Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Changing Face of Game Reviews

As the state of video game reviews changes, The Guardian is also jumping on board with clarifying just how tricky it is to review products these days. In the process, they also clear up some misconceptions. Game reviews may look the same for most sites and magazines, but the process has evolved as more content has become digital. In an age of bittorrents and pirating, game developers no longer mail out discs, and have special play-in events for reviewers so the staff can monitor everything.

And as a number of us know by now, most games are now released incomplete or with bugs. This is to build up on DLC later and to patch out problems as the majority of consumers now have some form of a broadband internet connection. It's easier on the developer's bottom line to sell a game with bugs, then to withhold it until it's in working order. And with faster internet speeds, it's not a hamper for most consumers.

This is also why I appreciate Kotaku and The Guardian's new approach to games. They review products in their home as any customer would. They can see the highs and lows of internet speeds, play with other gamers instead of game reviewers in a controlled environment, and experience the DLC as it happens. They don't post Day One reviews unless devs will allow them to test the games in this way.

But the article The Guardian posted isn't just about how game developers have changed with the digital times, it's also about how the readers have changed as well. Now that feedback is instantaneous, fanboys and fangirls are quick to comment on reviews. Critical reviews, as in reviews that dive deep into the game and provide both positive and negative responses, can be met with overwhelming hate by fans. Reviewers are met with ire, called foul names, or sometimes told they are misinformed or lacking in information. The last point is ironic because if a post or review is too long, people won't read it, so reviewers have to keep it short enough for people to digest, but long enough to contain the main points. And then readers complain that the reviewers don't know the product. Well...if it was any longer you'd stop reading. So there you go!

We live in an odd time for video games.

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