Online journalism is relatively new, and as we all know, it doesn't play by the same rules as print journalism. It should , of course, but realistically speaking, it almost can't. And now, the latest negative trend is clearly beginning to affect game reviewers across the 'Net.

Anybody can discover the trend for themselves, if they're even the slightest bit observant. Here's the only example you need- Game X scores a 9.5 from one source, a 9.0 from another, and after maybe a dozen total reviews, it's averaging a 9.2 or something like that. Then, one source gives it a 7.0. …now, regardless of the source's size, reliability or affiliation, that source can expect a ton of attention for delivering a review score that's in such stark contrast to the standard average. And what does attention translate to on the Internet? Traffic. Visibility. Growth. Money . Typically, this might not be an issue if the savvy reader and consumer would be smart enough to gauge the situation and then respond appropriately. But lately, many gamers are – for whatever reason – treating the lone dissenting critical voice as the lone voice of reason. Their logic operates in reverse. They actually believe that the one reviewer is probably "telling it like it is," and everyone else is just a "fanboy" or "paid off."

The "paid off" thing is rarely an issue – we dealt with that during the GameSpot/Gerstmann/Eidos fiasco – but this ordeal where reviewers who issue greatly differing scores from the norm…well, it's starting to become irritating. Just look at the headlines for the day whenever this happens. Nobody is going to even notice the site that gave GTAIV a 9.5, but everyone will notice the site that gave it a 8. The same goes for just about any major blockbuster release, and as far as we can see, this trend is only going to get worse. With so many "critics" realizing that there's a tried-and-true method of garnering major attention/traffic, the controversial reviews will continue to assault the Internet. We're not about to squash differing opinions and we're not about to say that a big difference of opinion is automatically manufactured or artificial. Sure, it could be legitimate. The critic really might believe Killzone 2 is only worth an 8, or something. And he'll try to prove it.

But that's not what's happening. Instead, we're getting poorly written and completely ignorant reviews that are specifically designed to attract attention. This is going to cause some serious problems, because lest we forget, critics have a responsibility . They have a responsibility to the gamer. Most gamers do their research and aren't willing to drop their hard-earned cash unless they get some professional feedback first, and succumbing to the "gotta get traffic!" trend is only going to hurt the consumer. So all this being said, we leave you with this: be very wary of reviews that give a high-profile game a significantly different overall score than most sources . Critics in other entertainment industries are guilty of this same trend, too, but the vast majority of game reviews are online. And online, we have immense website competition…just be careful, people.

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ps92117
ps92117
12 years ago

maxim(kz2), famitsu(wkc) lol, this probably happens to 360 games as well, just don't know of any case.

Shadow_Ninja
Shadow_Ninja
12 years ago

good article.
ive been here for a couple of months now but bearly subscribed. i like the way this site manages the videogame industrial news and is not a fanboy site (IMO). you got my support ben.

Shadow_Ninja
Shadow_Ninja
12 years ago

if it means anything….

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
12 years ago

Of course it matters. We appreciate ALL support.

GuernicaReborn
GuernicaReborn
12 years ago

The one thing I hate about reviews is when the author of the review lets their opinion or, for lack of a better term, taste in games effect the score. There must be some key words to look for in reviews to signal a red flag to readers, aside from the greatly differing score that you mention. And I hate when reviewers use the phrases too easy and too hard.

I especially disliked Gamespots review of rachet and clank future: tools of destruction. Never have I seen someone say that the game is very good then give it a 7.5. Never, that is, until that terrible review.


Last edited by GuernicaReborn on 1/21/2009 10:53:51 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
12 years ago

LOL That was Aaron. He was in the position I'm in now before moving on to GameSpot.

He's not at GS anymore, btw…

Arvis
Arvis
12 years ago

And are we all supposed to know who this "Aaron" fellow is??

Btw, X-play did something similar in their review of Wii Music. It went something like this: "This game is pointless! It's not really even a video game! The music quality is bad and there is nothing competitive about it! If you want to play a video game, DON'T play this! Final Score: 3/5."

I was like, wth?

-Arvis

N a S a H
N a S a H
12 years ago

" He was in the position I'm in now before moving on to GameSpot."

I think, MAYBE he might have just told you who Aaron is. No?

Itdoesntmatter
Itdoesntmatter
12 years ago

I think it hurts them in the long run because it hurts their reliability and trust in the eyes of gamers. It is a short-term benefit to act like a tool.

chicko1983
chicko1983
12 years ago

Also though, the major sites can collectively overscore games, like they did with GTAIV (in my opinion it was a good game but overscored)
My advice is to experience the game for yourself, either by borrowing from a friend, a demo, or hiring the game before reading reviews so that you can form your own opinion of the game.
I wouldnt buy a game soley based on review scores and only look at reviews after I have played the game for myself.

Sir Shak
Sir Shak
12 years ago

After playing game X for over 40 hours, I think it deserves a solid 9 , largely based on its fun factor.


Last edited by Sir Shak on 1/21/2009 11:17:37 PM

GuernicaReborn
GuernicaReborn
12 years ago

I think its safe to say… this is the best review ever.

KevinCairo
KevinCairo
12 years ago

This reminds me of the people that gave the Dark Knight bad reviews! Oh, man, this is a really good point. I mean seriously, I was furious!

Arvis
Arvis
12 years ago

You know what's fun? Go to RottenTomatoes.com and read the negative reviews of movies like Return Of The King, etc. Laughing at these attention-starved, egocentric, pompous morons can be quite entertaining.
"Peter Jackson's send off is a bore-fest? Yeah, 11 Academy Awards say you're an idiot…"

-Arvis

somethingrandom
somethingrandom
12 years ago

I know exactly what this says, so I'm not going to bother reading it. Ben, I agree completely.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

Any chance this has to do with Maxim and KZ2?

Sir Shak
Sir Shak
12 years ago

I heard they gave the new 50 cent game a higher score than K2 . Go figure .

Qubex
Qubex
12 years ago

We have to accept the truth that poor journalism and poor judgement on games (that aught to be beacons for the insdustry) will be with us for as long as this medium exists… as most of the guys have stated above… you can use a few reviews as a guideline, but ultimately you need to play the game yourself and then be the final judge…

If the game genre doesn't appeal to you, or you know already that that style of game play mechanic will not suite you, don't bother wasting your time… If you are sorely dissappointed in it, simply because you knew already you probably won't like it; it is very easy then to take that dissappointed aggressively online onto forums and blogs and spread the poison on that particular title… which should not have occurred to begin with…

For example, the problems with the Orange Box… a lot of people moaned about that, especially here… but it was justified in that technically, for what you were paying for, it failed to deliver; unacceptable when the IP in general is so good on other platforms, but on the PS3 it did not live up to what it should have… so by moaning about it, are we then guilty of spreading the poison, hurting sales etc; or are we being realistic, objective and right in what was said? I guess it requires a fine balance to get true judgment and criticism right…

Q!

"i aM hOMe"


Last edited by Qubex on 1/22/2009 2:20:03 AM

www
www
12 years ago

Yea it's like the Assassin's Creed days,when Gamespot gave it a 9 and most other sites gave it a mediocre score.

Recently,it's Eurogamer,given Prince of Persia 6/10,when most sites including PSX,IGN etc,giving it above 9/10.
Though i sometimes feel Eurogamer's 6/10 for PoP might be right,i think it shoulda been 7 or 8,cause am finding PoP kinda repetitive and boring,honestly.

i don't know if PoP devs were copycattin' OKAMI,one of the most brilliant water-colour painted games on ps2.Okami had content,you would come across ppl in a town,help them out with their troubles,take part in fishing,heal lands etc,but with PoP it's just basically healing lands,i don't see any residents/animals after healing the lands just butterflies.

I still find okami's art a masterpiece,PoP's art is like a simple drawing and colour,Okami was kinda like a real free-sketch painting.
Okami was a classic no wonder it was repeated on the Wii just like Resident Evil 4.It's sad most didn't pay Okami much attention.

mastiffchild
mastiffchild
12 years ago

Yeah, neither Killzone2 or SF4 can match the might of Fiddy so bow down to the mighty Maxim the only true voice in the industry.
I commented virtually the same thing a coupla times now and, honestly, wouldf trust a 360 specific site reviewing Killzones2 over Variety, GR, GD, Kotaku etc, etc-even IGN who I usually trust implicitly went down slightly in my estimation for giving out a ten to GTA4.
AAAH GS try more these days to be fair but the will to see Sony exclusives tank(esp KZ2) IS palpable and , no, it doesn't happen with 360 exclusives.

Arcane Altair
Arcane Altair
12 years ago

Well said Ben.

It's pretty sad to see it happening, but hopefully most gamers are smart enough to see it as a pathetic chance to try and get attention.

What sucks is that most fanboys will just use them to start more controversy.

Buckeyestar
Buckeyestar
12 years ago

In the end, a game rating is only the reviewers opinion. There is nothing quantifiable about a games actual worth, it will be different to different people. I love Mercs 2, Saints Row 2, and Tomb Raider Underworld and would rate them higher than apparently most people would. I would also not rate things like Resistance 2 or GTA4 as highly as other because I simply don't like them as much as others do. That is what it all boils down to, what the reviewer likes. I know someone will say something like "a reviewer should be unbiased", but that is impossible. As I said, there is nothing written in stone about how a game "should" be rated. It seems to me that many reviews are so similar just because people are following the pack.

PS3_Wizard
PS3_Wizard
12 years ago

Thats why someone said that certain sites should only review games they play….no need to review a fighter if you hate them already. If you never liked RPG's like Final Fantasy games, why review the new one? You are obviously gonna give the game worse reviews than lets say PSXEXtreme.

Buckeyestar
Buckeyestar
12 years ago

That is why you should probably follow only particular reviewers. If you have a history of what a certain reviewer likes, and it coincides with your tastes, then you can trust that reviewer.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
12 years ago

This is a falsehood that has to stop.

There are most certainly quantifiable aspects of a video game, regardless of opinion. I don't care who you are or what you like; the graphics in MGS4 or superior to the graphics in Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire. Using those two games, the control is also a whole lot better in one than in the other. One can also quantify sound quality, depth, and sometimes, even pacing, character development, etc.

The idea that everything is just "opinion" in a review of any kind is just liberal propaganda. "Oh, HE likes it so it's good to HIM." Bull crap. Just because someone prefers a Big Mac to a fine cut of filet mignon doesn't make the Big Mac a superior piece of meat.

JofaMang
JofaMang
12 years ago

While I disagree with "all reviews are opinions" statement, I do believe there is a qualifier as to the source of the review.

If by Maxim, we are referring to the mens magazine, then there has to be an exaggerated super-machismo filter all their articles get put through. A review from them might be an honest critical review… from their hyperbolic point of view. Not all sites are allowed to be so narrow in their focus, especially if they espouse a general "Gamer" point of view, as opposed to "FanBoi", of course.

A Playstation3 specific site (or a 360/Wii site, for that matter) would have a perspective indicative of the culture or preferences guiding the console's community. If that community is based upon super ego and blind support for their choice, and broad disdain for the competitors, then there is to be expected certain biases.

Just like anything on the internet, content is not to be trusted or believed without risk. The risk is lessened or alleviated through due diligence. To take anything on the internet at face value is to invite the repercussions of naivety. Any disappointment surely to follow is well earned~

Fenrir
Fenrir
12 years ago

On the other Hand – some games are hyped to death like Fallout 3 and surely the online-journalists have been paid off or they don´t dare to have different opinion. But I go along with you, that there should be some more professional attitude in Online-Journalism, because many of the articles are really poor. But Inet is open to all and the reader decides to visit a side twice or not. After all it´s me who´s responsible to make up my opinion.

Evil Incarnate
Evil Incarnate
12 years ago

You have to call a spade a spade and no one does it better than you fellas at PSXExtreme. Very good article Ben!

ThePoetRazel
ThePoetRazel
12 years ago

It's the same mentality as conspiracy theories again. The one view that differs from the general consensus is believed because it makes the believer feel that they are smarter than the general populous. It's quite sad really. As most of us know "without free will there is no difference between compliance and rebellion.".
On a side note, i've noticed that since a few PSXE articles defending PS3 against "haters" got into the PS Blog's "What we read" section, PSXE has tended to produce more of these such articles. Or might it have something to do with the face that those articles usually get far more comments?
I guess everyone in the media bends to public demand in 1 way or another. And it's easy to slip that one extra degree off course.

Qubex
Qubex
12 years ago

There is always the business case for it!

Q

"i Am Home"

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
12 years ago

Personally Final Fantasy VII is my least favorite of the modern FFs.

Buuuuuuuuuuuut if I were to review it I wouldn't give it less than a 9. See that's the thing I can put my opinion aside and understand that overall it's a great game.

Guys you still remember some sites giving MGS4 8s and sh*t? Seriously moronic bastards ūüėÄ

Anyway all I care 'bout is psxextreme's review.

Orvisman
Orvisman
12 years ago

In that same issue of Maxim, SFIV scored even lower than K2!

I'll trust OPMs 5/5 reviews for both games before I trust Maxim, especially with all the universal love coming down for both games from game sites and mags.

Either the reviewer isn't a real gamer or he didn't even play the games.

kidgrid
kidgrid
12 years ago

I always like to try the game for myself and not listen to hype one way or the other. But Ben is right, you need to look at the averages. In science the high and low get tossed when you figure your average. That is what some of these reviewers need is to be tossed.

Naga
Naga
12 years ago

Just ignore these sites they're attention whores SO just go on PSU & PSXextreme for honest trustworthy reviews + daily news

But really giving a horrible mediocre game a higher score than Killzone 2 is ultimately pathetic. 50 Cent the talentless moron from popular Music channels must be proud as the review was based on 18 horrible tracks not gameplay now that's bull"***.

And Finally!! If this Sonata Arctica game Winterheart's Guild (PC only D: ) is finally released will this huge fan of the greatest band ever write Screw Elder Scrolls V this game owns all.

Sir Shak
Sir Shak
12 years ago

Why vent your anger at someone who had nothing to do with either developing the game or writing the review ?

coverton341
coverton341
12 years ago

Killzone 2: Terrible game. Too easy. FPS disaster of the year.

Final Score: 2/10

LOOK AT MEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

I am going to be the next big thing.


Last edited by coverton341 on 1/22/2009 11:09:42 AM

King James
King James
12 years ago

OMG, Finally!! This is only only vox of reason. Thank you Coverton. I knew that Sony couldn't bribe you. You always keep it real.


Last edited by King James on 1/22/2009 12:43:00 PM

coverton341
coverton341
12 years ago

You know I just see it as doing my duty and upholding the values my readers have come to expect moreover than simply keeping it real. I have my integrity and dammit no corporation is going to take that away from me. Oh by the way the new Halo Wars game is the best thing on the planet and gets the coveted 11/10 from me.

(thanks M$ for the new car)

King James
King James
12 years ago

OMG…Coverton says Halo Wars is the 2nd coming of Starcraft but on the console!!!! I gotta pre-order my copy now. Gamestop, here I come.

(At gamestop)
Yeah, I wanna pre-order Halo Wars. Yeah, I wanna cancel my Killzone 2 reserve and transfer it to Halo Wars. And can I purchase advance tickets to the Gears of Wars Movie here?

Gogaku
Gogaku
12 years ago

I agree that it's bad when sites give games low scores only to get attention, but like some people here have touched on in the comments, reviews are simply one person's oppinion of something. Of course there are technical factors in games that can't be denied, but in the end the factor that matters for most people is how fun the game is to play. And that is a matter of taste.

If I were to review GTAIV (based on the earlier installations, I haven't actually tried the 4th one) I would probably recognize some good parts, but I don't find the game style that appealing and I just don't have fun while playing it. Meaning that my review would probably be scored lower than most other reviews of the game. Is that wrong then?

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

The reviews don't bother me because as we all know, the only game reviewer that matters should be you.

I'm angered more by certain major gaming/gadget websites who employ "journalists" who are nothing more than glorified bloggers who have a huge amount of bias against the PS3. I don't need to mention the names; you know who I'm talking about. I like all three consoles and while in a blog I would say the PS3 is my favorite, as a journalist I shouldn't say or imply it because I have a sense of responsibility to the reader to not take sides.

Surprised to hear that Aaron Thomas is gone. I guess even CBS Entertainment knew he was too controversial.


Last edited by n/a on 1/22/2009 2:37:34 PM

Deadman
Deadman
12 years ago

There will always be haters Quit worrying about the negative and focus on the positive for as long as any story telling medium has been around there has also been someone who doesnt like it plain and simple. The gamers and the lovers will make thier own way, MGS4 was in my opinoin the perfect game but there were people hatin on it KZ2 souldnt be any different.

Gabriel013
Gabriel013
12 years ago

Some people seem to think that reviews shouldn't include personal opinion. Wouldn't that just leave a tech sheet?

If the reviewer is saying the pop up scenery is unforgivable and another says the pop up is bad but bearably why shouldn't this lead to two widely different scores? I've seen average review scores for some games which I absolutely DO NOT agree with and would have scored differently and franchise loyalty could very well have tainted general opinion.

Look at it this way, if you are reviewing a game and general internet opinion is that it's a 9 should you taint your own review so as not to look like attention whores? I'd rather give it the score I think it deserves and ignore scores given by all other reviewers.

rell
rell
12 years ago

I like psxe they are honest, but in the end every individual opinion count to themselves whether some people agree or not.

rell
rell
12 years ago

I like psxe they are honest, but in the end every individual opinion count to themselves whether some people agree or not.

bamf
bamf
12 years ago

I'm with an online console game rental. Its easy and cheap. I pay £10 a month for unlimited rentals and depending if you like the game or not, you can rent a few games a month which is a whole lot cheaper than if I bought them.

I do think a review is mostly opinion based. OK so you can get a game like MGS and say its visually better than anything else, but is that fact or opinion based. There is no special tools that are used to measure graphical quality in games, only a reviewers eyes. So this is why you'll see different score ratings for gfx for the same game because those reviewers in their own opinions are giving the score to how good they think the gfx are.
Some will say that Gears 2 has the best visuals over MGS, so this becomes argumuntative between both games to which looks better. So is it opinion or fact?

MGS is game of the year to many people and to me but I can understand those gamers who played MGS and didn't like it.