on video game reviews and the power and influence of marketing

I came across this post at No High Scores yesterday. It's about how mega publishers are starting to limit access to the media in terms of review copies, overall access, as well as in potential ad money.

There are a lot of great things about working in the games industry.

You know what the best thing is?

I work in the games industry.

Every day I get to play, talk, and write about games. I get to talk to people who make games. I get to share my opinions with other people who play games and they get to tell me how brilliant or how stupid I am when it comes to games. When people in the sleepy Ohio town in which I live ask me what I do and I tell them they stare at me with both amazement and sometimes derision.

“Yes, Marge, I’m a 39 year old child. Just give me my mail already.”

You know what I don’t like? The other stuff.

Fighting with PR over review copies. Being told that we can’t post a review of game X before the embargo “unless the grade is at least an 85 on Metacritic.” The sites to DO score that high get all the pre-release traffic so we’re forced to ether inflate a grade or lose the hits.

Being told that sites which use letter grades do not get advanced copies. (Because of the way those scores are translated on Metacritic.) Knowing this is untrue because 1Up sure does. Then realizing we aren’t 1Up.

Defending my writers’ competence when they “score” a game lower than the average for a game.

It's a super-interesting post that’s worth reading in its entirety. I don’t even pay attention to game reviews or critic scores any more, because the whole thing just seems like a corrupted process intended to generate positive PR, rather than give actual useful information to gamers.

I’ve pretty much stopped pre-ordering games because of this, which I know the games industry doesn’t like (pre-orders are super important to publishers, because of the GameStop effect), but what choice do I have? When I can’t trust sites like 1Up or Metacritic, I have to wait until people I do trust have actually played a game to tell me about it. And how do game journalists feel about this? If I were a game jouranlist, I would feel pretty gross being part of a system that's similar to the relationship between the right wing and FOX "news."

Gamers: how much influence to game reviews have on your buying choices? Is there a site that you know you can depend upon to give you a completely honest assessment of a game, like Penny Arcade does?

(No High Scores is a fantastic gaming site, by the way. I read it every day.)

94 thoughts on “on video game reviews and the power and influence of marketing”

  1. I don’t bother much with games reviews these days.. they all feel much of a muchness, sadly. There are some reviewers who stand apart but it’s become such a blur of trite phrases and saccharin laden dialog it’s increasingly hard to find the wheat from the chaff.
    In the last month I’ve started reading Rock Paper Shotgun regularly, and I have Ars Technica on my RSS feed for it’s technical articles so I stumble across their reviews every now and then too. Mostly I rely on word of mouth, twitter etc to give me a feel for what my friends are actually playing and enjoying.

  2. I don’t tend to use review sites… but the one site I do follow is Atomic (www.atomicmpc.com.au), they have stated on more than one occasion that they dislike the way the publishers try to influence the mags and online reviews to gain better scores (ie the COD preview retreat in Cali.) and have stated they will be transparent about what they do.
    I trust their reviews over any others…

  3. An interesting little glimpse into the industry, if for no other reason than the fact that I’m just starting out in what will hopefully blossom into a full-fledged gaming career in some way, be it journalism or the actual development aspects.
    I’m part-owner of a smaller gaming site (No Worries Gaming! I won’t link it specifically cause that feels like a dick move, but it is Google-able, I bet), and we’re sort of on the smaller side of the “news-sphere” scale. We don’t have the clout or the PR awareness to have to run through the hoops and jumps of dealing with various agencies. We got denied for E3 because we can’t afford the $500-600 a month it costs to get ranked on sites like Compete and Alexa and all that.
    I don’t think that my own reviews will necessarily convince a person to buy or not buy a game: I don’t think that they’re necessarily meant to do that. From where I’m sitting, and from how I try to structure my reviews, people want to know what reviewers THINK of a game, not whether or not you should fork over your money. I write about stuff in games that makes me happy, angry, burst out in laughter…whatever really speaks volumes about the game.
    The concept of embargoes still blows my mind as to how in-depth and biased they can be. Being asked to wait time before posting a review isn’t that bad at all, and I can understand that. The fact that they would hint at “enhancing” a review’s score to get the review out early though…yikes, that really frightens me.

  4. I actually don’t really care much for reviews any more. If it’s a new game or a sequel from a company I like, I’ll buy it right out of the gate, although I don’t pre-order unless it’s a really good deal. Otherwise, I’ll watch some of the trailers, maybe check out the demo if there is one and go from there. I don’t mind trying out stuff I’ve never seen before either.
    With the price of games I totally understand why people want to see some reviews first, if it sucks or if it’s really short you feel cheated, but I guess you just don’t buy from that company any more.
    I’ve heard of people finishing Portal 2 in about 5 hours, maybe if I’d heard that before I bought it I might have waited, but it’s still pretty good.
    I also don’t go to gamestop any more because they seem to have finally stopped selling PC games altogether.

  5. The best review for me is a demo to try. No demo and I’m not going to dish out the bucks. Maybe years later when it’s overcrowding the used racks.
    Reviewers don’t know what games I’ve enjoyed. They don’t know what I like about certain games and what I’ve disliked. Honestly, I’ve been rather disappointed in games in recent years that I did get without demos. I haven’t finished a single XBox game, but have old PS2 and even PC games that I return to over and over (heck, I’m playing Caesar 3 *again*)

  6. I agree with you on that, but I just feel that every retailer or online seller always offers different incentive pre-order extras. I always feel like I am never getting the full experience the game developer wanted me to have. At the very least, they can give the same pre-order bonuses to all retailers. Granted, its usually something insignificant like armor or a new character skin, but still. Its the principle that counts. As of lately, its as if the game developers really care more about our wallets than a strong fan base. Whether or not you want to chalk that up to the poor economy is up to you, but the old days of having a complete game with no bugs from day one are over. I = sad. : _ – (

  7. I almost never notice the scores a game review gets. My criteria for game buys is this:
    1.) Does the game sound like something I would play?
    2.) is it in a series I know I like? (Layton, Mass Effect, Phoenix Wright, etc)
    3.) Is it by a publisher who generally makes things I like?
    4.) Find a review and read all the bits about the plot and scan for glaring complaints about the gameplay mechanics. Disregard everything else.
    Mostly I hear something mentioned or see previews for something, go “well that sounds cool” and preorder, or not. I never read the reviews portion of game mags/sites, just the previews.

  8. So, while following the link I couldn’t help but notice the 30th anniversary deepone-hide covered Call of C’thulhu book coming soon. Not unlike the nice person who posted the article, I too loved D&D and Star Frontiers, but CoC was always my favorite.
    So, whatta ya say, Mr. Wheaton…are you a fan of such a tome of horrors?

  9. I tend to look at reviews and take them with a grain of salt. Aside from the fact that you might not be able to trust a review entirely, everyone has different tastes and that Call of Duty game might be a 10 for some people and I’ve enjoyed the hell out of any number of games that were probably 7s or 6s.
    So, what to take away from reviews? A number can be an interesting gauge for what range to expect a game to be in, but above all else you need to actually dig into the text of things where they hopefully give you a good feel for what sort of game it is, what it’s strengths and weaknesses are, and then obviously you have to compare them to your game style. Do you play games for the story or to be the best around in competition or what? That’s far more important than any number.
    As for game sites I trust, aside from enjoying the word of Tycho and Gabe on Penny Arcade, I usually look things up on GamesRadar. Their review format just works for me, because it seems like every reviewer does their best to give the overall feel for the game, and aside from a quick score at the end of things, they also put up a few bullet points about the main positives and negatives and don’t mind slipping in some humor.
    They’re also nice enough to give me some non-Wheaton podcasts to take up space while you’re busy making awesome stuff with awesome people. Public transportation and walking give a whole lot of time for my ears to get greedy and I’ve listened to every one of your podcasts more times than most songs on my iPod.

  10. I’ve stopped buying and reading game magazines and I never visit the big gaming websites any more. The entire review system has been screwed for years. There is the stupidity of an “average” score being pegged at a 85% but also none of the reviews for multiplayer heavy games are conducted on public loaded servers so the reviews are totally inaccurate or misleading.
    I trust a handful of small independent websites that don’t play the crazy game you described and the opinions of a small group of friends whose gaming taste I trust. I never pre-order and would rather wait till the game is in the wild and the various bugs have appeared and (hopefully) the developers have fixed them.

  11. I’m lucky enough to be heavily into the gaming community in the UK and as such has access via webistes, twitter and podcasts to a large number of people who buy and comment honestly on games and use those as a means by which I can decided what is worth buying. I never pre-order, but once a game has my interest I log it on gamecrawler.co.uk with a price alert so I know the moment it is available for under £30, £25, £20 or whatever I feel I want to pay for that game.
    These two factors combined mean I’m pretty much guaranteed to only buy games of average and above (I can enjoy an average game) and I only pay what I feel I want to. All I need is patience.
    Also I’ve found myself turning more and more to independent games, where you can be sure a reviewer has nothing to gain from reviewing the game since there is no money to force hands or make demands.

  12. The only game reviews I really listen to are those posted by Friends who’s opinion I trust, and who have a similar game taste to myself.
    I’ve seen too many movies/games that I have loved but which were slatted by reviewers, And the opposite Ones that were touted as the best since…. and I found very unsatisfying.
    So I tend to trust a few smaller gaming blogs where I know the people are giving fair honest opinions.

  13. Given that you’re a redditor, did you catch the IAmA from the current editor of PC Gamer (I’d link to it but reddit is down)? I thought it was very interesting to read something from one of the “big” game review outlets.

  14. One of the biggest things i use review sites for, is to see whether or not the game in question is structurally sound. Had i read a review prior to purchase, I wouldn’t have faced the debacle that was FF7: Dirge of Cerberus. I would rather not play a game that feels rushed to market, made just to capitalize on a name, completely glitchy, and so on. Gamerevolution.com does a pretty good job of this. When you see a glowing review on their site, it usually is pretty legit.
    On the other hand, word of mouth is EXTREMELY important as well. It helped me purchase one of my most favorite games: Shadow of the Colossus.
    So, game reviews are like movie reviews- you take them for what they’re worth. Not much.

  15. Well said, Doc. I read video game (p)reviews before release mainly to determine whether or not there are any glaring errors in structure or design–not to determine the “fun” factor of a given game, since that is such a subjective measure. I’ll either wait until some friends of mine have played it and recommended it (or at the least, some respectable friends-of-friends).

  16. I don’t read review sites, but what I do read is a forum called Gamers with Jobs and listen to their podcast. (www.gamerswithjobs.com) Adult discussion (most of the time) about games and honest reviews and discussion of games not just by the guys who run the site, but by the users of the site make me realize fairly quickly whether a game is for me or not.

  17. I rely very little on reviews and mostly on word of mouth.
    I have a friend who just started to get into the game review biz, and he already told me there is a lot of pressure. Honest reviews are hard to come by these days. At least BEFORE the game is released.

  18. I’m usually pretty predictable in what I buy. I will buy games that I’m SURE I will like because I’ve liked previous installments in the series or I’ve liked games from the developers before (the most notable occurance of this is with BioWare games). If I’m uncertain, I’ll read multiple reviews. I don’t bother with scores, but read about the gameplay, how it compares to other games of the same genre and stuff like that. Very rarely will a review change my opinion of a game and deminish my desire to buy it though.
    HOWEVER, all that being said, I work at EB Games Canada. I see first hand the power of review scores and word of mouth. We get Game Informer magazine in our store and on my breaks, I will usually skim through it. Just the other day, my coworker said to a customer, “Well, Game Informer gave Crysis 2 a 9, so…” and that was enough evidence to make the man purchase the game and he didn’t even READ the review! It’s frightening what numbers can do. :/

  19. I thought Penny Arcade was a reverse secret super cabal dedicated to promoting Pepsi and Guildwars 2. Haha, just kidding (!) I do enjoy their videos however.

  20. We never played CoC in my group, but I had the rules and LOVED reading them. I'm *super* excited for the 30th anniversary book to come out.

  21. I know what genres and what (few) specific games I enjoy playing and pre-order from the manufacturer’s site only, or whatever link they provide. I consistently enjoy the Heroes of Might and Magic series and some other Fantasy RPGs and a few other turn based strategy games plus the Myst series. I did the online rpg thing for a while but found it wasn’t nearly as fun if friends I knew weren’t there to play with and I hated the constant drain on my small resources. So out went W.o.W. I do support Good Old Games which has super deals on out of production games from back in the day.
    I use to look at reviews but a) don’t have the time anymore and b) always looked for negative reviews first to see if the complaints made sense to me. Not surprisingly after reading your post, there aren’t any around anymore. Like Stereophile Magazine use to and may still work, they have a chinese wall between advertising and any reviews and have handed out quite a few bad reviews which subsequently meant that company pulled advertising from their magazine for a year or so. “So be it!” was their mantra and that’s the way it should work for games also.
    But I live in a world were large corporate power is extremely disliked and think regulations and such should be tougher the bigger the company gets. For review sites, that means the management has to have an enlightened view of things, not a corporate “money is number one” view of things, which inevitably corrupts.

  22. Wil, there’s an element to this dialogue that a lot of people don’t seem to be considering, based on the sources quoted and many of the comments here.
    Let me preface this by pointing out that in exactly two months I will have been reviewing games professionally for 15 years. Ten and a half of those years were spent at Ziff Davis Media, home of EGM, and later, 1UP. Most of that time was spent at the Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine (yes! a magazine! made of paper!), and most of that time was spent in charge of the Reviews section. Since OPM went kaput in late ’06 I’ve been a freelance writer, primarily doing reviews for many of the big gaming publications: EGM, 1UP, GamePro, GameSpy, PlayStation: The Official Magazine, OXM…er, I’m sure I’m forgetting someone, but you get the idea. During this time I’ve reviewed well over five hundred games, all for publication in major outlets.
    What I’m saying is that I know how reviewing games works.
    Over the past decade and a half, I can think of exactly one — one — occasion in which a PR person attempted to directly influence the score”e of a game before the review was written. It was the type mentioned in this articles: you can get review code early if you agree the game will be at least a certain score.” We of course turned them down.
    On maybe, oh, ten or fifteen other occasions, a PR person called me (in my capacity as reviews editor) to debate one of my reviewer’s scores after publication. And in every one of those occasions save one (in which a memorably loony PR dude pretty much went off his meds) they went away satisfied that their game was given a fair chance. Disappointed it didn’t do better, sure, but satisfied that we were evaluating the game thoroughly and fairly.
    And that is, of course, a rightful part of the PR person’s job: to ensure the game is being treated fairly. And in my experience, the vast majority of PR people, and the publishers they represent, are ethical, sensible people who are as appalled by sleazy back-room dealing as journalists and consumers are. Because they know what every publication should know:
    If a reviewer isn’t honest about the bad games, no one trusts them about the good ones, either.
    Trying to artificially inflate a score is an incredibly shortsighted maneuver; it may bump up the Metacritic rating of the current game, but it kills the credibility of both the publication and the game company. If consumers buy a game that’s been artificially praised, they don’t just resent the outlet that did the praising, they resent the game company, too! And they’ll be that much more hesitant to buy the next game.
    This is what I would tell the vocal minority of PR people: If we’re not honest about your crappy game, no one’s going to believe us if we praise one of yours that’s legitimately good. And most folks recognize this. That’s why these kinds of sleazy deals are the exception, not the norm.
    But here’s the thing that I find particularly amusing about all this. So many people involved in this discussion (including many commenters here) use this news as justification for not trusting the big enthusiast sites or magazines. You even mention in your post not being able to trust 1UP.
    But it’s the big media outlets that are most immune to these kinds of deals! The big media outlets know that the game companies need them more than they need the game companies; they’re big enough that they get their clicks or their subscribers whether one particular game is reviewed early or late; they have the budget and manpower to generate tons of non-review content; and perhaps most importantly, they know that if one particular company is going to withhold review code, they have plenty of other companies willing to fill those spots.
    Furthermore, the big media outlets have ad-sales teams completely separate from the editorial teams. I know at Ziff there was an impenetrable barrier between ad and edit; we referred to it as the separation of church and state, and it was inviolable. Oh, we might hear that publisher X was threatening to pull ads — I mean, stuff gets around, you know? — but there was never — ever — any pressure from that side, or from our managers, to change our editorial content in any way as a result.
    Now, I do know that hasn’t always been the case everywhere. The Gerstmann/GameSpot debacle is the most offensive example of ad influencing edit, but I can think of a few other stories (or at least rumors) I’ve heard over the years.
    And it’s been a bit over four years since I worked full-time at a gaming publication, so I suppose things may have changed a bit. But if they have, it sure hasn’t trickled down to me; none of the publications I mentioned above has ever attempted to influence the score of a review I’ve submitted. Not once. Not even a little bit.
    And of course this makes sense when you think about the power these bigger publications hold. If we really need to be concerned about someone falling prey to publisher and/or PR pressure, I think it’s the smaller sites we need to beware of, the ones who have limited access to begin with, limited resources to devote to non-review content, and limited staff to serve as buffers between pushy PR and writers. To be clear, I strongly doubt many of those succumb to that pressure, either. But wouldn’t you agree that they have more incentive to?
    One final note before I release my choke-hold on an entire page of your comments section: If we want to point fingers here, we should consider pointing them at aggregator sites like Metacritic. The section you quote mentions that “sites which use letter grades don’t get advanced copies” because of how Metacritic translates them. And if you think of this from a PR person’s perspective, it makes perfect sense: Metacritic calls a “C” a 50 out of 100. If that same reviewer reviewed the same game on another site, it would likely get a score around 75, because most game publications use a number-based rating system that roughly translates to percentage grades in school: e.g., 60 or lower tends to be “failing.”
    To combat this, either all publications could adopt the same rating system (ah, no) — or Metacritic could get their heads out of their asses and use some sense when standardizing scores: If a C is 50, fine — but make sure that for sites that only rate 60-100, an 80 is also 50. It’s pretty simple math, you know? Calculate the mean (or is it median?) score for each source, and make that the middle of the scale.
    In closing, I’ll say this: It’s fun to bash on The Man; it just doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense. Also, this sort of thing is news because it’s the exception, not the norm. Also, I’m rather hungry.
    Your fan,
    -joe rybicki

  23. I'm so glad you wrote this, Joe. It's interesting and informative to get your perspective. Thanks for reading my lame blog!

  24. I completely ignore pre-release hype, and even early post-release hype. Fact is, for a large number of reasons I tend to get games much behind the purchasing curve. For one, the majority of my gaming is still on the PC and I wait for the first few patches to come out before I can even get an idea of what the gameplay would even be like. Secondly, the major input for my desire for a game is usually word of mouth. Either from friends I have in WoW or friends in other places, generally if a game is really good and worth playing, good press filters in by word of mouth. I do pay attention to Penny Arcade, I find their reviews to be, well, not unbiased, but biased like a normal person. They don’t try to give objective assessment of games, but instead they give their impressions and based upon what you know of their personalities you can assess what you might think of the game. They aren’t so much reviewers as proxy friends relating their experience. Though they do tend to focus more on multiplayer gaming aspects while the majority of my gaming is solo, so their influence is lesser.
    In total, I’m probably the guy the gaming companies hate. I will almost never be the person knocking on Best Buy’s door, waiting to get that game the moment it comes out. I chalk it up to aging, having to be more responsible with my money and my time. I think the last game I bought purely on hype was Spore.

  25. “Lame”?! What kind of crazypants talk is that? I read it to feel a delicious burn of envy at your fearless honesty, and your ability to draw profundity from the mundane. I am a big believer in the motivating power of envy. Delicious, delicious envy.
    And I am apparently still rather hungry.

  26. I was going to say that reading reviews was only about 10% of my decision making process. The other 90% would be word of mouth by my friends and known non-biased, and particularly awesome geek bloggers like Wil Wheaton.
    But after reading Joe’s post, I feel a little better knowing that he believes it’s not a completely corrupt system. I’m still wary, but his opinion does carry some weight. That being said, as any PR or marketing person will tell you, word of mouth by trusted sources is the absolute best opinions to get.

  27. I give precicely 0% credit to review scores when it comes to my purchasing decisions.
    I use:
    a> personal knowledge based on previous games by the same developer
    b> personal experience with betas
    c> comments/reviews by people I know in real life.
    C by far the least mainly because I don’t always share similar tastes with my friends. But I have bought things just to play with them, even when I know I’m unlikely to dig it as much as they do.
    I’m also a crotchety old man of 38 who doesn’t just buy every thing that hits the market. I’m far more likely to buy 1-2 titles a year and play the heck out of them for several months if not years rather than change up my gaming often. (MMOs being the best example of this…I tend to stick with those from 2-5 years depending on which one)
    Non-PC games on the other hand, I wish I had more people locally to play with. I tend to learn about the new ones and get a chance to play them each year at GenCon.

  28. Homefront from THQ is a good example of this. Only scores above 80 were released prior to the “supposed” PR embargo. Scores were in the average 80s prior to embargo, then plunged once the embargo was lifted. Then the game comes out full of crashes, lockups, server issues, and a 5-6 hour single player campaign.
    If you want to see overselling, just search for “Danny Bilson THQ.”

  29. Speaking of review sources, did you catch the latest issue of PC Gamer? Apparently Blizzard has announced a new Hero class and a source says “I’m playing a Level 62 Wil Wheaton right now…” – I won’t spoil the class’ special ability – page 96, back of the magazine.

  30. I’m not a hard-core gamer. (I’m a Mac guy, and firmly agreed with the old video that was going around 5+ years ago talking about games on the Mac… “We’ve got, uh, that number puzzle game…. and Photoshop!”) I got Steam when it was released for the Mac, and have probably bought more video games since then than I had in the previous 10 years combined. (That said, while I enjoyed Portal when I got it for free, I’m not willing to spend $50 for Portal 2 on day one… I’ll wait until they drop it to $20.)
    So I don’t listen to critics or reviews at all. It’s mostly word of mouth/peer stuff, or seeing something that looks cool to me (the two DeathSpank games would be right up your alley, if you haven’t played them.)
    I don’t even own a current console system, but your numerous fond memories of Rock Band make me want to pick that up eventually. Maybe when my 5 year old daughter is a little older and we can play it together.

  31. As with movies, I don’t pay attention to the scores, but rather I read the reviews and adjust for biases I see on the author’s part. For instance, the reviewer may say great things about the gameplay and then complain about the graphics — I adjust my mental score higher in that case because I care more about the former. I also look for tell-tale words like “savepoints”, which automatically makes me score the game lower (unless the reviewer is saying something like “savepoints are so frequent, you won’t notice/mind them”.

  32. Interesting to read so many people’s view points here. I was in such a rush to make the first post (and a few people got ahead of me during the typing of my message – the scads!) that I forgot that there are two places I frequent regularly for game reviews – Amazon and Gamefaqs.com. Since I repair and sell used vintage games and consoles and play a few newer ones – I read many reviews on Amazon to see what people have to say. Some are honest, some angry and dickish – and the rest seem to fall inbetween. I’d say the game about Gamefaqs – but both places do give you the opportunity to hear what people have to say, positive or negative.
    I guess I will always miss the good ol days of sitting in my dorm in college, turning the volume up on my sound system connected to my SNES and hearing knocks a few minutes later by fellow gamers asking if they could play a few. 😉

  33. Joe–you’re the follicle-challenged guy who used to write for Playstation Magazine…or was it PSM? I forget…but those mags were the best!!
    As far as I’m concerned you are absolutely the hands-down Expert on the discussion here.
    For those of you who don’t know, Joe was part of a regular and fun cast of folks who would steer the aforementioned magazine each month, providing articles and thoughts on reviews back when the PS2 was king. I still have a stack or two lying around…

  34. You should correct that RPG deficiency – and in an engaging fashion in which a connection is built to the character allowing the actual horror/fear elements to come through the game as opposed to the Paranoia-esque fashion in which far too many despoil Sandy Petersen’s opus by racing to be the first character driven stark raving bonkers. That’s my opinion, anyway :)
    I’ll make you an offer…I’ll buy ya the book if you come to Tucson to play! (Here’s hoping the fallacy of logic in my offer doesn’t come to light…)

  35. I apologize if I’m repeating anyone’s post, but that is a lot of comments.
    I have to believe that this system of preferential treatment and conditioned embargoes will catch up with those guilty of perpetuating it. While still a seldom occurrence from the gaming journalists, this isn’t the first mention of it, and I think the more that do choose to say something, the sooner it’ll come crashing down. Eventually, this nonsense will be come so commonplace that game reviews will either become completely untrusted by the public, or scores will be thrown out of the equation. This might not be happening right away, nor might it be anytime soon, but I do firmly believe that score inflation and marketing favoritism will be the instrument of its own demise.
    When it comes to game reviews, I don’t believe that they’re totally untrustworthy or worthless. I approach them from two angles: first I find a group of reviewers that share my feelings about video games and what makes these games fun. For me, giantbomb.com fills that need. Second, I take the time to read what reviewers actually write. Not only is the score usually implied, but it creates a much more vivid example of what playing that game will actually entail and, more importantly, if it’ll be any fun.

  36. Ever since Star Wars : Galaxies I do not buy any MMO’s until they have been live for at least a year. For any other game it has to be at least a month.
    It seems that all games are forced to launch early these days to make the most of seasonal sales and marketing.

  37. I was once paid a nice sum and got a free copy of a game in exchange for a review. I mostly liked the game, but did point out some negative aspects of it in my review. I still gave it an overall positive rating. After it was turned in, some ‘edits’ were made to spin the review so that nothing negative was in there. I have no idea what magazine or site ended up printing the review, but I felt dirty as hell for getting played like that and I won’t do it again.

  38. I do use game reviews to try to make informed decisions, though sifting between the actual facts and the PR bunk, I sometimes feel like Turing trying to crack the Enigma code.

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