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Review Scores the "Least Important Factor" When Buying Games

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the arbitrary-numbers-are-arbitrary dept.

Games 169

A recent report from a games industry analyst suggests that among a number of factors leading to the purchase of a video game — such as price, graphics and word of mouth — the game's aggregated review score is the least important measure. Analyst Doug Creutz said, "We believe that while Metacritic scores may be correlated to game quality and word of mouth, and thus somewhat predictive of title performance, they are unlikely in and of themselves to drive or undermine the success of a game. We note this, in part, because of persistent rumors that some game developers have been jawboning game reviewers into giving their games higher critical review scores. We believe the publishers are better served by spending their time on the development process than by 'grade-grubbing' after the fact."

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Let me be the first to say... (5, Insightful)

thijsh (910751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235480)

maybe it's the other way around... You only have to buy a sucky game *once* based on a raving review to *never* trust those reviews again. While your friends can comment properly on the game without some obscure metric like '8/10 overall'.

Yeah? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30236014)

Well, fuck you.

Does anyone really believe the scores ? (4, Insightful)

DCFC (933633) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235486)

If a magazine or website is really scoring out of 10 or out of 100, then we ought to see some 1's and 2's.
But we don't do we ?

The researchers would find more utility in measuring the correlation between ad spend and score.

Anyone think these two variables don't correlate strongly ?

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235512)

Part of the problem is everybody only quotes aggregates of the professional reviews. Take Farcry2 PC for example. Metacritic's Pro-review aggregate is 85/100 from 34 reviews. The user rating revew is 5.4/10 from ~580 reviews.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

Rizz (33500) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235568)

Not everyone. Tons of sites list both critic and player reviews and there's often a fairly large difference between both which tells a rather fascinating story. At the same time, those can't be trusted 100% of the time as a lot of people will get together and review bomb (look at Modern Warfare 2 on the PC for a good example, review bombed with 0s and 1s on a few sites due to its lack of PC LAN server support).

That being said, I don't know how the folks from the quoted article missed myself and my friends. I believe all of us look at scores, especially on new, non-franchise titles and sometimes even those too.

But in the end, it's price that always ends up being my final deciding factor. $60 per game is a tough pill to swallow for a new title. Long live Game Stop and Walmart with their used sales!

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (2, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235772)

Yeah because $52.99 is such a big difference... I've never seen a used price from them that was even near $10 less than retail.

Personally: Demos.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

Krakhan (784021) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236650)

Demos can be very misleading and give you an entirely wrong impression of the game. So you may end up spending money on the retail game based on certain expectations of the demo, but then see the full game is not at all what you thought it would be. The Brutal Legends is quite bad in that regards.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237314)

Depends on how popular the game was. I've gotten some good deals on games that weren't A-list titles but were still great games. Stuff like Mercury Meltdown Madness for the Wii, and so on.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

Frools (1326479) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235860)

Far Cry 2 is a perfect example of why I no longer give a flying fuck what professional game reviews say.
That game was abysmal and yet hailed as the second coming by just about every single review.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (3, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235548)

Well, here in Portugal our only magazine dedicated to PC games (there's no market for more than one, really) gives plenty of low scores, and you're right, that's one of the reasons I trust their reviews. Besides the full text, the scores range from 0 to 100, and a few months ago they gave 4 to one game. Most games get between 50 to 60, but there are plenty of 30s and 40s.

I actually like the magazine very much, and had it subscribed a few years ago, but I end up playing only one or two AAA games each year, so it's not worth it. I hope they don't go under, though. We never had a strong PC games market, but now I fear it's reducing to new lows.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235612)

Ouch. What game got a 4?

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235682)

Not sure, and I don't remember the exact issue, but it was some random RPG which featured 800x600 maximum resolution, isometric view, and it couldn't even smooth scroll; besides the texts had plenty of grammatical errors and the sound quality was worse than phone line. Oh, and plenty of story inconsistency.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

darthvader100 (1482651) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235648)

long live nag (www.nag.co.za) for giving leisure suit larry: box office bust a well deserved 10%(and hte ponies award for lameness)

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (4, Interesting)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235660)

>But we don't do we ?
There is a reason for that. It's a lot of hard work and cost bringing a product to market and generally, the real dogs are killed long before they hit the shelves. I've been reviewing hardware/software for 20 odd years now and I can only remember giving a score of less than 4 a handful of times. Equally, 9 & 10 is rare (for me). The vast majority of stuff is 'good enough' and merits 7 or 8 out of 10. TBH, I get really frustrated by constantly dishing out 7s and 8s and the few times something has turned up for review that's truly bad, I'm been delighted as it gives me a chance to have a real opinion.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236056)

There is a reason for that. It's a lot of hard work and cost bringing a product to market and generally, the real dogs are killed long before they hit the shelves.

That or the games are shovelware. The publisher knows they are crap and sees no reason to send review copies out when they'd earn an abysmal score for their troubles. Better to just push it out there and hope that grannies and five year olds will be fooled into buying it.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236444)

>Better to just push it out there and hope that grannies and five year olds will be fooled into buying it.
Not even that. It costs money to do the boxes, ship them out etc. They just can them and write it off.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1, Insightful)

beatsme (1472991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236136)

>But we don't do we ? There is a reason for that. It's a lot of hard work and cost bringing a product to market and generally, the real dogs are killed long before they hit the shelves. I've been reviewing hardware/software for 20 odd years now and I can only remember giving a score of less than 4 a handful of times. Equally, 9 & 10 is rare (for me). The vast majority of stuff is 'good enough' and merits 7 or 8 out of 10. TBH, I get really frustrated by constantly dishing out 7s and 8s and the few times something has turned up for review that's truly bad, I'm been delighted as it gives me a chance to have a real opinion.

And this is exactly the mentality that has invalidated reviewer sites: you're looking out for the developers of these games, not the consumers who are your audience. Who cares if "it was a lot of hard work" when that hard work amounts to shit? If it's shit, say so, don't pretend its worthy because it was effortful shit.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (2, Interesting)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236248)

You misread him. His argument was that after that effort, the ones that deserve 6 and below are cut and don't reach reviewers, and therefore don't exist.

My personal opinion is that this means that he should rescale 6 down to 1, and leave 0 for what he now calls 0-5. If something is that incredibly rare, it doesn't deserve half the namespace to be allocated to differentiating between just how exceptionally bad it is.

But he didn't say anything about sympathies to the devs.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30236720)

Games are not cut, they take a lot of time and money to make and companies talk about what they're making, even having to declare their status on annual returns. Just about every game is published because the investment has been made. Only a fool would believe companies would make a game, get to the end, then decide it's only going to get 3 out of 10, then scrap it.

The reality is games reviewers have to give high rating to titles when the publishers buy advertising from the reviewer's employer, invariably gaming sites and magazines. Reviewers that are brutally honest aren't kept around for long.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30236286)

You didn't read his comment. What he said wasn't "because it's hard work making a game, I don't give it a shit grade". What he said was "because making a game is hard work, publishers kill the really terrible games long before they hit the shelves. Therefore, most games deserving of a shit grade never even make the shelves".

Except you just illiustrate the problem (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236272)

Except you just illustrate the problem: something that's just "good enough" (which really just means "mediocre") gets an 8 out of 10. I'm sorry, but in a perfectly linear scale, "mediocre" would mean a 5. That's the kind of a number you could punch in a formula and get a correlation or anything else.

Plus, if it were just a case of a honest review and the bad ones being already cancelled, the results would look much like the right half of a bell curve. You know, the curve with the below average ones removed. For virtually any sitze out there, it doesn't. It looks like a bell curve centered on 8 or 9, and which pretty much starts at 6 or 7. Sorry, that's not a case of the bad ones being already removed, that's a clear sign of an offset scale. It's what you get when the occasional "something that's truly bad" means you get to give a 5 or a 6, not a 1 or 2.

And then there is the occasional reviewer whose curve looks like two spikes. The kind who churns 90% to 99% scores all year long, and then occasionally picks up some 10 year old freeware game so he can give _something_ a 5% score and fix his street cred. Or publishes a yearly smack-talking "top 10 worst games of all time" -- conveniently all 20 years old and from publishers which are no longer in business -- just to show that he's that unbiased and can give a low score too.

But again, that's not being unbiased and fair at all, it's just trying to compensate one crap (or dishonest) job with another one skewed in the other direction. If it were a real fair and unbiased and non-skewed job, you'd get one bell curve centered in the right place, not two spikes centered near the extremes of the scale.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

kklein (900361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236384)

As a tester who works with rating scales, I have to point out that a scale that has values that are never used is a pointless scale. If the range of scores reported by raters is from 5-10, then you don't have a 10-point scale; you have a 6-point scale. Also, if you're only using a few bands on the scale, you need to decide whether the raters need to be trained to discriminate more bands of the scale, or if your scale needs to be rewritten to allow such discriminations to occur, or if such discriminations cannot really be made (probably the case in video game reviews).

Furthermore, Metacritic's scaling system, though a step in the right direction, is highly, highly suspect. All they really do is take ratings and interpolate them to a 100-point-scale, with no regard to the individual scales they came from. This could be addressed via many-facet Rasch modeling without too much trouble, but I'm probably the only one who cares!

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (4, Insightful)

LatencyKills (1213908) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236838)

I've been doing game reviews online for about a decade now, and as I look back over my reviews I find the ratings pretty much hit the full spectrum from 95% (Bioshock) all the way down to 14% (Dukes of Hazard - Racing for Home). I'm also a constant consumer of game reviews for games that I buy that I don't review. I think for all reviews that have a high degree of opinion (movies, books, videogames) it is important to find a couple of reviewers who feel like you do and stick with them. It's clear that specifically to the videogame realm there is a high degree of sellout (I won't name names) but here's a hint - avoid a review for a game that has a banner ad for that game on the same page as the review.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (3, Interesting)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237542)

I understand the rationale behind finding trusted reviewers, but I've never really bothered to go that in-depth. In fact, I do precisely what TFA says people don't do: look at the Metacritic aggregate. But not just the combined score, it's also important to consider the spread of the scores, and what kind of sites give the scores in any particular band: low, average, high.

I find that when the spread is large, the extreme ends tend to point to piss-poor reviews that I can safely ignore. If there's a lot in either end, however, some of those are probably worth paying attention to. Most of the time, I look at a few "trusted" sites in the middle of the pack, such as IGN and GameSpot. GS invariably gives a lower score than IGN to any game, so I end up looking at that most of the time.

Finally, if a game gets mostly high scores, the low score reviews tend to be informative, and vice-versa.

So any time I buy a game or browse around a store, Metacritic is the first place I check, and then combine that information with the price of the game to arrive at a decision. So far the only times I've missed is when I didn't check Metacritic carefully.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (2, Interesting)

Alpha Soixante-Neuf (813971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237298)

My answer to this is it's time to re-think your scale. Absolutely everything that goes sub 6 on your current scale should get an automatic 0. 0 means too far below industry standards to be considered a viable option. After that re-orient your 6-10 on a 1-10 scale. Nobody reading reviews gives a crap about the differences between a current 1 and a current 4. they are both equally unbuyable products and I see no reason for a reviewer to differentiate between them. However, there are lots of reasons to make small distinctions between a 6, a 6.5, and a 7 and I'd much rather have those difference given more weight so they exist on a 3-6 or 3-7 plane. It's all the little things reviewers know about that would help people make decisions. Are there other similar titles that do it better? Graphics subtleties, small control issues, bugs etc...

Now it's frustrating because if you're the only one using a scale like this your reviews sound incredibly harsh, but to me there's no reason to give a spectrum at the bottom of the scale where the threshold for even considering buying it is way more like 4-5 at the lowest. To me a 1 should be the generic genre game that super fanboys will play and enjoy, but if you don't play like 20 games of the same style every year, then buy a different one. Then work your way up from there. There's no reason anything lower on the scale deserves it's own spot. It shouldn't be paid for under any circumstances and the fact that people can make games even worse than it doesn't mean the've accomplished anything either.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235668)

About 10 years ago (MegaDrive/Genesis Era) I recall games getting 1,2 even a 0 out of 10. These days you give FIFA 2010 4 out of 10 for simply updating the graphics from the previous year and not touching anything else and EA will never send you a prerelease version of any game they have, or will ever have influence over again. Give it a 9/10 with a brief "Could have done more on gameplay" hidden in the review and your best of friends!

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235838)

Why is FIFA 2010 with update graphics worth less then 9/10? Sure, if you already have FIFA 2009 it might be worth 4/10, but if it's your first ever FIFA game, it's probably worth 9/10.

Not saying I actually ever played the game or care about soccer games the slightest, just that the fact that it's an update doesn't mean it can't be reviewed for it's own merits.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235956)

What I'd do in that situation is mark it as if it's a first time purchase - getting maybe 9/10 as per your example but in the conclusion, noting that if you have FIFA 2009, there's not enough new to warrant an upgrade this time round.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237532)

Those games have never been about the graphics. They've been about playing as your favorite teams and players. People get the new versions because they have the new trades and such that've gone on since last year.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30235722)

Amiga Power used to hand out 1s and 2s... out of 100.

The games industry drove them out of business as a result.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amiga_Power#Philosophy

But what is really funny about this story, at least the way the summary is phrased, is that they seem to be saying publishers shouldn't try to squeeze reviewers for a better score not because it is an immoral business practice - but because it is no longer effective because nobody trusts reviews anymore. If publishers took the advice, people would presumably start to trust reviews again, and the advice would then have to change.

Of course, I have not read TFA so it might just be a bad summary...

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (4, Insightful)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235746)

The problem is that you need a scale that encompasses everything from "hideously bad" to "sublimely good", and very, very few commercially released games these days actually fall into the former category. Sure, the usual anti-modern-gaming crowd here on slashdot likes to decry the latest overhyped blockbuster as "worst game ever", but in reality, pretty much every such game is "mediocre" at worst, and actually reasonably good fun if considered in isolation, on its own merits. It's not really fair to score a game down for being overhyped - only to review the game in front of you.

Genuinely bad games with genuinely low review scores do exist. Even if you look at IGN, who are generally felt to "score high", you can use the review filters to find plenty of games with scores of 3.0/10 or less. These are mostly clustered on the PC, Wii, PS2 and handhelds - platforms with relatively low development costs prone to low-quality shovelware (which is by no means to decry all titles for those systems as low quality). However, the development costs for high-end games these days are such that you really can't afford to let an absolute stinker go out the door. This does make the odd rare exception that slips through, such as Lair, all the more deliciously awful.

So yes, it's not a big conspiracy that you tend to get a clustering of review scores around the 7-9/10 mark. It's just a fair reflection of the overall quality of most modern big-budget games. Reader reviews, on the other hand, often tend to be callibrated to a less objective scale, and to take more account of factors such as the degree to which the game had been hyped (and to the kind of emotive factors that the console wars stir up), leading to a wider variation.

You do, of course, get the occasional game where the "professional" review scores seem a bit out of whack. Modern Warfare 2 felt like a bit of an example of this to me; I could have seen it as an 8/10 kind of game, but I suspect that review scores above that are being hype driven.

Ultimately, I find that the best way to use reviews isn't to go off meta-critic rankings or composite scores. It's to find a review site whose tastes generally accord with my own and use this as a rough guide. I already know in advance broadly which games I'm interested in. If I read the review, I use it as a guide-post and look for issues mentioned that are of particular importance to me. If a review flags that a game has an overly restrictive save-system, then I won't buy it even if the score is good, because I hate repeating content I've already passed unnecessarily. If a review criticises and marks down a game for not including online play, however, I won't let that deter me; it's not usually a huge issue for me, as aside from WoW, I'm primarily a singleplayer gamer.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235986)

The French PC games magazine Joystick, apart from fairly objectives reviews, has a kinda effective and clear system. Apart from the regular notations (0-5 stars "a blank CD is marginally more fun"... to "for genre fans only" ... "Good Game !"), and they do use the whole gamut of grades, they add
- a Megastar status which means that the game pretty much is a must-have. They give out a handful of those annually
- side warnings if the translation sucks, or if the game requires a very powerful config to run, or if there are too many bugs
- a recurring global editor's choice list, plus individual favs of reviewers.

In the end, I find them very useful. Too bad I don't have much time to play anymore, and they pulled their website because they couldn't find a way to make it at least break even.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

LordAndrewSama (1216602) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236508)

I haven't finished reading your post, I just want to disagree with you. I think games should be marked down for being overhyped, as the gamer will be disappointed when they get the game and it's not the holy grail of gaming the adverts promised. reviews are for the _gamer_ not the publisher, and overhype kinda ruins the gamers experience.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236582)

And yet I've played plenty of games which I would recognise as over-hyped, but which I have also enjoyed. I mention Modern Warfare 2 in my post. Is it overhyped? Yes, wildly so. It's not even as good as its own prequel, due to a ludicrous plot which really shatters any suspension of disbelief. However, it's a lot of fun to play; the combat feels slick and precise, the weapons are well implemented and the scenarios provide a good degree of variety. So it's a very good game - but not one that's going to redefine the genre in the way the original Modern Warfare did. Judged in a vacuum, as I say, I think it's an 8/10 kind of game.

And that's what a review should tell me. I want an honest assessment of the game, not histrionics about whether or not it lives up to the hype. The issue for me is, when I load the game up, am I going to enjoy it. It is perfectly possible to feel disappointed about a failure to live up to hype and still be a perfectly good experience.

It's fine for the text of a review to acknowledge hype and expectations, but I don't think they have any place in an objective scoring system, or even in a broader assessment of quality. After all, it's perfectly possible that I've actually missed a good chunk of the hype anyway.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (0)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235760)

If a magazine or website is really scoring out of 10 or out of 100, then we ought to see some 1's and 2's. But we don't do we ?

Why do you expect that? This isn't school where everybody gets a grade, if the game sucked so badly it'll bomb in the reviews, you just don't publish it because publishing costs lots of money and will tar your name. The only time you see epic fails being released is typically struggling or VC funded companies on their first game that has had their supply cut off, release now or file for bankrupcy.

I see the 1-10 scale more like a playability scale, and honestly most games, even the buggy, illogical and ugly ones are mostly playable these days. They're not good games, they're not fun games, but I don't see much unplayably bad games anymore. Just games I shouldn't waste my time on because there's better games to play.

In any case, review scores aren't that important to me but they are an important "sanity check", the game might sound great but if the reviews have low scores on quality then no go. Usually I look at one of the worst reviews - there's always a grumpy reviewer out there and see "what was the worst he came up with". If I don't think what he describes is a big deal, then it's usually a solid buy.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (4, Insightful)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235808)

Does anyone buy games without trying them first? For me, if there is no demo, there is no sale.

I haven't even read a review in 20 years.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30236040)

Then there are cases like Sonic Unleashed, where the demo is about as representative of the full game as this trailer is representative of the movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmkVWuP_sO0 [youtube.com]

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236078)

I always rent games I think I might like. You can't trust reviewers to give accurate reviews because 1) they could be in someone's pocket and 2) they normally have completely different taste. So I rent and decided if I like a game for myself... Of course if I saved the money I've spent renting games I felt were crappy or just knock offs of other games (after playing them) that are out there I could pretty much buy a new computer every other year. I find myself longing for the Super Nintendo days, there was such a large variety of different games and genres out there, now is seems games are first/third person shooters or sports.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30236540)

Does anyone buy games without trying them first? For me, if there is no demo, there is no sale.

In addition to a demo, I like to wait a few weeks then check the forums.

Some games can have great demos, but with game-crippling bugs as you advance. (see NFS Shift [google.com] )

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235810)

OTOH, name me one single game that deserves a 1 or 2 out of a 100 score.
Games may be bad, but their production value is rarely low enough to warant such low scores.
If I were to publish a single picture of a maze, that would still be entertaining enough to score atleast a 3.
Perhaps a virus would score a 1 or 2.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

Imrik (148191) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236356)

Duke Nukem Forever?

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

LordAndrewSama (1216602) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236646)

Daikatana?

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30236908)

You've obviously never played Extreme Paintbrawl before. I remember PC Gamer in 1998 giving it a review score of 6/100, with the only redeeming quality of it being the box it came in was recyclable. And I'm sure that was just them being generous too. The game is really that terrible.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30235850)

"If a magazine or website is really scoring out of 10 or out of 100, then we ought to see some 1's and 2's.
But we don't do we ?"

Not true [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

aplusjimages (939458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236748)

Go visit Gamespots review page [gamespot.com] . You'll see some low scores. Right off the bat there is Tony Hawk Ride only got a 3.5. I chose Gamespot because they were part of the whole Gerstmann firing [wikipedia.org] . Not to say there aren't sites out there that don't do it to keep advertisers or to get preview copies first or to even get special treatment where if the reviewer gives it a good score then they are allowed to post their review before everyone else. 1up did a great article on this that I can't find. I guess my point is that their are some reviewers who take their job seriously, while others are in it for the monies.

It's A-F (3, Insightful)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236844)

If a magazine or website is really scoring out of 10 or out of 100, then we ought to see some 1's and 2's. But we don't do we ?

My wife and I were having this same discussion the other day. I was going through some reviews of games that just came out, comparing them to older games in the series. When I spotted one and mentioned the poor review, my wife asked what was the score. "6 out of 10". She was confused that a bad game got such a high score.

I guess I've been reading these reviews for so long, I didn't think of it anymore. 10/10 is awesome, 9/10 is great, 8/10 is good, 7/10 is okay, 6/10 is poor, 5/10 and lower is terrible.

"But when was the last time you saw a 5/10?" I honestly didn't know. Even the big-name movie tie-ins that we all know to be awful will somehow manage to score "6.5". I actually had to go look up some reviews to find lower than "6" - but they are out there. [gamespot.com]

I've started to view the "out of 10" or "out of 100" scores like the old A-F grading system we used in school. A is 9/10 or 10/10 ("A+"), B is 8/10, C is 7/10, D is 6/10 ... F is 5/10 or lower. It's not ideal to view games this way, but it makes sense of the review scores.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236934)

The problem with reviews is that they are strongly subjective.

On the other hand, sites such as Criticker (for movies) that make recommendations based on *your* defined ranking seem more useful for me.

For example, from the first 5 "best" games for the Wii (from metacritic):
1 Super Mario Galaxy 2007 97
2 Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, The 2006 95
3 World of Goo 2008 94
4 Super Smash Bros. Brawl 2008 93
5 Rock Band 2

I bought mario galaxy and thought it was just OK, nothing worth of an 80 or so.

I bought L. of Zelda along with my Wii when it was first released, however I stopped playing it
after about 2 hours because I got bored as hell.

I played SuperSmash Bros brawl at a friend's house and didn't like it at all. See, I was raised with Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat 1 and 2, thus, the "one button does everything" gameplay of SSBB just does not cut it for me.

As of "Rockband 2", I play the real guitar, I tried this mock-guitar playing in an arcade some years ago and after the first two or three games it lost the novelty (I also installed FretsOnFire and gave it a try, I just do not find such kind of game amusing).

So, that only leaves World of Goo, which was a good game, albeit a bit short. The sad think, for the wii I guess, is that a "side-project" game as world of goo ends among the first 5 of the platform...

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236974)

Oh and by the way... there is a inherent problem with sites such as metacritic and gamerankings. When a game first comes out, usually the first reviews you read are the ones which are paid for, thus you see only "90 to 100" points favorable review. After about six months, other less favorable reviews come out and you get a completely different score.

I saw that with "Wii Fit" and Excite truck, which started around the 90s in scores and got down after some months of released.

How to get the correct score (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237246)

return ((score - (score_max/2)) * 2);

50 = 0.
60 = 20.
75 = 50.
95 = 90.

And so on.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237498)

If a magazine or website is really scoring out of 10 or out of 100, then we ought to see some 1's and 2's.
But we don't do we ?

With magazines, traditionally, no. If a game is THAT bad, the magazine won't bother to print a review of it. Not that there isn't plenty of inflation going on, but there are other less-nefarious reasons you don't see terrible reviews.

Same goes for restaurant reviews from respected restaurant critics; if you see a really awful one, it's generally going to be of a well-known place which you'd expect better from; if the critic goes to a really awful new or obscure place, they just won't bother with it.

Re:Does anyone really believe the scores ? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237534)

I've never trusted them to be honest for this reason. The fact is reviews are just a form of protection racket.

I've played plenty of low rated games that were far better than high rated games with many of the high rated games being awful.

It basically comes down to whichever publishers/developers have sent across their protection racket money to all the reviewers, those that haven't get shit reviews and shit numbers on their site, those who pay up or send the required sweeteners beforehand are guaranteed an 80%+ or 90%+.

Either way, review scores whichever metric you use have absolutely nothing to do with how good or bad a game actually is, or isn't.

Why (1, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235504)

And why? Because the grade-grubbing means that as of about 10-15 years ago, reviews are nothing more than adverts, and ratings are nothing more than auctions to the highest bidder.

I've *never* bought any game because of a review. Not even back when they were a bit more honest (e.g. in the Spectrum days, it was very common to see sub-50% and even sub-10% scores of games, some of them were even immortalised in things like a "crap games collection"). Game preference is completely subjective and neither words nor pictures can convey how a game operates.

But it's not just games that suffer from the problem - I know someone who buys cameras, cars, all manner of electrical goods etc. on the basis of the Which? review. I have seriously watched them buy something that costs a month's wages just because the Which? magazine said it was the best, only for them to discover that all the things *I* said about the brand / device / features etc. were true and it was useless to them. What was even more annoying is that they asked my advice every time about PC's and electrical goods, then completely ignored it, bought what the Which? review recommended, then complained and expected me to provide support for the thing they just bought.

I read reviews as entertainment. If I want to know about a game, I might read the review of it to pass the time and introduce me to the *suggested* features that it may have. But I would never use them as a basis for a purchase... that's why you let other dummies buy it first and then hear first-hand from them after a month if they are still playing it and enjoying it.

Re:Why (0)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235658)

Not even back when they were a bit more honest (e.g. in the Spectrum days, it was very common to see sub-50% and even sub-10% scores of games, some of them were even immortalised in things like a "crap games collection").

You forgot possibly the most important piece of information. Were you a Sinclair User man or a Your Sinclair kind of guy? Answer carefully, for I have a strong preference in one direction and may be forced to declare a blood feud if you pick the wrong magazine.

Re:Why (1)

Filmcell-Keyrings (973083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236226)

I was a Crash reader - you want to make something of it. Not the parent poster, but just thought I'd stick my oar in.

Re:Why (1)

Toby_Tyke (797359) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237262)

I bought them both. And Crash.

Why limit yourself to only one free tape a month?

I still have them all in boxes in the attic.

I look at Gamefaqs (3, Interesting)

tonycheese (921278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235540)

When I personally buy a game, I look at gamefaqs user reviews instead of Metacritic. When looking at the main page of a game on gamefaqs, the first two averaged review numbers are exceptionally useful to me. They seem to give a very strong feel of what the general reaction to a game is - anything under a 7 is probably not worth my money. Also, user reviewers seem to me to play the games more thoroughly than someone who does reviews for a job, and game depth/replayability is a big point for me. Although, if I think about it, I generally buy games for Nintendo DS - price is pretty uniform and graphics can only get so good. In order to look up the game at all I had to have heard about it from my friends or some sites, so my experience doesn't really contradict his research at all.

Re:I look at Gamefaqs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30236636)

User scores are generally more trustworthy than "professional," bought-and-sold reviewers. Example: http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/ds/coptherecruit [metacritic.com]

Re:I look at Gamefaqs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30236640)

Uh, yeah... Lets see, what are the top 10 DS games currently on Gamefaqs:

      1. Pokemon Platinum
      2. Phantasy Star Zero
      3. Pokemon Diamond Version
      4. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Day
      5. Pokemon HeartGold Version
      6. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's 2009
      7. New Super Mario Bros.
      8. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's
      9. Harvest Moon: Sunshine Islands
    10. Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks

Can you tell who the reviewers/audience is there? I can and not a single one of those would be in my top 10.

Color me shocked (2, Insightful)

Tar-Alcarin (1325441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235566)

So, while there certainly is correlation between the review score and purchase numbers, there's very limited (if any) causation? With the immense integrity the game-review professionals command, who'da thunk it?

Trust (4, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235582)

It all boils down to trust (or more specifically lack of it) on the Game review sites.

I'm not overly surprised that people don't base their buying decisions primarily on the review scores from game-sites. In most sites I've seen one or all of the following:

  • Creeping scores: games coming out now get higher average scores than games that came out 2 or 3 years ago
  • No mention of the bugs: a game might be full to the brim with bugs on release day and yet there is no mention of it or a passing reference to "the version we tested had some problems but this is a pre-release version and they should be solved before release" (not!)
  • Hype: game sites are the main culprits in creating/maintaining hype on often undeserving games. For example, before release Spore was being hyped to death by most game sites as a grand, revolutionary game - as it turns out, it wasn't even that much of a fun game and after release the hype-machine went suddenly quiet
  • Shallow reviews on just the beginning of the game: a lot of reviews sound like the person doing it just played the game for a couple of hours and then wrote the review. Plenty of games out there become pointless and boring after a couple of hours playing them, and yet that's often not mentioned in the game reviews
  • No mention of intrusive DRM: often enough the games come out with crazy phone-home, only works if Internet is always on, DVD-Writer-breaking DRM which installs a rootkit in our machine and yet not a peep about it in the main gaming sites. I suppose some might mention it if the activation process involved "chop your grandmother into little pieces and send them to the following address ..." but must would not

Personally, I usually wait a while after the game is out and then go check user reviews. If your discount the "100%, great thing since sliced bread" ones (which come from fanboys) you'll usually be able to get a good picture of all the above mentioned points that the game sites miss (bugs, long-term (re)playability, intrusive DRM, hands-on-beyond-hype experience)

Re:Trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30236344)

"Shallow reviews on just the beginning of the game"

I can't remember if it was PC Gamer or PC Games (the latter of which has been defunct for quite some time now), but one of them once reviewed Civ II: Test of Time. This was basically a re-release of Civ II, a couple years later, with an updated tileset, some different game modes (extended normal with future tech, sci fi, fantasy, etc.), scenarios, and an updated script engine that let modders make much better scenarios.

They gave it a low score, which it probably deserved because it was a full-price re-release of a 3-year-old game with many copies in the bargain bins. They also cited the graphics as a con of the game, because they were darker and the reviewer found them harder to differentiate (I personally liked the update). The review seemed to miss that even the standard mode had some much-needed updates, but to be fair, it was easy to miss because it was poorly called-out in the documentation.

Here's what I hated: the manual of the game had some pretty poor wording on the game mode where you play regular civ, but after reaching alpha centauri you got to keep playing. Based on the manual it sounded kind of like you started a new Sci Fi mode game at that point, but that made no sense. The Civilopedia, or actually playing the game, or reading the friggin' fold-out unit guide, shows that you can start colonizing alpha centauri as a different map overlayed on the world map, and there are special structures that you can build to travel between overlayed tiles if they happen to be land on both planets. The tech tree was expanded that little bit further to accomodate it.

The point I'm getting at here is that the reviewer scathingly snarked about how unfun it was to play the game through to the end only to have it restart you from scratch in another game mode (something along the lines of "if you think that's fun -- it isn't"). That really crystallized to a young me just how untrustworthy these reviews were. The man had clearly just read the manual and based his review on that while claiming to have actually played the game.

Re:Trust (1)

rpillala (583965) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236434)

  • Creeping scores: games coming out now get higher average scores than games that came out 2 or 3 years ago

Of course they're better: they're newer

Duh.

Re:Trust (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236590)

Not really certain about how much scores are creeping. There are a lot fewer really shit games out there these days, plenty of games I don't like, and plenty of let downs, but really shocking crap either doesn't make it or doesn't get reviewed. I've also seen games with huge full page adverts get panned in the same magazine, though I haven't read one in a few years.

Game bugs are a funny thing. Sometimes they're really massive game crippling bugs which should have been caught, but a lot of the times they're the result, especially on PC of odd hardware or software configurations, old equipment, or unexpected user behavior. If game studios can't find bugs with a huge team of testers and beta testers and everything else they do you can't really expect some single reviewer to find and mention every one. Add in the fact that if you're reviewing games for a living having a rig in reasonable condition at all times is a justifiable business expense(and also not an experimental toy), and you won't see an awful lot of reviewers running on 5 year old equipment or bleeding edge beta software.

Hype is always an issue, especially with games like Spore. Mostly because ideas always sound really really cool, and execution doesn't always live up to what it was supposed to be. Spore was a classic example of this, as is pretty much every game Peter Molyneux has ever produced. A lot of the hype comes before the actual game is reviewed, or before reviewers discover how eminently disappointing the actual feature is over the long term. Black and White is a perfect example of that sort of thing, the tutorial mission was absolutely awe inspiring, but they never really did anything with the idea.

Shallow reviews are a problem, but they're largely unavoidable. Review sites are commercial entities, that means they have to generate enough content to keep readers reading, and they have to review the latest greatest games while people are still interested. This means a reviewer can't spend a month exploring every aspect of a game, it's just not economically viable. Add in the fact that a lot of reviewers are probably sick to death of most game mechanics just because of the nature of their jobs, and you might find it's sometimes hard to tell when a mechanic is actually grating and tedious and when it just seems that way because you've played 150 WW2 shooters this month already.

DRM is an odd issue. Generally speaking, for the most part, if you follow the rules, it doesn't actually cause all that many problems for most people. Is it really a reviewers job to talk about the anti-piracy measures if they don't interfere with the game? Most PCs that are powerful enough for gaming are constantly connected to the internet these days anyway, and while I wasn't a huge fan of securom, and still am not, it's not really all that inconvenient if you've paid for all your software.

Personally I also prefer user reviews, particularly on consumer electronics, not necessarily because the users are any better at reviewing things, but because reading the reviews will give you an idea of what kind of problems you might encounter. If the worst the kind of rabid complainers who visit forums can complain about is something you can live with you can be fairly certain the problems aren't going to be all that bad. 99.999% of the time you won't even experience those problems, but they do give you an idea of the worst you can expect.

Reviews aren't perfect, nothing which has to make money generally is. That said, in an area in which you are not an expert, reading a variety of reviews can give you a fairly good idea of whether a product is any good. This isn't so good for games(most people who buy games have a pretty good idea of what a good game is, and what they like playing), but for a lot of things where you aren't an expert, they're not half bad. I am not, for instance, a refrigerator or car expert. I don't buy them all that often, and they aren't my areas of expertise. I certainly wouldn't take everything in a review for either as gospel truth, but reviews are generally better than guessing, and I don't have time to become an auto mechanic just so I can properly judge a new car.

Re:Trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30237370)

Just to pick a nit for the heck of it: Spore is the brainfart^H^H^H^Hchild of Will Wright. The Sims guy. Peter Molyneux is the one responsible for the massively fun Dungeon Keeper and lots of dreck after that.

Re:Trust (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237048)

No mention of the bugs: a game might be full to the brim with bugs on release day and yet there is no mention of it or a passing reference to "the version we tested had some problems but this is a pre-release version and they should be solved before release" (not!)

that's assuming they even reviewed the game and aren't just regurgitating the press release and images from the press pack

People SAY they are not influenced by reviews (3, Interesting)

KermitTheFragger (776174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235626)

If you ask people if they are willing to pay more for quality 90% will answer yes. However when the moment supreme is there to purchase for example a new notebook 80% will go for the cheapest and don't care about long term stuff like quality. I think there is a good chance this survey works the same; People SAY they are not influenced by reviews because 'Hey, I'm an original, I don't let anybody influence me'.

Re:People SAY they are not influenced by reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30236438)

Unfortunately, review scores and quality go about as hand-in-hand as review scores and sales, at least if this article is to be believed.

Luckily with PC games you can test them for free. (2, Informative)

boombaard (1001577) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235642)

Luckily with games, there are free demos available on every major torrent site.
Having said that, I do realise that this applies less to console owners, who are in a more difficult position because they generally can't test games before purchasing it, meaning they will have to live with a lower signal-to-noise ratio. (But then, they were the ones who chose to invest in a closed platform.)
Anyway, I'm fairly happy that most games are available for free testing (I'm usually not really in a rush to get any particular game), because - looking back - I can't really say that I found very many games that would've been worth my money if I had bought them (not even when they were sold at half 'list' price).. For the last couple of years the list would pretty much be limited to Portal, EU3, World in Conflict, Vampire: Bloodlines and Civ4 (and Arkham Asylum was OK too, just not at the current prices). Not a very long list, I might note.
In all, I would suggest people don't get consoles, as too much bargaining power is taken away from you in getting one, and too many games just aren't worth wasting money on.

Re:Luckily with PC games you can test them for fre (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236160)

XBLArcade and PSN do have demos of games.

Unless by demo you mean, pirate.

Re:Luckily with PC games you can test them for fre (1)

ImOnlySleeping (1135393) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236498)

It did imply that they never even bought the games that were worth something.

Re:Luckily with PC games you can test them for fre (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236884)

In all, I would suggest people don't get consoles, as too much bargaining power is taken away from you in getting one, and too many games just aren't worth wasting money on.

Nonsense. There are plenty of good games that are worth your money on game consoles, and it's not hard to make out what's good judging from word of mouth/keyboard and reading reviews (fuck the scores, read the review!).

That it's a closed platform doesn't matter at all to the consumers. We don't have to upgrade our hardware, deal with technical issues, and we don't get invasive DRM.

Having said that, there are free demos for many games on PSN and Xbox Live!.

Re:Luckily with PC games you can test them for fre (1)

drb_chimaera (879110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237488)

Not to mention the renting option - and a few places I've seen will generally discount a game by the price of the rental if you subsequently buy it.

I almost always look at reviews (1)

ET3D (1169851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235692)

I read both media and user reviews, though mainly for games I'm thinking of buying because they're on sale on Steam or the like. If the reviews aren't good, I'm less likely to buy the game. The other way though, review causing me to buy a game, is less likely, simply because I don't tend to read reviews if I don't yet have an interest in the game.

I was surprised that advertising visuals are the next most important factor after genre, playing a previous version and price.

Review Scores are all payola.... (2, Insightful)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235694)

Depending on how much the parent company spends in ads on the site/magazine, the score will be inflated higher. The few times that an editor or reviewer really did stand up and score a bad game as such, they were immediately fired by the advertising department. There was a big scandal a few years back when the editor actually spoke out against one such firing... I am too tired to look it up myself right now.

Anyway, reviews anymore from the "gaming press" are total garbage due to this mechanic. The ads in the magazine are more important to the company than the reviews themselves. When was the last time you saw an EA game get a 1 out of 10.... And trust me, there are many deserving candidates, like the yearly sports rehash which change nothing in the game, just which player is on which team. Or Race Driver Grid, or Darkar 2009, or Rally Stars.... The magazines would just not post a review of a game when it gets bad because they don't want to potentially lose their ads from the publisher...

Re:Review Scores are all payola.... (0)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235742)

Whole industry tarnished by one or two scandals shocker! In reality - in most cases editorial and advertising are kept very separate for exactly this reason. And as Exhibit A, there are now less adverts in mags than ever, so how would your argument hold true? For online, this could well be different but its so much easier for readers to call BS and for word to spread.

Re:Review Scores are all payola.... (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237012)

The departments are separate, you are correct (and I even said that myself, "fired by the advertisement department"). The ads are down because the distribution of the magazines themselves are down. We have seen staples of the industry close up shop in the print world, like Electronic Gaming Monthly. The print side of the industry is collapsing due to the internet. You need to remember the same people who are the target customer/demographic is also the same demographic most likely to know how to use a computer and search the internet for information, such as reviews, cheat codes, maps, hints, etc., which is exactly the information that people had really been waiting for in the magazines (when they first debuted at least).

Re:Review Scores are all payola.... (3, Interesting)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235758)

This is certainlhy an issue with US based sites/magazines. Over in the UK it's less driven by advertising spend (in my experience, at least). I've given fairly bad reviews to a few products and I still get new stuff from them to look at. Equally, I've had software from the US where they've asked outright if the review will be looked upon favourably if they advertisise with us. They seemed amazed that I was adamant advertising and editorial don't talk to each other. They can't, otherwise the whole point of reviewing is null and void.
There is possibly an argument that because some firms let you keep the kit (sometimes quite expensive kit) and others always want it sent back, that this could affect your scoring but I try hard not to fall into that trap. That said, I often request review items I actually have a need for and this can actively work against it if it doesn't do what I'd hoped.

Re:Review Scores are all payola.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30236760)

It's the general attitude of corruption over there. You tip your waiter or bartender to get served. You tip your journalist to get good reviews. You tip your congressman to get the laws you want and you tip the governer to get nominated for a vacant Senate position.

Review - yes. Score - no. (2, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235710)

I have three tiers of deciding on purchase of the game.

1. I read the review about what the game contains. I thoroughly ignore any "positive personal thoughts" about the game as marketing fluff. The negative ones do add to the value of the review but aren't all that important. I just read what is the concept of the game, and whether it is anything original, with potential - a good idea. If the review talks loads about graphics and sound and development time and prior franchise, even in total superlatives, it means the game is junk. A reviewer would concentrate on the really good points if it had any.

2.I check some Internet fora to see what people complain about. If there is a number of complaints about the same thing, it may turn me away again. The thing being "awful execution of the wonderful idea" is one of possible choices.

3. Then I grab the game off a torrent. After I'm through with it, I look back at how it felt. The only deciding factor is "I enjoyed it". Yeah, I enjoyed Stalker: Clear Sky, despite hopeless story, dull ending and reuse of content. I enjoyed Oblivion despite being dumbed down to knees level of Morrowind.

If the game passes the three tiers of classification, I buy it.

Positive/Negative user reviews are the thing. (0)

quadrox (1174915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235738)

I read the professional reviews only to get a detailed overview of what to expect. The buying decision is made after reading both the most positive and most negative user reviews - this usually gives you a fairly accurate idea of what to expect.

In the past I have bought too many games on hype alone, only to be disappointed because some aspect of the game was not (as good) as I expected. By reading the positive and negative user reviews you can be almost certain to learn about the quirkiest details.

Amazon (2, Interesting)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235786)

I used to write Amazon reviews - you know, the bit before the buyers reviews but after the manufacturers descriptions? I was impressed when I signed up that made it clear I could slate a product if it really wasn't any good. Their only stipulation was that I should suggest another product on their site that was know to be better. Seemed fair enough to me. I stopped some years ago but if that policy is still in effect, it owuld add some weight to their value IMO. This was the .co.uk - the .com had diffferent reviews and possibly different criteria.

Re:Amazon (0)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236128)

Curious - I seemed to have upset someone - all my posts are getting marked over-rated. Still, maybe they are!

Demo's (2, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235824)

I buy games when I've enjoyed playing the demo. If there isn't a demo available, I don't buy it.

Game world not designed to allow for demo-style play? Rubbish. You can sandbox an area of a GTA map, limit Dragon Age: Origins to one town, make level caps to prevent access to higher level play... It's just laziness.

Re:Demo's (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236634)

It's not really all that simple. A sand boxed area of GTA wouldn't feel like the real GTA does, and more than half the beauty of Dragon Age is how deep and rich and real the world is, one town even the best town wouldn't give you that.

Add in the fact that in a lot of cases the demos, even with everything cut out of it, are as large as the full game, and you're sort of in a bit of a tough situation.

Re:Demo's (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236896)

I take it by "large" you mean in file size, and that's one of the reasons I still buy PC gaming magazines. They often come with demos for games I haven't heard of yet, or I don't have the patience to download. Size is only an issue if you're still on 512k at this point in time.

Besides, a game doesn't need to be huge to be fun. I bought Audiosurf based purely on the demo, as I wanted to play the other game modes. I still play it probably two hours a week, with new songs or getting better scores on old songs. I played "Through the Fire and the Flames" for an hour itself on the demo, and that game is... 50MB? A little more?

If you mean too large in the game world sense, then you can cut it up at a load scene. A fraction of the story to get you interested. It's called a hook, and is often what you see in trailers. I'd much prefer an actual playable demo to a video, though.

If you trust the reviews that goes a long way... (1)

jimbob666 (1050308) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235900)

LOL reviews are one of the most important factors I base my purchases on. And here in the UK I go by Edge Magazine which I have been reading for 16 years.

I can trust their reviews. Anything they give a 9/10 is a must buy (if you like the genre) and the rare 10/10 are no brainers. There have only been a handful of 10/10 in the magazines long history, including one this month: Bayonetta.

Edge Magazine: http://www.edge-online.com/magazine [edge-online.com]

Reviews are important for Wii owners! (1)

BuckoA51 (1119431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235920)

Owning a Wii, there are a bunch of really fantastic games and a whole lot of dross (though this is true to an extent on all platforms the Wii seems to suffer more than most). Without reviews, there would be no way to sift through all the chaff and find the good titles. Though the fact that terrible software continues to sell by the bucket load on the Wii suggests that the average joe probably doesn't read reviews at all.

Bought reviews (1)

mseeger (40923) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235938)

Since it has been disclosed that good reviews are being bought (you are allowed to conduct a test early if you guarantee at least a score of X), you cannot rely on reviews in any way. Currently the publisher try to sell any game as much as possible on the first three days before the "real" reviews hit.

a modest proposal (2, Funny)

Bazzargh (39195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30235982)

Since the publishers are so keen on getting 8/10 reviews, lets replace the stars with a scoring system that just gives them more of what they want.

A good game gets one (8/10).

A mediocre game gets 3: (8/10)(8/10)(8/10)

And a terrible game gets a whopping 10: (8/10)(8/10)(8/10)(8/10)(8/10)(8/10)(8/10)(8/10)(8/10)(8/10) ... the publishers get what they want, and anyone with a calculator to hand knows what we really mean [google.co.uk]

Garrison Keillor says... (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236026)

Because at Lake Wobegone Software Publishing, all the secretaries are efficient, all the managers intelligent, and all the developers are above average.

--
BMO

Re:Garrison Keillor says... (1)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236094)

That's a really, really old quote, bud. You better Google it to be certain, but just yesterday I heard that Lake Wobegone Software Publishing was under-water [wsj.com] .

Wait a few days (2, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236046)

Most games are at best mediocre and at worst shovelware crap. It doesn't hurt to wait a day or two after release and gather consensus whether a game is worth purchasing or not. I don't get the urgency that some people attach to getting a game the minute it is released. If the game is THAT GOOD, then the reviews and consensus will bear that out, and if it doesn't, well you've just saved yourself a chunk of money.

Be extra suspicious of games that embargo reviews, or allow just a handful of "exclusive" reviews to break the embargo. More often than not those reviews have been paid for in one way or another. Just like with other kinds of media there is usually a very good reason that publishers don't want you to know upfront what a game is like - because the product sucks.

Re:Wait a few days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30236860)

Most games are at best mediocre and at worst shovelware crap

Perhaps you should sell your Wii and get something better?

Re:Wait a few days (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236962)

Actually I play games through the PC and PS3. While the Wii is blighted by shovelware, the reality is that every platform has a large percentage of mediocre / bad games, a smaller band of decent games and a smaller again band of stand-out titles.

Every time someone preorders a title, they are basically gambling with their money when a few days would tell one way or another what the consensus is. That could be critical consensus as well as what fans of the genre thought of it.

How I read the reviews... (1)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236116)

These days, I usually assume that if a game gets released, it's at least not half bad. At least on console side, there's some quality control in place. If the game gets released with really, really, really damning flaws, I expect every reviewer to whine about it. Fortunately, here the reviewers are at least trying to keep up to some journalistic standard and aren't lying all the time.

I usually just read the reviews to see a few things: 1) did the game impress the reviewer whom I know is a fan of the genre and has seen many comparable examples? 2) just how much bullshit regarding the pre-release hype did the reviewer actually uncover, and would this affect my own expectations? Are the promised features that I was excited about still there? 3) Are there any big problems with the game that I should be aware of?

Score is ultimately an useless metric that depends on too many things. If our local prominent game mag gives the game 70 or up, it's usually a sign that the game is going to be at least somewhat fun and worth trying.

I never read reviews as reviews. (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236242)

I never read reviews as reviews.

A review to me contains two or three things: advertising for the game, some more details about the gameplay that might be missing from the full-page graphic laden ad or TV spot, and possible it might compare the game to relevant reference points (other games, other relevant media, etc.). If I want an opinion beyond those bits of factual information I will look elsewhere - within days of a game being release there will be many opinions out there to pick from. Admittedly you have to assess each as there will be a mix of astro-turfers and particular-company-haters-who-don't-even-know-the-product-they-are-bashing but if you can find a good active discussion or two you can usually get a good gauge of the state of play.

You also have to remember that the person writing the review isn't you. Your opinions may differ greatly when you actually get hold of the game, so try to read the facts upon which the opinion is based more than the opinion itself. Have a look at Zero Punctuation's reviews - if nothing else he rants entertainingly (IMO), and while the reviews are slanted towards the negative (intentionally so) he will mix in what good points he finds. For instance the BioShock review which if you don't pay attention at the beginning (where he lists the games major good points) you'd mistake a "good and very pretty, but not close to the hype" review fro a complete slating. When he does say something nice you know he means it (as being nasty is what gets him his viewers and therefore his paycheck). Of course I disagree with some of his views, because as stated above he is not me - I liked DeadSpace a lot more than he did (the trick being not to expect too much depth in what is essentially an interactive action flick) but didn't much like PainKiller when I tried it on a friends machine (though a lot of that is based on "what it my kind of game" and "what mood I was in" as much as the game itself.

In summary: you are never going to get a true impression of how much you will like a game from any one review or collection of reviews, so stop trying. "Out of 10" and similar scores are even less (far, far, far less) meaningful.

Caveat: I buy at most on or two of major games most years, and sometimes those are last year's games or earlier (which are now at little as 25% original full price) and occasionally pay for a good indie "casual" distraction, so I'm not really the industries key target audience.

Real reason here: (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30236672)

Only a minority of gamers read reviews, get fact before buy. Theres a big group of people that just buy a game based on the box. And this groups is probably the bigger.

I am tempted to say that very few people that buy games are gamers (!). I mean, gamers as people that have gaming as his hobby.

This is why I love the slash crowd (1)

vosester (1163269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237136)

We are a smart bunch, but so dumb some times. I say the average I.Q is what 130+ and yet we are so egotistical that we think advertisement does not work on us.

Of course the dumb rating system will not work on us, but they get us other ways.

I will use the iPhone as the best example of this, we ignore the silly ads. you know the lame ones that are comply unrealistic. They get to us through nerd speak,specs, and its almost like we get off on it. Then we got out and buy it. Knowing the limitations and the bad points.
No mater how bad because it is cool tech. Since everyone in the tech crow has one, the dumb adverts now work on the average customer.

Gaming is still a young market they will grow up, but for now this still works.

Compare two reviews one for P.C games and one for console games and the focus be will completely different, yet they are selling the same thing.

Adverts and reviews are make for the target audience that will most likely buy the product.

You can tell how well a market is doing by it’s adverts, Razors are still sold to you like your twelve and it still works.

Sent form my iPhone.

They're important to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30237162)

They are probably the MOST important factor, aside from series which I love dearly, eg Halo, Metal Gear, Gran Turismo. Before I get any game, I always check the reviews on two or three different sites. I even shop for games that way. PS2 -> RPG -> Browse All -> Sort by Review Score.

How do i do it? (1)

jaggeh (1485669) | more than 4 years ago | (#30237322)

As an avid gamer with multiple platforms (360, DS, PC) im usually buying 3-6 games per month depending on releases.

I use the metacritic websites aggregated score to get a feel for what people are thinking.

if i see something compelling i check for video footage to see if i like the art direction, usually on gametrailers or similar site.

Then i read some reviews OR i speak to people i know have played it or have worked on it.

Lastly if its a sequel that i have played before i replay it or use my memories of it to decided wether or not to buy.

tl;dr
my decision on buying games is based on
10% - aggregated review scores
30% - video footage
40% - word of mouth/in depth review
20% - previous history with game franchise or developer

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