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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Critic Reviews Are Becoming Irrelevant

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Slowly, and over time, but people are waking up to a broken system.

Does anyone care about what so-called professional gaming journalists think anymore? Especially when they review games?

Everyone has made fun of IGN for their review of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. (The “7.8/10 Too Much Water” thing is a meme.) Meanwhile, I still think IGN's review of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is the worst game review ever written.

But it's not just IGN. People aren't taking many reviewer outlets seriously. Lots of people take issues with the subjectivity of reviewers, especially when they grade games based on some non-game ideology. Just ask #GamerGate what they think of some of Polygon's reviews, like Bayonetta 2's.

Anyway, there's some evidence out there that critic reviews are becoming less relevant over time — and might've never been relevant to begin with. Take a look at these GameFAQs poll results:

GameFAQs poll of the day make or break factor game purchase 2013
Only 12.11% of voters will not buy a game because the critics are against it. (GameFAQs Poll 4991.)

GameFAQs poll of the day make or break factor game purchase 2013
This drops to 10.28% three years later. (GameFAQs Poll 6277).

If you compare those results, you'll see a drop in critic reviews (already low) and an even bigger drop for people caring about demos. (I suspect the demos thing has to do with this disastrous Early Access/Beta crap.) Meanwhile, there were big increases for trusting a developer/publisher, and for previews.

Why do people put stock into previews and not reviews? Perhaps with the explosion in popularity of Let's Players, people actually do get their opinions to buy games from these YouTubers and treat them as thought leaders, to my chagrin. And that's considered a preview.

It wouldn't make sense otherwise, because previews — before the game comes out — come from gaming media outlets. Why would you think their feedback on an unfinished version of the game is more valid than their feedback after it's finished? Also, a lot of critic reviews nowadays make video versions of their written reviews. Are those more valid to anyone?

Pokémon GO Metacritic Metascore critic reviews
Pokémon GO has poor reviews, but as you can see, it's a top-downloaded app and overnight cultural hit.
(Shame on Metacritic for not putting an accent to make it Pokémon.)

The reviewers know they're losing influence and credibility. So they're trying to be more and more outlandish for attention. While gaming society is moving past critic reviews and leavin' 'em behind, gamers still have a long way to go until they no longer are slaves to clickbait. The urge to be baited outweighs the sensibility to not put special weight for critics.

Oh well. Give it another three more years.

I guess there is the obvious question of, “If it were up to Mr. Koopa, how should people form their opinions on what to buy?” User reviews are nice. Ideally, more people should have their minds made up concerning companies they enjoy the content of. That runs the danger of people being too hesitant to try other companies’ stuff, but that's where crossovers come in, along with getting other companies to develop your titles such as Namco with Star Fox Assault.

Also, I'm of the thought that (big) companies should do more stuff like Directs, and be far less reliant on giving the gaming media the monopoly of previewing your games. Then maybe these media dinosaurs will respond to the e-mails of smaller companies, and utilise their established media networks to get the marketing out. Just a thought.


You can check out KoopaTV's own Reviews here at any time. There's not many of them, and they don't try to give numerical scores. They're obviously written with an agenda in mind, which doesn't help make KoopaTV a better alternative to the rest of the gaming media.

38 comments :

  1. After critic reviews said Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games are bad I stopped paying attention to them. I pay attention to word of mouth instead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good idea.

      Do you have particular mouths you like to hear words from?

      Delete
    2. Forums in general. If there is a lot of praise for a certain game, I will look into it. Gamefaqs members talking about Ace Attorney got me into it and that was even before Justice for All was localized. Seeing Advance Wars mentioned in the background of the same foums also got me to pick up the used AW2 cart and the rest is history for that.

      Delete
    3. These all seem like... a long time ago.

      Delete
    4. More recent things I picked up based on word of mouth was Shovel Knight and Freedom Planet.

      Delete
    5. And whose mouths did those come from?

      Delete
  2. Everybody's a critic, so what makes one's critique more valuable than others? Years of professional journalism with pieces that are highly regarded as masterpieces? One look at Polygon or IGN will tell you otherwise. In reality, the only opinion that matters is your own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woah woah woah. My critique is more valuable than others' because, uh, I said so.

      Careful with that kind of logic. This whole site wouldn't exist (or have anyone reading it) if people thought that their own opinions were the only ones that mattered!

      Delete
  3. I guess there is the obvious question of, “If it were up to Mr. Koopa, how should people form their opinions on what to buy?”
    Has anyone actually called you Mr. Koopa?
    Don't lie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have them available, and I don't plan to look through many years worth of posts.

      I will say I've been referred to as Mr. Koopa in an unpublished interview, though.

      Delete
    2. Sounds like deleted emails.
      Are you hiding something?

      Delete
    3. I didn't delete anything.

      But it's not possible to find all of my Miiverse interactions because there is no log of events I can access for when I comment on other people's posts.

      Delete
    4. If I were covering it up, I wouldn't never told you it happened to begin with.

      Delete
    5. You're more off than a city after an EMP attack.

      Delete
    6. I'm not Hillary Clinton! I don't delete e-mails!

      Delete
    7. I don't know that.
      You could very well be Hillary Clinton.

      Delete
    8. Hillary WISHES she knew what was going on with millennials.

      Delete
    9. You wish your website was popular.

      Delete
    10. Hillary's site would be popular.

      Delete
    11. I'm just imagining you shitposting it.
      It interests me.

      Delete
    12. Well I'm saying if I'm Hillary, and this was my website, and therefore this is Hillary's website, it'd be more popular.

      She'd probably have to pay people to visit it, but she was the money to do that.

      Delete
  4. I like reading reviews, both from critics and regular players. Then I make my own decisions based on what the reviews say. For example, when Alien: Isolation came out, several reviews criticized it for something I considered a plus. So even though I disagreed with them on that point, it still helped me come to the conclusion I'd love the game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you put critics above regular players in any way?

      Delete
    2. Hmm... that depends. In general, I'd say no. However, I give the most weight to reviews that are detailed and give plenty of information, and it's easier to find critic reviews like that. But if I find player reviews that take a serious look at the game and provide details rather than just their basic opinion, I treat them the same as critic reviews.

      I also know regular players are most likely to post reviews (especially to something like Amazon or Metacritic) if they really love the game or really hate it, which can skew the results.

      The two things I look for are: detailed, written-out reviews by either critics or regular players, or conversational thoughts on the game by regular players.

      On a slightly different note, I also find it useful to read players' reactions to critic reviews, to see whether people agree or disagree (or even consider the reviewer to be giving incorrect facts).

      Delete
    3. So you evaluate other's opinions based on their explanations, not their prestige. Sounds good.

      It may skew the results, but isn't it a good sign if a game has a passionate fanbase? And a bad sign if people go out of their way to write bad things about it?

      Well, lemme tell you: Reviewers DO give incorrect facts. Remember, critics don't necessarily have integrity, and it's not like they're more objective than players. They're obligated to write a review for something whether they would've otherwise or not, but that might also skew things.
      Reviews on critic establishments often have multiple staff assigned to them. (You need to output a certain number of reviews per time period to get to be on Metacritic, after all.) Some of those staffers would've never played the game otherwise and just would not be into it, but it's an assignment nonetheless. We all get work assignments in our lives we'd rather not do, and the same goes for gaming journalism.

      That can skew things as well.

      Speaking of skewing, Metacritic has "weighted averages", so... That's absolutely skewing.

      Delete
    4. About the skewed results, what I mean is that it might give an inaccurate representation. No matter what the game is, some people will think it's the greatest thing in the world and some people will hate it and/or just want to bash it, and those groups are the ones most likely to simply give it 5 stars/0 stars. (Which is again why reviews that give explanations and reasons are the most credible.)

      Yes, I've seen critic reviews with incorrect information, which is why I mentioned that.

      So much skewing! It all comes back to that same point: read the reviews for information and make your decisions based on that. ...And read multiple reviews and comments, just in case the reviewer is giving incorrect information.

      Delete
    5. Ah, so the reason why YouTube moved to a thumbs up/down system from a 5-star system.
      Yeah, scores are totally meaningless. That's why I don't use them when writing.

      Reading multiple sources is sort of a good idea, unless there is a systemic bias. Which definitely does happen. (Kirby Air Ride for one.)

      Delete
  5. I feel like the enthusiast crowd has long ago dismissed reviews as being crap. Things like God Hand, one of the best action games ever made, getting a 3.0 from IGN really highlights that.

    What we have been seeing since Gamergate is a realization from the ordinary public who just happen to play games over how unreliable these people are, and a big part of that is due to how unprofessional these people are.

    For example, did you see that IGN just flat out refused to review the Mario & Sonic at the Olympics game because 'it's too terrible to care?' Doesn't that series have a dedicated following? I've never played one of those games myself, and probably won't any time soon unless I suddenly get an urge for some Olympic action that doesn't involve lusting over a Chinese gymnast, but I still understand that not covering the game at all was a bad move.

    I feel like more casual gamers are getting just as sick as mediocre games like Evolve and Titanfall getting higher scores while gems get left in the dirt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've played a few of those Olympic games and they're pretty bad. I guess diffrent people like different things.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, so, I didn't see that from IGN. I kinda avoid IGN, and I also avoid the Olympics games. (I only paid attention to them for 2016 because I'm in it! ...Or was.) Still, it's a major crossover thing from two major companies. They gotta review it!

      Delete
    3. Charssie: I played the 2012 Olympics 3DS demo. I wasn't impressed.

      There's a group of Miiverse dudes who are obsessed with it though.

      Delete

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