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why do reviewers never say a game is s*** in previews?

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November 1, 2008 1:11:53 PM

hav u noticed that reviewers hav never mentioned a game is crap when they do a hands on preview like quantum of solace mercenaries 2, hells highway, forced unleashed, stalker clear sky etc? I mean if they tried the game b4 won't they have noticed any serious problems with the game, i've never heard negative comments about games before they were released and then i read a review and its only like 5-7.
November 1, 2008 1:19:17 PM

darthvaderkenneth said:
hav u noticed that reviewers hav never mentioned a game is crap when they do a hands on preview like quantum of solace mercenaries 2, hells highway, forced unleashed, stalker clear sky etc? I mean if they tried the game b4 won't they have noticed any serious problems with the game, i've never heard negative comments about games before they were released and then i read a review and its only like 5-7.


Because the small pieces given out for preview are handpicked by the developer to show only the best parts of the game. It's an incomplete picture.
November 1, 2008 3:15:19 PM

Indeed, Dagger is correct. Previews are an extremely controlled situation. You usually play a specific piece for a limited amount of time and any problems you do ask about will get the response, "Remember this isn't final code." I try to point out possible problem areas with a game in a preview but I don't feel comfortable coming out full bore against it since it is a work in progress.

However a developer will usually not do a preview unless they can lock down a working area and make it fun for 15 minutes.
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November 3, 2008 5:34:19 PM

Its the old hype vs. reality. Some new game is previewed to death and it can almost never stand up to the hype.
But like Travis said, first impression and full on review are very different. Its hard to get the full idea of a game from just 15 mins of play.
November 3, 2008 7:27:43 PM

Heya,

Actually, it has nothing to do with what the devs give out. If that were the case, nearly every game would be considered near crap. Sure, sometimes, a `demo' or show off can be really exciting. But really, it's incomplete, so no verdict, not even "it's good!" should be given.

The real reason you don't see professional reviews that say this game is awful, save your money is because that's NOT good business for anyone. A big site slamming a new game will get a lot of negative feedback from people who are interested in selling that game and games related to it. These big review sites don't make money enough to just do things like this; they survive a lot by basically getting free stuff, reviewing it, and then giving it back (unless some places gives them software for free). Usually there's some kind of exchange or contract here. A company that makes a game and hands it out to reviewers only to get slammed and the readers told it's garbage isn't going to be handing their game back out to reviewers again, as it will no doubt hurt sales. Think about it.

These games are not exactly crap though. You have to understand that people tend to go black & white when it comes to games. You either really like it, or really hate it, it seems, when it comes to telling people if it's worth playing/buying. Really, all games are `playable.' But obviously not the same talent goes into every game. And we tend to put various titles high up and compare everything to them in the sense that they come close, are similar or simply can't match it and thus are crap.

So again... how do you make money by telling everyone that near everything is basically not worth their money? Because seriously, how many good games, according to us who play them, actually come out each year?

The other problem is scaling. Why have a scale of 1 to 10, when everyhing, literally everything, always scores at least a 7 out of 10? How many 4's are there? These are the games that just are crap and manage to actually turn on. 5's would be average on a scale of 1 to 10, meaning, nothing special but not horrible. According to all review sites that use that 1 to 10 scale, everything is above average. EVERYTHING IS ABOVE AVERAGE on these scales. EVERYTHING. And it's completely stupid.

Adjust the scale to 1 to 5 for example, and 2 stars would be average, 3 would be just over average. We should see a lot of 2's and 3's out there. A few 4's and maybe one or two 5's a year.

Alas, in my opinion, the only reviews worth actually taking serious are reviews that don't use scales but rather just tell you how the game worked out, bad or good. How often do you find reviews like this? Yea, like, hardly ever.

Very best,
November 3, 2008 7:43:29 PM

^ + 1

I think money does play a huge role in it as well as relationships between publishers of game review magazines/sites and the game developers. You'll notice too how games that get early reviews are always overrated. The most recent example is Far Cry 2 getting a 94% percent in PC gamer when the game is nothing too special, definitely nowhere as good as Half Life 2.

Thankfully Tom's does give much more realistic reviews for games, there have been threads on here where the reviewers state that they intend to use the full scale while reviewing, and for the most part they do. On the other hand, they aren't getting advanced copies of the game to have a review out on the day the game comes out. Probably this has to do with the smaller community for Tom's games at least in part. I still think they overrated FC 2 as well, but hey I guess some people like the game.
November 3, 2008 7:59:59 PM

I won't point any fingers in any particular direction but I will say that, yes, often-times deals are reached between media outlets and publishers. Those deals involve agreements that will benefit both sides (i.e. an exclusive review for the media outlet and a positive review for the publisher).

I wrote a column on this sometime ago.
http://www.tomsgames.com/us/2008/04/22/column_perfect_s...

We (Tom's Games) have the attention of enough publishers so that we can usually get the product near the release date, but we still have to play it and beat it. We don't do reviews until the game is beaten (where "beating" a game is applicable). That's why our reviews go up later than a lot of other sites.

We may not get exclusives or early reviews, but know that we are playing retail copies of the games (meaning the exact same version you would buy in a store as opposed to late beta code or press builds), we're playing it all the way through and we aren't using any cheat codes or walkthroughs (that sometimes accompany games sent to press).

/loud-mouthed bragging :) 
November 3, 2008 10:42:38 PM

tmeacham said:
I won't point any fingers in any particular direction but I will say that, yes, often-times deals are reached between media outlets and publishers. Those deals involve agreements that will benefit both sides (i.e. an exclusive review for the media outlet and a positive review for the publisher).

I wrote a column on this sometime ago.
http://www.tomsgames.com/us/2008/04/22/column_perfect_s...

We (Tom's Games) have the attention of enough publishers so that we can usually get the product near the release date, but we still have to play it and beat it. We don't do reviews until the game is beaten (where "beating" a game is applicable). That's why our reviews go up later than a lot of other sites.

We may not get exclusives or early reviews, but know that we are playing retail copies of the games (meaning the exact same version you would buy in a store as opposed to late beta code or press builds), we're playing it all the way through and we aren't using any cheat codes or walkthroughs (that sometimes accompany games sent to press).

/loud-mouthed bragging :) 


And this has been noticed and appreciated. I usually use game informer for first impressions and if I am still not sure, I just wait for you guys to tear into it. While I don't always agree with your verdicts and values, you usually give enough info that I can figure out if I would enjoy the game or not.

That said, yeah I have definitely noticed that previews are never ever negative. Even on games that later get absolutely panned by reviewers, sometimes even the same reviewers who previewed it. As a result I don't consider the preview an opinion piece, but just an informational one. It provides me a bit more detail on how the game plays so I have an idea what direction the developers are going in.
November 5, 2008 12:16:25 PM

Anyone got a couple hundred dollars lying around? We can start a review site.....by gamers, FOR GAMERS!
Seriously though, i would think a lot of people check the likes of Toms Hardware forums and other similar sites for gamer opinions on a release before commiting to buy.
November 5, 2008 1:23:40 PM

this comes back to a discussion on here a few month ago, the majority of gamers agree that the 1 to 10 system isnt accurate however we have all adapted to it.

for example i will not buy any game that scores 7 or less, score of 8 means i might pick it up in the bargain bin, 9 its on my list to look out for, 10 definate buy.
November 5, 2008 1:28:38 PM

Sample case: Madden 2009

Whats new from 08: Updated graphics, online "franchises", "dynamic" difficulty

Cons:

Gameplay still needs major tuning up; defenders still slide of oline blockers, etc.

Online franchises are broken (NCAA had 117 teams, why can't madden get 32 working right?)

The dynamic difficulty adjusts per game, not over the lifetime of the player, so it never "sets" right.

Bugs exist (WR direct snap anyone?)

Still laggy online/disconnect glitch

Serveral game modes (Superstar, Franchise) are broken.


Looking at previous Maddens, 09 made no progress, and deserves a 6 (no reason to buy if you own 08). But in a vaccume, its still a good game, so it gets a mid 8 by reviewers.
November 5, 2008 2:12:38 PM

Quote:
Anyone got a couple hundred dollars lying around? We can start a review site.....by gamers, FOR GAMERS!
Seriously though, i would think a lot of people check the likes of Toms Hardware forums and other similar sites for gamer opinions on a release before commiting to buy.

Starting up a site wouldn't cost much, it's getting the games without getting freebies from publishers that would run up the cost. Would be fun though.
November 5, 2008 2:21:48 PM

The hardest part would of course be getting a readership worth mentioning. The video game review space is rather congested as it is and we would have to develop a business plan AND have backup cash so that unexpected success wouldn't kill it.

What happens to a lot of content providers on the internet is that they get an unexpected boom of visitors and their server cannot handle it or their ISP cuts them off. Then instead of benefiting from the boom they crash and burn because they can no longer afford the bandwidth to keep it live and the advertising money will take too long to come in and might not even be enough to cover the increased bandwidth costs.

If you do not have an action plan in place this could easily kill off a startup.
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