This pic is a visual example of what too many video game critics have been doing as of late: using a gimmick to get more people to read their article.

In this particular case, I'm talking about issuing a review that clearly contrasts sharply with the norm, thereby causing a big ruckus and generating plenty of traffic for the author's website. We are in a unique position in this industry, in that the vast majority of journalism happens in the virtual realm and further, most all sites depend on traffic for revenue. In other words, the more people that read our stuff, the better chance we have at getting more money in our wallets. That's just how the game – pun intended – is played. But with so many new and smaller gaming sites out there desperate for attention; desperate to draw a few of the millions away from GameSpot and IGN, I've noticed that some so-called "critics" are using review scores as THE gimmick.

Thing is, in the virtual world, gamers talk a lot about the industry in thousands of forums around the Internet and if you think this doesn't have an impact on traffic, you're out of your mind. Therefore, the winning formula appears to be simple: take a game that everyone seems to love and either give it a much lower-than-normal overall score or simply write an article denouncing it entirely. This serves two purposes: 1. it brings in the aforementioned traffic simply due to the controversy it creates, and 2. the elitist principle that too many critics already suffer from comes to light. We gaming vets are quite familiar with this principle. It's the rule that says "I know more than you, so I'm going to tell you why everyone else is wrong about this." Unfortunately, they're forgetting they're not serving the gaming public correctly by doing this.

I hate to do this, but for the time being, I almost have to recommend that gamers toss out the statistical outliers when it comes to review scores if they come from a lesser known source. The gigantic sites almost have no need for such gimmicks anymore, but those are really the only ones who are immune. When we gave Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 a 8.9, the Comments section exploded. And while the score was hardly given for that purpose, we knew it was going to happen and I'm positive reviewers from sites you've never heard of are writing their reviews for the express purpose of getting attention . Now, maybe you clicked through to this article because of the hot chick and if so, well…you get where I'm going. Just be careful about the scores and make sure you read the actual text.

You may find that while most all critics gave the game a 9 or above, this one gave it a 7, but the complaints as to why it got a 7 are either amazingly thin or just plain fabricated. Scores have a huge impact in this industry, and traffic has a huge impact on websites. If you put two and two together, you get a problem that I think you should be aware of. Just thought I'd throw this out there.

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Sir Shak
Sir Shak
10 years ago

The girl in that pic can critically analyse me ALL day long . 🙂

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

you might be sad at the end of THAT day.

phudge_supreemz
phudge_supreemz
10 years ago

thought that was a whipped cream bikini until i enlarged the picture

iGraves1
iGraves1
10 years ago

This reminds of the gametrailers.com review of Uncharted 2, while most sites were giving praise for the good job it did, gt gave it a 9.3 and talked down to it most of the review for not being original, not taking risk, and being similar to the first one. They knew it was going to create a controversy and it did, it also gave them a lot of traffic on their website.


Last edited by iGraves1 on 11/20/2009 9:59:01 PM

LegendaryWolfeh
LegendaryWolfeh
10 years ago

Actually it's more like you heard him praise the game the whole way, give opinions to why the game was bad, and then give it a 9.2.

mexgeo86
mexgeo86
10 years ago

i don't trust Gametrailers anymore; Uncharted 2's review had nothing but praise yet the score did not reflect the review at all.

sobleck
sobleck
10 years ago

mmmmmm

Naztycuts
Naztycuts
10 years ago

Ben I'm starting to worry ever since you interviewed the pornstar gamer I've seen more and more sexy pics attached to your articles. 🙂 It's just eye candy especially for the morons who don't read the articles. I'm joking but seriously see "Interview with the pornstar gamer" and "dispelling gamer stereotypes" it's kinda funny. No harm intended

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Just a coincidence. The pics always serve a purpose. 🙂

Naztycuts
Naztycuts
10 years ago

I understand just thought I would point out the irony. As I'm sure everyone loves a good joke or a play on words I'm glad to see no one took that the wrong way.

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
10 years ago

@Ben,

Nice image with this article, did I notice a slightly higher pixels count…?

😉

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

It's all in your head. We've had that pic for a while. 😉

Charger7302
Charger7302
10 years ago

Once I read the first paragraphs the website that came to mind was EDGE.com. Anyone remeber there killzone 2 review.

ed_winchester
ed_winchester
10 years ago

oh hell yeah, I was just gonna bring that up, you beat me to it

Hezzron
Hezzron
10 years ago

"Hardly" huh?

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

Actually I've been reading that marketing has a bigger effect on sales than reviews do, and I intend to agree. Many games don't get a review until release date and yet pre-orders and sales within the first 24 hours are through the roof. Hmmm…

psxmax
psxmax
10 years ago

Ben you remember what happened to Jeff Gerstmann from Gamespot? He was fired for giving Kane & Lynch a 6.0 and that same week they had the ad posted all over Gamespot. People started doubting critic scores because they thought that game sites were being paid off to give high scores. One of the many reasons why I come to this site is because of your tell it like it is reviews.

TGG
TGG
10 years ago

It's because Destructoid was advertising that game. Sites that don't have no barrier.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Oh, trust me. We heard all about it.

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
10 years ago

Destructoid

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Waste of space.

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
10 years ago

…and bandwidth.

Banky A
Banky A
10 years ago

And time itself.

www
www
10 years ago

And money.

coverton341
coverton341
10 years ago

Hi I work for Edge and I have to say that this is ridiculous. No reviewer in the history of history would give controversial scores to generate traffic.

By the way stop by our website for our super early exclusive reviews of some hotly anticipated games like Gran Turismo 5 which gets a 4.7 for being unoriginal. I mean come on you drove around tracks in the first one. INNOVATE PEOPLE! Also, look for our 3.4 review of God Of War 3. More like God of lame 3 if you ask me.

GO TO OUR SITE! WE NEED MONEY!

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

HA.

Banky A
Banky A
10 years ago

I would love to go to your site. It sounds good.

www
www
10 years ago

Actually my site is the best, its called attentiongamerz, we gave Killzone 2 a 1.0…. Beat that!

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

While I agree with this in principle, I also wonder if maybe reviewers are being too lenient these days. There is no doubt about it, we have been spoiled by the great games this gen, however any game that does well in sales whether it is technically sound or not always gets a 9+

And reviewers often use cliches like "it doesn't innovate" to hammer solid games like Uncharted 2 or "it's just a movie" to attack MGS4 while they never again use these while reviewing things that they "ought" to like. Such as Halo ODST. Not to mention the times where they will give a good game a good score but smash it to bits in the text of the review because it insn't on both consoles or their fave console. Fanboyism runs deep.


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 11/20/2009 10:45:30 PM

Poor_boy
Poor_boy
10 years ago

God, I hate that innovative mentality crap!

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
10 years ago

Same here

Solid Fantasy
Solid Fantasy
10 years ago

So what can we do to stop this BS?! Any ideas?

Poor_boy
Poor_boy
10 years ago

8.9 is a good score imo. But ya, I agree with you 100% Ben. Numbers are very powerful and I don't know about the other entertainment media, but in video games the effect is highly magnified. A $7.18 movie vs. a $60 game, the latter will be subjected more to screening process before the seal of approval, and when a game gets a lower score that what it really should be getting, it can make a big impact on the sales (except MW2), particularly with brand new exclusive ips.

Also, I think that critics need to maybe change their formulas in how they grade a game 'cuz it traps them in a sort of cacoon (metaphorically). How will they go about grading a game like Heavy Rain? The formula that is used for a conventional game won't obviously work and I bet a lot of critics who thinks traditionally will not get the game.

Ultimately though, if you're a real gamer, you shouldn't be basing you purchasing decision off of numbers alone. Rent or borrow it, nobody's stopping ya.

therabbitkinge
therabbitkinge
10 years ago

Well I know the effect reviews on the gaming industry when it comes to things like metacritic scores affecting producers pay checks, so I see exactly why sites tossing review scores around to garner attention can be very bad.

I think I can safely speak for most of us who frequently hit psxextreme and say I've never really seen a review score that seemed biased or just made to attract our attention and both Ben and Arnold never fail to respond to those of us that get pissed at any review so yeah…

I don't think the issue lies with you guys here and I hope something like it never happens here given the fact that psx has been the primary influence for all my recent purchases in the gaming universe (and soon the automobile universe thanks to Arnold) ^_^

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

We take pride in what we do and we take pride in our community.

So that explains all of THAT. Heh. 😉

___________
___________
10 years ago

i cant remember the last time i actually agreed with a review.
im still yet to read a review that puts AC2 higher than MW2 even though AC2 is 10 times the better game, it TROUNCES! MW2 in almost every aspect.
the only things MW2 has on AC2 is it has online MP and the graphics maybe slightly better that ones debatable.
most sites just follow the trend and hop onto the hype train, how games like halo ODST and MW2 can get a average score of 9 but than games that are much,much,much better get the same average score.
if MW2 deserves a 9/10 than R&C deserves a 10/10.
but hey i seriously wish the industry would shut up and stop with this hype train BS.
they run there mouths off about a game like its the second coming of christ of course im going to be disappointed by it.
KZ2 prime example, not saying its bad, but jesus fu***ng christ! that game was getting 2 articles a day on almost every site 2 weeks before release there was so much hype it was impossible for the game to meet it.
you know its funny the games the industry does not really talk about are the ones i enjoy most.
bayonetta, R&C ACIT, inFAMOUS, batman AA.
there all the games i enjoyed the most, because there was no expectations to go up against.
50 bucks says if i heard nothing about KZ2, if i did not know the game existed i just happened to walk in and buy it i would of shat my pants.
but thanks to the industry it ended up being a massive disappointment.
game journalists are not helping the industry there job is to preview games and give us and the developers feedback.
not hype them up like their the second coming of christ.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Uh…WE rated ACII higher than MW2.

aaronisbla
aaronisbla
10 years ago

you have no one to blame but yourself if you fall into the hype. Its sad that nowadays we get gamers who will judge a game harshly if it came with some hype around it.

Don't like the articles that some big name releases are getting on a daily basis? Then stop reading said articles, its simple really

___________
___________
10 years ago

ok ben your the only one.
out of how many reviews?
and the thing i dont understand is scores are subjective what someone deducts half a point for, another may deduct 1 point.
but what i dont understand is 99% of reviews i read do not state whats wrong with the game, they go through praising it stating what they liked and mentioning no faults.
like good game, they gave R&C ACIT a 8 and the reason it lost 2 points?
because it had to much crate bashing.
they took off 2 points for that.

TGG
TGG
10 years ago

I just don't think that giving a review score is all that important. Kind of reminds me of what judges at the olympics face for ice-skating. They purposefully put expected winners towards the end, because if they gave a good score to someone in the beginning and one of the other contestants did better or slightly better they'd have to give a better score. This causes score inflation.

Scores in the Olympics are important. Scores in the games industry aren't. I see review scores as completely arbitrary anyways so I really don't care if someone gives MGS4 a 6. There certainly are bad things about MGS4.

Detroyer 1250
Detroyer 1250
10 years ago

Completely off topic, but if you had to choose between demon's souls and dragon age origins what would you do? Also, i'm stating to notice the trend Ben is talking about. At crispy gamer, they did a article completely dedicated to show the faults of Uncharted 2. In reality, Uncharted 2 is game of the year without a doubt.

aaronisbla
aaronisbla
10 years ago

Ben would choose Dragon's Age for sure, as he has said say a few times. But dont sleep on Demon's Souls

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
10 years ago

Demon's Souls, any day

Have you ever played Zelda?
Ever loved dark themes? zombies? knights? ninjas? Samurais?

This game's got it all!

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Personally, I would take Dragon Age but if you asked me which game was BETTER…that, I'm not sure about…

Detroyer 1250
Detroyer 1250
10 years ago

TGG MGS4 is the best game this generation. Long live solid snake! (perfect 10/10)

Kangasfwa
Kangasfwa
10 years ago

So you finally decided to do a full article about this subject instead of throwing out some commentary here and there? 😉

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
10 years ago

It's interesting. I use three sources when I'm researching a game. First of all there's this site, PSXExtreme which gives me a lot of news about upcoming games along with previews and reviews and of course the highly entertaining and often informative comments sections. Other than that I fall back on Metacritic and Amazon. I use metacritic to get a feel for the reviews a game is getting, and I do mentally discard outliers and reviews from odd or marginal sources. Amazon is most useful for gaining user opinion of a game (unless of course it's a game I'll buy no matter what in which case there ar no actual reviews to read. Generally if I get a favorable feel from PSX and Amazon and the game has a decent score on Metacritic, that's a pretty good indication that it's worth getting. One of the things I have noticed is that games that have a more niche market appeal do not do well on Metacritic because metacritic smooths the scores to give what amounts to a 'smart average'. Amazon reader review scores tend towards the poles, either being good or bad, but seldom average. Often niche titles that are very, very good get dinged by reviewers who simply don't like that kind of game, this is something that RPGs tend to suffer from.


Last edited by TheHighlander on 11/21/2009 1:50:58 AM

Banky A
Banky A
10 years ago

Yeah Ben.
You go girl'.

Snaaaake
Snaaaake
10 years ago

Remember Uncharted Drake's Fortune which was darn good although not as good as Among Thieves?

Gamespot gave it a 8.0 which really got a WTF from me.


Last edited by Snaaaake on 11/21/2009 4:20:48 AM

www
www
10 years ago

I swear if Gamespot were given a chance to update their scores, they wouldv'e changed that 8.0 to 9.0, they must have been ashamed!