Let’s talk about reviews- Why publishers exclusivity is a bad thing

Now I would never suggest that reviews go away. I write some reviews myself. Damn good ones too. The problem I want to talk about today is reviews and the ideas behind them and what we prefer. You see there are two main schools of thought with reviews. You have the big sites like IGN or Gamespot and their entire mantra is views and Ad revenue. Then you have something akin to my school of thought which is to offer a review with my opinion and personality. Maybe it’s humorous, maybe it’s just filled with my personality, the point is it’s not for the money.

For sites such as IGN everything is about timeliness. They want the reviews up as soon as possible and have to worry about NDA’s or embargos. For someone like myself I honestly don’t care when my review goes up, I want my audience to follow me for my content, not my ability to pump out reviews. So that got me to thinking, what is the better method, and why do we read reviews?

(We’ve heard you several times, we get it…you know what you’re talking about)

Do you read a review for the score at the end? Sure we want to know if a game is any good or not, but with a score doesn’t that just encourage you to scroll straight to the bottom and get that number and instantly be satisfied? Personally I find myself doing this on most big game sites reviews and this is because most of those reviews are lacking personality. I just want to know if they enjoyed the game, not them explaining mechanics of the game to me. It’s a fine line they have to walk. Big game sites need to be impartial and professional, but at the same time they seem to lose interest that way.

This brings up a bigger problem though and that is in the way of gaming publishers. Now if you didn’t know, video game review sites typically get their games for free. Not me, I pay for every stinking one. This brings up an interesting argument though, in that some publishers are renowned for only giving their games away to writers who are going to post positive things about those games. Look at most sites and their previews of games and you won’t see any real amount of negativity. You may see one or two concerns, but most are extremely positive. Just read any big news outlets previews of any game that has released to less than stellar scores.

(Most previews of this said it was going to change the gaming industry forever….wrong)

Look at Kotaku, Games Radar + or even IGN. The previews are optimistic about the game and only point out a few small flaws or concerns. Here we see the bane of the issue, you talk crap about their games, you lose coverage, you lose your website. These bigger sites are at the mercy of publishers and their ability to give them coverage. We have seen this even start to decay and change with the way that Bethesda now handles game reviews. No more early copies, everyone is on the same page. So what are they to do? Big sites have to put their positive spins on early impressions to keep their livelihoods. And then there are people like me in the world.

(Talk crap, get silenced)

Instead of just spouting whatever non-sense dribble the sites are selling you, we just say what we want. We have no funding coming from Konami or Ubisoft, in fact I would rather show you what is wrong with them, then talk about the positive aspects of their games. Look you can find positive parts of almost any game, it takes a critic to realize that sometimes the positives don’t outweigh those negatives. So what is the better review policy? Personally I prefer to read or listen and see if someone actually enjoyed the game. I don’t care if some mechanics are dodgy, sure I would like to know if the game actually runs. I don’t care however if when I’m flying in my  game it is a little jarring.

Game reviews shouldn’t be about when the most views can happen. IGN even went so far as to write an article talking about Bethesda and how they hated their new policy on sending out games early. As if they have any right to request or blame Bethesda on giving away their product. Here’s the thing big websites of the world, you don’t have a right to any of this. Gamers are better educated than ever before and as a result you aren’t our sole crutch. I have many friends and personal acquaintances that don’t buy games day one. So guess what, they wait until their favorite personality reviews it and then they get all they need to know about the game.

So why do we need you? Why do we need these big gaming sites? The answer is you don’t. You don’t need them. We have kept them along because they work alongside the big companies and they get exclusive stories. “Find out about the new CoD WWII Shooter tomorrow on our site!” Of course Activision is going to give it to a big site and give away exclusive stories, it only helps Activision and doesn’t cost them a penny. Why would they ask a personality when they know they will get chastised because they don’t owe their existence to Activision.

(You’re not going to see me streaming any reveals anytime soon, who cares)

That’s why reviews are so polarizing now. You have to find an individual or identity that you personally follow and trust. Why follow IGN when they are going to pussyfoot around the real issues with a game, whereas myself will just tear it apart for what’s wrong. I don’t owe any of sites existence to any publisher or developer. If they want to have me show off content will I? Yeah, but don’t expect me to be anyone but myself. This site doesn’t have AD’s and I’m not about to start advertising or lying to anyone that reads my content. You deserve better than that.

So if you follow this site and read some articles tell me what you think. What do you think about the current review policies of websites? What do you think is the better review, does the number really matter at all? Let me know in the comments down below, and I will see you in the comments section.