Over the past few weeks, I’ve been noticing quite a few themes that have been making their way through the industry. Throughout GDC, many of these took center stage in a variety of forms. Today, we review the reviews.
I left this one for last, as I know it may very possibly be my most controversial topic. I know that I may be wrong in the text that lies ahead, and I know I and Ripten as a whole are guilty of some of what I’m about to discuss, but I still want to make my point.
Reviews shouldn’t come with points attached to them.
What do these points mean anymore? Most publications are now working off the 7-10 scale, meaning that all titles worth playing are within that range, and anything that lies below shouldn’t deserve to exist. If you’re going to use a scale, use it responsibly.
Don’t give a mediocre game a 6 and an average game a 7.5. The scale is there for a reason. Obviously, reviews are mostly subjective and there are always going to be some exceptions that have earned themselves a bit of wiggle room.
A thought that’s been making its way through my mind lately is the possibility of evolving reviews to the point that they’re exclusive to just audio or video.
Picture this: A reviewer is assigned a game. Said reviewer plays through the game as normal, except when it’s time for he or she to type the review, they instead throw on the podcast headsets and in essence review the game on-air with some of the staff, who offer questions that readers of that game may potentially have. Just an idea.
Should reviews eternally stay as text, it should be just that: text. Explain the merits, downfalls, and caveats. With, at most, a thumbs up or down.
I feel that that the review standard that we have now has to change, hopefully one that will render aggregators like Metacritic useless. They don’t really do much besides act as an e-penis, or measuring sticks for publishers. If the Metacritic score is not up to par, publishers can put pressure on reviewers to sell out their editorial integrity.
A lot of this came to light in a very big way in the aftermath of the unfortunate firing of Jeff Gerstmann from GameSpot.
Even if the GameSpot situation isn’t what we all portray it to be, it still begs the question — is it possible to function solely off non-endemic advertising or as a whole, is gaming journalism forever going to be tied to some sort of advertisment pertaining to the same subject matter?
Will reviewers ever be able to pan a game without getting a call from a publisher asking why their shit game got a 3.5?
I’d like to believe as much, but it’ll take an equal amount of maturation from us as the press and them as publishers so we may coexist with less friction.
A prime example is the way Ubisoft has blocked Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine from early access to games, over EGM’s less-than-favorable coverage.
It’s the publisher’s responsibility to realize that when they rush out a bug-ridden game with major flaws, just to meet a specified launch date, it may not end up getting such a favorable review.