezer

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Outlets WANT to follow market dynamics. No one forces you. You want more clicks, and make a choice to get them. It's still a choice.

There certainly are outlets that don't force their writers to post a review at embargo drop or not even at release. I haven't heard about any of them going under or anything like that, so there is no "forcing." The only "forcing" is done by the outlets themselves to their writers.
Semantics.

Sure the reviewer is not literally "forced", but if they don't meet the embargo deadlines then they won't be chosen to review many more games in the future. A big publication will try to be there when embargo lifts because that is what the market dictates. If you as the reviewer can't do that then you'll be left behind.

If I had a game site and got early codes for big games I would be there the day embargo lifts, no fucking doubt. It would be silly not to. Anything else is a bad business move for the sake of a more accurate review which would get fewer views (which sucks but it is what it is).

Hey honey, site traffic and revenue was down but at least my reviews were more accurate.
 
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Cyberpunkd

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No one forces any outlet to post a review exactly at embargo lift.

That's what they WANT to do, so it's their approach that's broken, not the system.
Have you read even the OP? The article clearly states that the current content curation system of Google and corresponding position in search results doesn’t give you the chance to post after the embargo day, otherwise you are massively punished by the algorithm.

Another interesting point is that we do not have Roger Ebert of videogames.
 
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DGrayson

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I only trust reviews from GAF TBH, and some Steam reviews.

All commercial reviews are the same. Besides the issue that they have to produce the review so quickly to get the clicks and views which means they didnt really play the game, they are usually on a 10 point system with anything below 7 being absolute shit. It makes no sense. A 10 point system means that a 5 woudl be an average game that you woudl actually recommend to some people who may be interested in teh genre or story etc. But with commercial reviews, a 5 is rarely given or it means the game is shit.
 

Guilty_AI

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I'd say the root issue here is the culture around release hype cycles big publishers created for games.
It takes a page from cinema, except it just doesn't fit as well given the complete different nature of each medium.
 

JCK75

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Personally I feel like Activisism on both sides has driven both game and movie reviews to place you simply cannot trust. If something is very woke and those on the right are bashing that the reviewers will boost it like mad, then you have something like Shang Chi which was actually quite good but right leaning Youtubers just crapped all over it and rooted for it's failure before actually watching it just assuming it would be a woke mess...
 

Abriael_GN

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Have you read even the OP? The article clearly states that the current content curation system of Google and corresponding position in search results doesn’t give you the chance to post after the embargo day, otherwise you are massively punished by the algorithm.

Again, bending over twice to please the algorithm and being slaves to maximum revenue at the expense of all else is a choice.

An article from a rando writing for a mainstream site "clearly stating" something doesn't make it the Holy Bible.

There absolutely are outlets that post their reviews past embargo day and at times even past release day. This is a fact that cannot be denied. If those survive, so can the Washington Post. If they make the choice to aim for maximum revenue at the expense of the quality of their articles, no one is holding them at gunpoint. This really isn't rocket science.
 
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Ozriel

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Outlets WANT to follow market dynamics. No one forces you. You want more clicks, and make a choice to get them. It's still a choice.

There certainly are outlets that don't force their writers to post a review at embargo drop or not even at release. I haven't heard about any of them going under or anything like that, so there is no "forcing." The only "forcing" is done by the outlets themselves to their writers.

The article addresses this. There are bigger outlets that can take this decision. Or YouTube channels that have a large number of subscribers that will always watch their content.
Smaller outlets that need the engagement can’t afford to post their reviews after the embargoes

one of the obvious solutions would be for developers/publishers to get their games across to reviewers well before the embargo to give the reviewers time to play the games at a reasonable pace. But here you are, determined to lay all the blames on the reviewers.
 
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Abriael_GN

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The article addresses this. There are bigger outlets that can take this decision. Or YouTube channels that have a large number of subscribers that will always watch their content.
Smaller outlets that need the engagement can’t afford to post their reviews after the embargoes

Are you seriously calling the Washington Post a "smaller outlet?" The fact that their videogame coverage is downright irrelevant doesn't make them small. They have resources that 99% of specialized video game websites can only dream of. They can literally afford to make people pay a subscription to read their stuff. LOL. Poor kids oppressed by the Algorhythm 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

Also, this is a false and completely dishonest point. A LOT of smaller outlets post their reviews after embargo day, so obviously they can afford it. Does it give them maximum revenue? No. But that's where the choice comes into play. Balancing between quality and revenue is a normal requirement in most businesses.

one of the obvious solutions would be for developers/publishers to get their games across to reviewers well before the embargo to give the reviewers time to play the games at a reasonable pace. But here you are, determined to lay all the blames on the reviewers.

No. I lay the blame on reviewers that are already part of a massively privileged subset (like the Washington Post is) compared to the wider gaming press, and yet dare to whine. You mention smaller outlets, but this dude's problems are nothing compared to those faced by people writing for actual smaller outlets.

Most publishers already provide their titles with plenty of advance time, compatibly with the fact that doing it too early isn't optimal because there are day one patches and an increased risk of leaks.
 
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Notabueno

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I thought it would be relevant criticism of video game reviewing, instead it's a totally contradictory criticism of an actual reviewers or curators necessary skill: to be able to start judging accurately after barely a few minutes, if not even the trailers and gameplay reveal, what is the overall worth of a game.

This article is literally saying this "reviewer" doesn't know how to do his job. If 25 hours in you're not capable of emitting a sound, deconstructed analysis of the game's objective worth, the problem is elsewhere...
 
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Ozriel

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Are you seriously calling the Washington Post a "smaller outlet?" The fact that their videogame coverage is downright irrelevant doesn't make them small. They have resources that 99% of specialized video game websites can only dream of. They can literally afford to make people pay a subscription to read their stuff. LOL. Poor kids oppressed by the Algorhythm 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

Also, this is a false and completely dishonest point. A LOT of smaller outlets post their reviews after embargo day, so obviously they can afford it. Does it give them maximum revenue? No. But that's where the choice comes into play. Balancing between quality and revenue is a normal requirement in most businesses.

Me: “Smaller outlets (that rely on pageclicks to survive ) cannot afford to post their reviews much later than others”

You: “LOLZ, you called Washington post a small outlet”

Either subpar comprehension skills, or alcohol.

You’re also yet to post examples of these smaller outlets that take their time to leisurely post reviews days or weeks post release.
 
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Ozriel

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I thought it would be relevant criticism of video game reviewing, instead it's a totally contradictory criticism of an actual reviewers or curators necessary skill: to be able to start judging accurately after barely a few minutes, if not even the trailers and gameplay reveal, what is the overall worth of a game.

This article is literally saying this "reviewer" doesn't know how to do his job. If 25 hours in you're not capable of emitting a sound, deconstructed analysis of the game's objective worth, the problem is elsewhere...

25 hours is more than enough time to give you a full opinion of 10 hr games like Kena or Miles Morales or Psychonauts 2. It’s even enough to analyze stuff like Gran Turismo or Forza Motorspor

Many people won’t have beat AC Valhalla in 25 hours. Or covered more than 70% of the game’s content.

It’ll vary, depending on the game in question
 

Phase

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Is a game bad? 7/10. Is it good? 8/10. Did you pay us? Add +1 or +2 to your score.

That's our current review system.
 
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SaltyBeagle

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Reviews are fucking pointless and sometimes damaging. We probably won't get Days Gone 2 because Gamespot gave it a poor review due to the lack of racially diverse zombies.
 

BbMajor7th

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Jan 8, 2021
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Again, bending over twice to please the algorithm and being slaves to maximum revenue at the expense of all else is a choice.

An article from a rando writing for a mainstream site "clearly stating" something doesn't make it the Holy Bible.

There absolutely are outlets that post their reviews past embargo day and at times even past release day. This is a fact that cannot be denied. If those survive, so can the Washington Post. If they make the choice to aim for maximum revenue at the expense of the quality of their articles, no one is holding them at gunpoint. This really isn't rocket science.

I work in digital content and have done for decades. The way these companies are making money is via ad revenue, measured mostly by impressions and you capture that through a robust content strategy. In the case of product reviews, which are considered flow content (meaning it has a short performance window), you need to release the review at the time of maximum relevance to get a reasonable number of page views. If it doesn't hit the metrics, you - the reviewer - are costing the company money. Now, if you're a big enough personality with a big enough following, you can probably afford to review a game when you want and still net a decent audience, but that's not most jobbing, unknown reviewers. They'll need to hit the strategic release window, do plenty of leg work on the SEO front and probably get shit load of backlink equity from places like Metacritic and Reddit. This won't happen if you're turning up two or three weeks late to the show, no matter how well-written or thorough-going that review is.

The model and the system is undoubtedly broken and I wouldn't be able to venture a simple or straightforward fix, but everything in the OP is perfectly rational. Pretending that him doing what he has to ensure that he still has a job in six months is merely a choice he's making and not in fact a basic reality that most of us face isn't.
 
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Chiggs

Gold Member
Jan 20, 2005
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George Carlin was famous for saying he was "Catholic until the age of reason." Same thing applies to video game reviews.

If you're over 25 and still take mainstream gaming reviews seriously, I'm sorry, but your head is up your ass.
 
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Abriael_GN

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Feb 26, 2019
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I work in digital content and have done for decades. The way these companies are making money is via ad revenue, measured mostly by impressions and you capture that through a robust content strategy. In the case of product reviews, which are considered flow content (meaning it has a short performance window), you need to release the review at the time of maximum relevance to get a reasonable number of page views. If it doesn't hit the metrics, you - the reviewer - are costing the company money. Now, if you're a big enough personality with a big enough following, you can probably afford to review a game when you want and still net a decent audience, but that's not most jobbing, unknown reviewers. They'll need to hit the strategic release window, do plenty of leg work on the SEO front and probably get shit load of backlink equity from places like Metacritic and Reddit. This won't happen if you're turning up two or three weeks late to the show, no matter how well-written or thorough-going that review is.

The model and the system is undoubtedly broken and I wouldn't be able to venture a simple or straightforward fix, but everything in the OP is perfectly rational. Pretending that him doing what he has to ensure that he still has a job in six months is merely a choice he's making and not in fact a basic reality that most of us face isn't.

The fact that there are plenty of outlets that post reviews after embargo time is simply a fact. And no, you don't need to be a "big personality with a big following." Plenty of smaller outlets do. As I mentioned before, balancing quality against revenue at all costs is a choice pretty much all businesses have to do, and not all businesses skew that choice all the way toward the latter. This is also simply a fact.

The ones making the choice of bending over twice to fulfill the conditions you describe and aim for maximum revenue at the expense of quality (and it certainly shows) are the writer's EIC, Reviews Editor, and those above them, who decide the review policy. The writer is the one making the choice to work for them, effectively accepting said review policy.

If he wants to have more time to do his reviews, he should either complain to those who make the review policy at his own outlet, or simply work for one of the many outlets that allow reviews posted later. They exist.

Whining about the "system" when you make the choice to accept the conditions you're whining about (and you have alternatives) is ludicrous.
 
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GymWolf

Member
Jun 11, 2019
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I thought it would be relevant criticism of video game reviewing, instead it's a totally contradictory criticism of an actual reviewers or curators necessary skill: to be able to start judging accurately after barely a few minutes, if not even the trailers and gameplay reveal, what is the overall worth of a game.

This article is literally saying this "reviewer" doesn't know how to do his job. If 25 hours in you're not capable of emitting a sound, deconstructed analysis of the game's objective worth, the problem is elsewhere...
Dude, they gave shitty scores to many many games because they were bored by the formula...this doesn't happen when you finish an open world game in 2-3 weeks instead of 2 days or when you play 50 open world in a month for job instead of 1-2 for passion...

This stuff completely fuck up your judgement because normal players don't play like journalists...

It's not a matter of how many hours but how you use those hours...