29 December 2010

Is It Time To Review Reviews? - by Andy Satterthwaite

      Posted 08/08/10 08:52:00 pm  

No matter how much we might disagree with them, reviews are important. They tell us about games, they give opinions on how good they are compared to others, and help us work out what to spend our money on.

Back in the old days, magazine reviews were pretty much all we had to go on, hanging off every word of the 4 or 5 articles about a game.

But now, the internet means that there are so many reviews, reviewers and review sites, that “review aggregating” sites such as Metacritic or Gamasutra are needed in order to get an overall opinion.

The problem, is that they do the complete opposite they don’t give an overall opinion, instead they provide weight to the haters and hide actual reviewers opinions in a mask of homogeneity.

The solution – a new form of aggregation formula, similar to that used by Rotten Tomatoes for movies.

When I started playing video games (about 28 years ago) game development reviews were something that everyone read – they were how you found out about games, and how you judged which games you’d buy.

When I started in game development (about 17 years ago) reviews were still vitally important – they boosted your ego, and your CV, they still swayed your purchases and sometimes even affected the end of project bonuses.

Reviews mattered, and were taken seriously, in part because there weren’t that many of them. In both of the above cases the amount of reviews you’d get was limited – depending on the platform and the territory maybe there’d be 4 or 5 magazines that would cover your game – and the only one(s) you’d be really interested were the ones that the publisher would love to plaster quotes from on the box (“this game is awesome (5 stars)” Official

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