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Portables (Games)

Preview Bias in Portable War Coverage? 100

Posted by Zonk
from the media?-biased?-never dept.
KaiEl writes "Is Nintendo being penalized in the press for releasing their Nintendo DS before Sony's PSP? That's the quesiton I ask in a recent post on The Video Game Ombudsman. While DS games are being held up to the harsh standard of hands-on reviews, PSP coverage is mostly rosy glow previews and lofty PR promises. Readers comparing the two very different types of writing might notice a "preview bias" that seems endemic to video game writing. Is this a serious problem, or am I just expecting too much from what is simply a preliminary review?"
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Preview Bias in Portable War Coverage?

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  • I've never heard of such blasphemy! You must hate America!
  • Answers (Score:5, Funny)

    by christopherfinke (608750) <chris@efinke.com> on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @05:22PM (#11484933) Homepage Journal
    Is this a serious problem
    No.
    am I just expecting too much from what is simply a preliminary review?
    Yes. Any other questions?
    • You can't compare PSP previews with DS reviews - reviews have a much stricter standard simply because previews relate to unfinished product and any fault found with a preview product may be something that is not yet finished. In reviews however you have all details in the game you're playing and this is the final word your publication will have on this game.

      Personally I feel that the DS is just an upgrade to the gameboy series, Mario 64 DS is the only game I'm interested in so far whereas the PSP has more
      • by Anonymous Coward
        PSP has a very threatening shape; like a giant penis!
      • I feel the opposite way. I see the PSP as basically being a portable Playstation (duh, considering the name); so far the system seems to have a lot of ports from it's bigger brother, the PS2. While there are ports and reworked versions of games for the DS (Mario64 and Mr. Driller), the fact that the system has a touch screen allows for different types of gaming as compared to another portable. Games such as Feel the Magic wouldn't be practical on the PSP. The one thing I see in both systems, however, is th
  • Whodawazat? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @05:25PM (#11484971) Homepage Journal
    Maybe we're reading different material, but at least 80% of all reviews I've read were glowing towards the DS. Given, I don't really read all reviews put out, but I don't stick to just one site or one magazine, either.

    One thing that may throw you is that a lot of the reviews took their time hypothesizing what a certain feature could be used for. The idea of a dual screen is nothing new, but the idea of a dual screen with a touch pad is.

    If there is a bias, it's probably not 'against Nintendo' as much as it is 'for Sony'. By that, I mean that it doesn't seem that people are going out of their way to attack Nintendo, but they are doing so to boost the PSP.

    In the end, though, I personally don't care. I'm more than happy with my GBA SP.
    • I agree with you. Have a spot. Now put it on your post. Cuz it's like...spot on...

      Anyway, when everything is in a preview state it gets rosy, glowing coverage.

      The reviews are where people get harsh. Pay no attention, and wait...like the rest of us.
    • I agree... the Apple/Nintendo comparison is again well deserved - much of the gaming press grew up on nintendo, and tends to see everything they do with rose-colored glasses, and as a result refuse to acknowledge *anything* wrong with anything Nintendo does, unless it's a complete and utter flop (i.e. VirtualBoy)
    • If there is a bias, it's probably not 'against Nintendo' as much as it is 'for Sony'. By that, I mean that it doesn't seem that people are going out of their way to attack Nintendo, but they are doing so to boost the PSP.

      There sure as hell is a bias against Nintendo over at EGM. How exactly do GTA:San Andreas and Halo 2 get perfect 10's? Especially since I can point out maybe a dozen or so very real problems with Halo 2 after a half hour of playing. (c'mon, even if you like it, it's not perfect, even

  • DS vs PSP (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Jezzerr (414452)
    One of my friends works for a well known publisher coding for both the DS and the PSP. He's got hold of a DS here in England months before the public starts hearing about it

    He's also coding one of the release titles for the PSP

    The verdict is that the PSP will definatly be the better of the two, not only in hardware but also in games released. He's not writing the DS off totally, but the PSP will probably be the most popular. And this is just his opinion, he could be completley wrong.
    • That's nice, but what does that have to do with his questions?
    • by Ayaress (662020)
      You're being biased! I'm telling Slashdot.

      Ok, yeah, I'm bored.
    • They weren't even too keen on them in the NES and SNES days, they went SEGA-->SONY-->inching towards microsoft. So if your gaming taste is soccer games, rally games and the like, definately buy the PSP. I'll go with the DS and get the nice japanese RPG's and the innovative end products of japanese Psilocybin consumption ^_^
      • by DeadScreenSky (666442) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @03:40AM (#11489981)
        Actually, it's Nintendo that hates the English (and the rest of Europe to boot). They are infamous for their poor PAL conversions, late release dates (waiting more than six months for a huge game like Metroid Prime is not unusual), ridiculously high prices, just not bothering to release certain big games (Animal Crossing for example), and even (recent) masssive price fixing that has pissed off multiple governments. It's no wonder Europeans favor non-Nintendo companies like Sony and MS! (Which both incidentally also work with a far higher amount of European developers, too. Much of the PS1's huge success was due to European games like Wipeout, and Xbox has had large success with games like PGR2 and Rallisport Challenge.)
        • While you're definitely on the mark with regards to games getting horribly delayed for no good reason in the EU, it is getting slightly better. Some notable GBA titles recently have been released in the EU first or almost at the exact same time. The only one that comes to mind is Advance Wars 2, but I know it's not a one-time thing. Also, the EU got a better version of Metroid Prime, with voice feedback warnings, patched bugs, vocal story narration, and a cranked up difficulty level. You can read the GameF
          • While you're definitely on the mark with regards to games getting horribly delayed for no good reason in the EU, it is getting slightly better. Some notable GBA titles recently have been released in the EU first or almost at the exact same time. The only one that comes to mind is Advance Wars 2, but I know it's not a one-time thing. Also, the EU got a better version of Metroid Prime, with voice feedback warnings, patched bugs, vocal story narration, and a cranked up difficulty level. You can read the GameFA

        • Someone better tell my little brother then...we're in England and he got Animal Crossing for Christmas...and it's most definitely PAL. He's been Tom Nook's slave for weeks. Evil, evil game. :)
    • Re:DS vs PSP (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MilenCent (219397)
      I'm starting to think that the DS will be more popular, but for a completely different reason:

      Nintendo owns the under-18 set, and portables are simply much more interesting when you both don't personally don't have the money for a good home entertainment setup (such as is used for consoles), and when you have school to go to every day.

      Of course, adults go to work, but they tend to have much more dire perils for being caught playing games. (Ranging from getting fired to looking really dorky.)
    • are not good ways of gauging a final product. A beta developer's DS? Whoopie, you do know that developer versions often come with flaws just because they haven't even decided on what color to paint it right? Hell just look at beta PC games, sometimes they don't even release the cover of the final product until a few weeks before launch and you expect companies to have the HARDWARE nailed down MONTHS before launch? You have to be pretty gullible to take your friend's word that quickly.
      • Of course the hardware is nailed down already. Both systems have been released to the public!

        And yeah, they do have the final hardware ready months before launch. Otherwise developers can't make sure their games actually work on the real systems. Maybe even more importantly, they kind of need to start manufacturing the things!
    • he's a programmer. He's going to side with the console that gives him more power, and makes it easier to realize his vision as a developer. Heck, given the choice I'd much rather be turned loose on the PSP hardware than the DS. But as a consumer who's going to be lugging the thing around and having to keep the thing charged, I'll pass on both and stick with my GBASP.
  • by Nomihn0 (739701) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @05:44PM (#11485205)
    Despite the PSP's geeky allure, Nintendo is still the standby brand for millions of parents around the world. When a child says s/he want a portable game system, by default s/he gets a Nintendo. Most adults don't know to compare price, performance, battery life, and game selection when making a purchase for their child. The Nintendo DS might be getting worse press because those who read reviews are likely looking forward to the PSP anyway. Nintendo's largest consumer population doesn't know the difference.

    The tough treatment of the Nintendo DS could also be the game industry itself knowing its most profitable market, somehow channeling this wisdom through reviewers? Reviewers appeal to die-hard gamers by being harsh on what's current while oggling everything in the future. Preorders ensue and the cycle repeats itself. I remember the previews for Beachhead 2000 being plated in gold, while the game itself was one of the worst of the year. This is SOP in the industry.
    • Nintendo is still the standby brand for millions of parents around the world

      In fact, I would even go one step further. Much like most people don't say they are going to photocopy a document but rather Xerox a document, or that the need a Kleenex instead of a facial tissue, an awful lot of parents buy their kids a "Gameboy", regardless of the actual name o the portable gaming system they actually procure.

      • Portable gaming system::Gameboy Portable audio player::iPod Operating system::Windows Web browser::Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer (depending on whether the person is used to a Windows or Macintosh OS) There are many more examples of this, but you hit the most prevalent ones.
    • "Nintendo is still the standby brand for millions of parents around the world."

      Maybe in the handheld market, but "Playstation" has replaced "Nintendo" (as "Nintendo" replaced "Atari") as the generic name for a video game console in the home.
  • by Keith Russell (4440) <keith@russell.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @05:57PM (#11485357) Journal

    Apparently, somebody isn't familiar with the typical cycle of game reviews:

    1. Well-known studio announces latest title.
    2. Typical Game Review Site (TGRS) says "This is gonna be great!"
    3. Studio gives first carefully controlled press preview.
    4. TGRS says "This game will rock your world when it's done!"
    5. Studio gives next carefully controlled press preview.
    6. TGRS proclaims "Game Of The Year material!"
    7. Studio releases game.
    8. TGRS review summary reads "Don't believe the hype. It sucks."

    DS games have had hands-on reviews, while the typical PSP title is still enjoying the butt-kissing that comes from a well-orchestrated demo to the TGRSs.

    • You got exactly the point. however you could have summed it up.
      • Preview: Wow! this is best game ever, your life has a new meaning!
      • Review: not so bad, its a standard game but it still kind of rocks. buy it!
      • News flash: A new game is coming 100 times better than [insert game here] your life has a new goal now!

      Repeat cleanse rinse.

      Magazines and sites in general dont give a crap about old products (which you already own) what they want is to hype products you are considering buying. And while they can lie

  • what else is new? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pilott (732030)
    I don't think it should come as a suprise to anyone that PREviews are generally more positive than REviews. Critics (and people in general) have less information on pre release stuff, and they are more willing to overlook defects that 'will be fixed' in the final version. Actually having the final product in your hands, you can spend some time to find all its flaws. Those flaws stand out more too, because the developers chose to leave them in (or didn't QA it enough to find them).
    • It's also assumed that preview readers mostly want to see advance information about the game, and aren't interested in a quality assessment of what is likely still an unfinished product.

  • -- Homer Simpson
  • This totally reminds me of the issues that Sega had with the Dreamcast. A great system, but had to deal with Sony and everyone else coming after.

    There's two ways you can launch your system. One, you can launch first, try to capture an audience while there's no competition. Two, wait it out make your product the best, because it's been in development longest, then launch and catch up.

    The preview bias exists because Sony with the PSP won't allow crap to be shown. People are excited about a Metal Gear ga
    • You are assuming that just because a system comes out later, it means it was in development longer, and you imply that longer development is better (which is usually is, but your kind of off your mark). I have no idea what the Dreamcast development cycle was compared to the PS2, but the Dreamcast had solid release games, and the graphics of the Dreamcast still rival that of the current generation PS2 games (IMHO, one example would be Soul Calibur for DC versus Soul Calibur for PS2).

      I definately agree with
      • I miswrote. I think the impression that the consumer gets is that because it's coming out later, it's been in development longer, has newer, better technology, regardless of actual development time or technology.
    • Actually its a STRATEGY game.
  • by Spankophile (78098) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @07:26PM (#11486306) Homepage
    Previews are ridiculous.

    up until recently, I worked at a place making an FPS, and I was always astounded at howpositive, or at least "neutral" the previews were. We'd cut them a build and think "Oh man, this is so shit" and we'd get back reviews that say things like "This game shows a lot of promise!" or "We can't wait to see the finished game!!" and other such BS previews. Half of the material in there was marketing crap as well.

    So. Yes, I agree it is a problem. While we still suffer from IGN-style reviews (their rating system goes from 9.0 to 10.0 I think), the previews are even worse.

    If the previews were bad, they wouldn't get all the nice free crap from game companies, and they wouldn't sell as many ads.

    i don't know what my point was.. but previews are definitely waaay too generous.
    • Writing/Reading about computer games is a lot like talking about sex. People seem to talk a lot more about sex when they're not getting any. People buy computer games to play computer games; they buy magazines to find out about the computer games that are coming.

      The journalistic difference between previews and reviews is that the former often requires a special relationship with the manufacturer, while the latter has stuff that can be bought off the shelf (even if it is sent in advance to journos). To get
    • You worked on Duke Nukem Forever? ;)
    • Part of the problem though is that for all intensive purposes, a lot of times they DO show a lot of promise. Mostly because the reviewers are promised things in the future like feature X or feature Y, so they preview it assuming that the game will rock much more once it has those features. Of course, we all know how often every feature gets included.

      And honestly though, I don't think you can judge a game too much based on the preview, unless the games gone gold already.

  • Japan? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shibbydude (622591)
    Is it just me, or is this product already out in Japan and in competition with the Nintendo DS? I was under the impression that most of the reviews were running on actual hardware.
  • I suspect it's because Nintendo doesn't spend enough to buy off the press, but Nintendo never gets their fair shake. How many articles about the impending doom of the never-profitable XBOX have you seen? How many times do you see Sony taken to task for features they never deliver? The PSP is a prime example. People keep talking about UMD movies and music when Sony's own studios haven't committed to supporting the format.

    At E3 Sony brought a PSP unit that had to be fed by internal computers. It didn't even
    • "How many articles about the impending doom of the never-profitable XBOX have you seen?"

      None, because any journalist worth his salt knows damn well that Microsoft has more money than God, and won't pull the plug on the Xbox until they're good and ready. Nintendo has no such luxury.
  • No big surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by supabeast! (84658) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:27PM (#11488291)
    1. People would rather read PSP hype because it fills them with anticipation, even if they aren't going to buy one. All of the people who were excited about the DS and didn't buy one are over it.

    2. The DS isn't worth writing about right now due to a lack of interesting games. How many screenshots of Metroid Hunters do people really want to see? Until Nintendo and third party developers start pumping out software don't expect much more than "ho-hum, Mario 64 is just as cool as it was in 1996, BFD."

    3. Adult gamers got burned with the Game Boy Advance software lineup being almost entirely of horribly designed, unplayable children's games with TV and movie tie-ins. Because of this, most game magazines relegated Game Boy news to the back of the magazines. EGM even gave Seanbaby a column to mock all those crappy Game Boy Advance Games. Readers have responded well, so why wouldn't the press be fine assuming that reader's don't really care about the DS?
    • Actually, some of my favorite games from the past year have been GBA games, or inspired by GBA games. I think the problem there is that there are quite possibly more games produced for the GBA than any other system, and in the overwhelming flood of crap the true gems get missed.

      Of course, that happens with most gaming systems.
  • Disregarding the possibility of out and out bribes, game reviews show up on gameing web sites and on gaming magazines. The bulk of the revenue for those sites and magazines is from advertising.

    Sony is, at this time in the game industry, the giant. It has a huge installed user base. This means many games are published for it. This in turns means that more money is spent advertising on Sony's platform then Nintendo's.

    It would not be wise for a magazines to anger Sony by being harsh on the PSP until afte
  • Well, I own a DS, and the preveiws, I must say, reflect it accurately. It's not nearly as good as the PSP. The PSP promises to have better games. There is no one that can even begin to argue with me about how shitty the DS games are right now. Soon they will get better, but there is only good game right now, but it's a port from a 9 year old game... Still, I play it and I love it. The PSP gets better preveiws simply because it is a better system. The specs and the game library are awesome, the DS can hardly
  • It's this exact type of hype that fanboys bought into that killed the Dreamcast. Typical Sony marketing machine agenda is as follows; 1: Announce platform and state that it's gonna blow the doors off anything else in existence. 2: Announce ports/sequels of titles from previous platform, and then accuse competition of lacking innovation and originality. 3: Show demos @ trade show-actually running on a $100,000.00 workstation-Sony fanboys begin to salivate. 4: 4-6 weeks before platform launch, leak t
  • Have you given the DS [lik-sang.com] a hands-on? It is clearly not a work of love in comparison with the GBA or GBA SP. It is the work of marketers and executives [bigticketb...photos.com], who, by definition, can only love yen -or dollars-.

    Forget about PSP. DS's mediocreness as a product needs not outside of brand comparisons. The press should be looking into Nintendo to see how could they come up with something as appalling as this. I have a hunch the responsible will not be found among technologists or artists.

  • I would like to refer the original poster to the fact that the PSP has been in release for over a month. I don't know how the original poster could not have know that. Sure its only released in Japan, but the current release is not all that far from the US release, in fact it already has english language menus on its GUI.

    Thus, for well over a month, there have been no previews of the PSP. They are all based on actual working units in consumers hands.

    And, by the way, it is simply phenomenal. This is not ba
  • I don't understand why everyone has to treat this as a "Zero sum" game. Both can succeed, because I think they appeal to different groups. As usual the Nintendo appeals more towards kids, and people loyal to the brand, while the PSP is more appealing to adults and techs. Although I still think PSP will have much less sales then the DS because the primary buyers of portables are kids. I personally have no use for either cuz I'm the one who drives, i don't travel often etc...but when I was a kid I used po
  • by AzraelKans (697974) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:15PM (#11494422) Homepage
    Probably you dont know it but theres a rumor about a gba 2 in the works (sort of a portable gamecube) actually if you read back in the revolution rumor article slashdotted a while ago you will notice the system will lack DS support, but will support the "gba succesor".

    The DS (as everyone knows) was a way to keep the PSP at bay (actually Nintendo never called the DS the GBA succesor) so .. although unconfirmed, the fact that they never called it a "succesor" is a bit worrying.
    Of course this is great news for everyone except for those who actually bought the DS. how much time will the DS be in the attention span of nintendo? (a year maybe 2?) You may want to pay attention to the early signs, lack of advertising, lack of titles or big titles being produced (in the future) etc. (You have to take into account a major such as a 3d rpg title needs a good 1-2 year timespan to be produced)

    Of course this is all rumors.. however we have to wait until e3 where "revolution" (apparently) will officially be announced and hope they mention DS support or any word of a gba succesor.

    P.S. Even if this rumor is true, it doesnt mean the DS is dead, revolution is rumored for a 2006 release, the gba 2 is not even dated yet, so thats a 1-2 maybe 3 year expected life period for the DS however it does mean it may have less attention and titles than those initially expected (specially from third party publishers). And if theres an actual GBA2 in the works, the PSP may be facing some serious problems in the coming years

    And before you mod me down, please research a bit, the rumors do exist and so the official statements where Nintendo specifically mentions the DS is not the GBA succesor.

    So go ahead MOD my day
  • And so continues the saga of completely inscrutable Slashdot headlines!

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