Friday, May 18, 2012

Are Reviewers Defending The Devs?

I had to laugh at this article due to the sadness of truth and the catch 22 it tip-toes around.

A lot of gaming review magazines, websites, and message boards suck. A number of them say good things to get their tag lines published by the game developers in their commercials and marketing products. In return, the magazine might get a “thank you” (aka read that as kickback). Movies do this all the time. Whoever said “This is the funniest movie all year” for the horrific Adam Sandler comedy Jack and Jill was someone who wanted attention. And was probably from a really small town in the middle of nowhere. Studios love to dig up reviews that are from tiny newspapers that have 0 influence on intelligence.

Gaming reviewers do it to. They may pretend that they don’t, but they do. A lot of them don’t. The vast majority don’t, but there are some that do. It is what it is.

So yes, there are times where they defend publishers for their shitty products and/or services when they should be saying no. They are consumers too and deserve a better response. There is a relationship between the industry and the reviewers that, even on a subconscious level, everyone has to play along. We may not like it, but we have to be nice to them. Without them, we don’t get games. And without us, people don’t know their products exist. It’s a cycle.

And like many of us, we’ve been in the industry previously either as the retailer or the devs themselves. We know the stress and pressure they are under to get products out to consumers. As such, we give them a little slack if something isn’t quite right. I know I’ve done it a few times. When people “nerd rage” about a product being delayed, I take a moment to defend the studio. BioShock Infinate for example; I’d rather they take the time to make the game as good as it can be before they release it. Some people don’t understand that. Some do.

At the same time, I don’t cave in to pressure. EA for example. I still hate their company polices and do everything in my power to not support their products. I know I’m just one person that really doesn’t make a dent in their sales, but to go from loyal consumer to non-existent participant says a lot. And I’m a pretty patient person.

Man I talk a lot of smack about EA. I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true. Though I do defend them on the rare occasion. See. unbiased reporting, which is what William Usher, the writer of said Diablo 3 piece, is trying to get at. Reviewers shouldn’t cave to the industry and act as the moderator between the consumers and the developers.

I’ll agree with that to a point. It’s funny when I read some gaming sites telling everyone to chill out if something didn’t go right with a game. People have the right to be unhappy about a product that they did or did not receive. We shouldn’t let developers “get away” with treating their customers like crap. Even with the Diablo 3 fiasco and trying to be reasonable, it’s still too much. I can’t play a game unless I’m online on the servers, which are up and down constantly? Then why did I spend $59.99 (tax excluded) when I can’t play the game when I want to? That’s a waste. And it’s frustrating. Consumers shouldn’t deal with that, and reviewers shouldn’t put up with it either.

While Blizzard has apologized, it should have been something that was considered before release. Take a look at the pre-order numbers a month out, and then figure out from there how to handle the server load. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how often little things like that are overlooked. *coughEAnotsendinganycodesforWarhammeringameitemsforpreorderingandthenblamingitontheretailer*. We, as a community shouldn’t put up with it. We have the right to make our complaints heard and addressed by the developers. It’s the only way to ensure that changes will happen.

Here’s the Catch 22.

There are a lot of internet trolls that love to start trouble.

While there are some people who are legitimately upset, a number of them either don’t have the ability to convey their thoughts in a calm, reasonable, logical manner. They lash out in ways that are unnecessary and it becomes the gaming website’s turn to try and bring them back down to a normal level before they hurt themselves. Or they are trolls.

I got this a lot at GameStop. Some people get incredibly worked up over nothing. People throw controllers if they can’t jump on a box correctly. I know those are the extremes, but it happens and you can’t really reason with them until they calm down.

And the mob mentality. If one person starts, and another hops in, it’s only a matter of time before you have a group ready to storm the castle. One person is easy to hold a discussion with. In a group, chaos can take over. In that aspect, I can completely understand where the developers are coming from. To quote Tommy Lee Jones from Men in Black:

A person is smart. Reasonable. Intelligent. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.

So true. If it weren’t for the trolls of the world and people being…people, gaming websites wouldn’t have to play the middle-man. They can do their job, act as reporters, and go about their business. It’s a rough life being in the middle.

I’m all for not letting developers skate by and having less moderation of the gaming community by the reviewers. But people need to not act like 2 year olds and have a fit or troll when they can’t get Mario to jump on a box. That’s not the developers issue, and they get tired hearing about it.

Here’s how you can help get your concerns across to developers if you are unhappy about a product or service:

  • Write in legible, understandable, proper English. I.E. Sentences should contain a verb, adjective, and a noun.
  • Do not write or type in leet.
  • Do not use vulgar language. Even damn and hell should not be used.
  • Think about the issue through before starting to write it out. Let your brain process the concern so that you can convey your problem more effectively.
  • And don’t threaten the customer service staff. They don’t like it. It won’t help you. And it’ll probably get the police called to your home.

Reviewers don’t have a problem if there are real concerns about a game. But if you can’t clearly state the issue and it falls into “this sucks, blah, blah, blah” then of course they are not going to side with you. Be reasonable. Be smart. Think before you speak. Do that and we might accomplish some needed changes.


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