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Review Scores the "Least Important Factor" When Buying 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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Review Scores the "Least Important Factor" When Buying Games

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  • by thijsh ( 910751 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @06:41AM (#30235480) Journal
    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'.
    • by Forge ( 2456 ) <> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @01:11PM (#30238032) Homepage Journal
      This phenomenon is not unique to Games. I watched a TV Rerun of the Matrix last night and remembered that some Newspaper reviews were very harsh on it. That I would watch it again after all these years and loosing count of how many times I have seen it suggests that the reviewer has standards incompatible with my own. That is not the worse case however.

      There was the Mag Innovision letter to the editor after it's 17" monitor received the worst ranking in a roundup of 17" monitors. The Editor's choice award went to a Gateway 2000 monitor. The point of the complaint letter? "This is the same monitor, we just print different labels on the ones we ship to Gateway 2000." Or words to that effect.

      So as a general rule I have very little use for published reviews of any product. Word of mouth, and personal trials work best. Also it's good to know what advertisers are allowed to lie about.

      "This POS is the best on the market" -: Allowable lie.
      "This overpriced crap is great value for money" -: Acceptable lie.
      "This 500GB drive holds more data than 750GB of data without using compression" -: dangerous ground.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Forge ( 2456 )
        BTW: Neglected to mention. Editors choice awards are given out after consultation with Accounts receivables and advertising sales.

        I.e. If you want to win one, just buy lots of advertising.
  • by DCFC ( 933633 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @06:42AM (#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 ?

    • 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.

    • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @06:53AM (#30235548) Homepage

      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.

      • Ouch. What game got a 4?

        • 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.

    • by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:14AM (#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.
      • by DrXym ( 126579 )
        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.

        • >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.
      • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @09:18AM (#30236272) Journal

        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.

        • It annoys me when new games are rated lower than old ones that were worse. It's hard to figure out if a game is worth it. This often happens when a game is "more refined, but doesn't add anything innovative."

          So, is the 65 rating from 2009 better than the 95 rating from 2005? Maybe. Maybe not.

          For me, it usually comes down to which one is less crash prone according to forums. I'm more likely to enjoy something if it doesn't disappear and leave me at my desktop all the time.

      • by kklein ( 900361 )

        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 ca

      • by LatencyKills ( 1213908 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @10:41AM (#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.
        • by fbjon ( 692006 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @12:09PM (#30237542) Homepage Journal
          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: (Score:2, Interesting)

        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 sm
      • How would you explain Turning Point: Fail of Liberty? I picked that game up for a whole $3 and frankly it nor Blacksite: Area 51 was worth even the $3 each I paid for them. That is why I have started picking up my PC gaming from the Amazon bargain bin, so many of the games today are absolutely shitty console ports that at least if you pick it up for less than $10 you might be able to get your money back out of it in entertainment.

        The truly great ones like Far Cry 1 and Bioshock quickly build enough word

      • How is 7-8 reasonable for "good enough". Back in my non-US university days 8/10 would be a Distinction grade, and 7/10 would be a Credit grade.

        Surely "good enough" is a simple Pass, ie: 5-6/10?

        And "not good enough" would be 0-4/10 or a Fail.

        Averaging 8/10 would get you into the honours program of the degree, which should take more than "good enough". Heck it'd get you into the phd program.

        You must have got an amazing number of good games, the majority of games I've played I would be giving a score of less t

        • >How is 7-8 reasonable for "good enough"
          That certainly is a valid point. A previous editor opined much the same and thought as you do that an average product (i.e. most of them) should be a 5. However, people have got so used to seeing 5 as being a crap product that it would effectively mislead readers unless the entire reviewing industry adopted it en-masse. i.e., it ain't going to happen.
          We have a situation where most product is broadly similar in terms of quality and does what it is supposed to by
    • 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!
      • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

        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.

        • 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.
          • 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.
            • OK, maybe FIFA isn't the best example - what about a non game title like Adobe Elements - the last version (8) didn't add much over 7 so for first time buyers, the value is very different to existing ones, especially those on V7. One would have hoped you'd have got the thrust of the point without getting hung up about the specific title.
    • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:31AM (#30235746) Journal

      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.

      • 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 i

      • 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.

        Oblivion? Bioshock?

        Should I name others? :P

        Totally agree with your points - I tend to comb reviews for insights into how the gameplay works, and any important flaws that would detract from the experience. So far it's kept me pretty safe.

    • by Inda ( 580031 ) <> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:40AM (#30235808) Journal
      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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      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.

    • Go visit Gamespots review page []. 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 []. 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 th
    • It's A-F (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jim Hall ( 2985 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @10:41AM (#30236844) Homepage

      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. []

      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.

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

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

      And so on.
    • 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 wh

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      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

    • ... if its obviously a piece of crap, the reviewer isn't even going to bother with it.

      I think 6/10 is the low limit for anything to get reviewed.

      • by DCFC ( 933633 )

        I agree, but I think we both get some entertainment from reviews of crap.
        Also it would warn people away from wasting their money.
        Games are not cheap, and some are bought by wholly clueless adults for children. A grandparent who thinks they are buying a real treat, only to see the kids face drop hard deserve a bit of objective advice.

  • Why (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ledow ( 319597 )

    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 word

    • We just released a game that has been getting some really nice reviews, and have spent very little on promotion (we don't have any money). Everybody has different tastes. Perhaps your tastes just happen to clash with those of the reviewers you read.

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        The trouble is that your game will sink into the piles of "8's and 9's" like everyone else. There's nothing to distinguish your game from, say, a crap game from a big publisher that has bought the review. That's the problem and, unfortunately, that's why I can't trust *any* review, wherever it's come from.

    • 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.

      Exactly true. Now, reviews are all about who can provide the most perks to the reviewers.

  • I look at Gamefaqs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tonycheese ( 921278 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @06:52AM (#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.
  • Color me shocked (Score:2, Insightful)

    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @06:59AM (#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)

      • 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


    • by Eskarel ( 565631 )

      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

      • Actually, the vast majority of the bugs I've encountered in various games were just plain old fashioned bugs in their code, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the drivers or hardware configuration. They were script bugs (e.g., a dialog option remaining active when it should be gone), pathing bugs, collision or physics bugs, balance problems, AI bugs, interface problems, the occasional race condition, memory leaks, etc.

        E.g., if you think that any hardware or drivers could stop WoW from having bugged enemi

        • by Eskarel ( 565631 )

          I'm not excusing the developers. I'm excusing the reviewers.

          It's the responsibility of the developers(and testers) to design and test code appropriately to find bugs.

          It's not the job of some magazine reviewer to test out the software they're reviewing on every single variant of PC. That's not part of the review process. My point was more that while the bugs are still the fault of the developers(at least most of the time), they're often triggered by hardware or software issues which the developers may not ha

          • Well, point taken for the hardware bugs. But, as I was saying, some bugs are really independent of those. I just can't imagine how a pathing or AI bug would depend on the video drivers or whatever. I would very much expect a reviewer to mention those.

    • 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

    • by dbcad7 ( 771464 )

      Personally, I usually wait a while after the game is out and then go check user reviews

      I like user reviews as well, and especially in combination with numbers of reviews.. It tells me much more when 80 people have reviewed something and given it a good score, than it does when 5 people have.

  • by KermitTheFragger ( 776174 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:05AM (#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'.
  • by boombaard ( 1001577 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:09AM (#30235642) Journal
    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.
    • XBLArcade and PSN do have demos of games.

      Unless by demo you mean, pirate.

    • So you'll grab a torrent of a hacked up game with viruses, play it all the way through all the while bitching on the forums that it runs like crap, righteously deny the devs payment, and go on to your next theft.

      Then you'll bitch because nobody develops for the PC platform anymore.

      As a dev and a pc gamer, all I have to say to you is "Fuck off and die, you fucking thief."

      It's pathetic that you'll commit a felony for 60 bucks.

      • Exciting stuff. A felony even. Where did you get your disinformation about how you can only find "hacked up games with viruses" online, though?
        Anyway, I'm glad you care so much about your line of work, but I have bought EU3 and a few other Paradox games, as well as Civ4.
        But I don't really think a game with 0 replay factor is worth €60/50+$. And while I'm sure game development takes more time nowadays than 5-8 years ago, the current prices are just ridiculous. And yes, I might then "conscientiously" d
    • Game demos are readily available for consoles since the time of PS1; over a decade.

      Furthermore, the signal to noise ratio was actually kept high also, among other things, closed market (for devs) - with barriers of entry it was sensible to try harder. It was also sensible to focus more on gameplay, since you knew the rough limits in GFX. Most importantly there were strong forces at work - console manufacturers - that promoted development of very good games.

      And...console games have generally better resale va

  • by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:22AM (#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...
    • by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:33AM (#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.
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:25AM (#30235710) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • Amazon (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:37AM (#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 - the .com had diffferent reviews and possibly different criteria.
  • Demo's (Score:3, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @07:44AM (#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.
    • by Eskarel ( 565631 )

      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.

      • 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
        • by Eskarel ( 565631 )
          If you live in a part of the world with bandwidth caps, 8 GB(which is how big some demos are) can be a bit of a problem. It doesn't take a long time for me to download it, but it uses most of my cap, and more importantly it's as big as the full game off a torrent site.
          • I don't know of any games with an 8GB demo. Sorry.

            Maybe you should change ISP? I am from the UK, and my ISP has a 100GB/calendar month cap. 8Mb is my regular speed, I can pull 12Mb in the early morning.

            Watching 2hrs of online TV per day, playing a few online games, and downloading a demo probably every 3 days gets me to 50GB typically. Just up your allowance.
  • 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.
  • by Bazzargh ( 39195 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:20AM (#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 []

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


  • Wait a few days (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:35AM (#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.

  • 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 ha

  • 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.

  • I seem to remember us hearing about "research" like this every six months or so. Hasn't it been done to death? The majority of people buying products of *any* kind, not just games, don't bother reading reviews. It's simply not a significant factor. X-Blades was rated terribly against any other game that came out at that time, yet we got it on once the price came down a bit and have a blast with it. You know why it was panned? Because it wasn't one of the "zomfg big game hype of the yearz!"

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