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RETHINKING REVIEWS… A CHANGE FOR THE GAMES INDUSTRY

11th February 2015

Esteemed video game website Eurogamer have just announced the end of the classic numbered scoring system on their reviews.  In place of scores, they will have one-line summaries for each review, and a new recommendation system whereby some, but not all games will be considered ‘recommended’, ‘essential’ or to ‘avoid’.  As a result of these changes, they no longer will be listed on review aggregate site Metacritic, a must for many games developers.

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Not only that, but they will only review online games after launch, and will only review from the final retail versions of games i.e. no more “debug code” and likely, no more preview events. This is an attempt on their behalf to firm up other areas of their reviews policy, ensuring that they always review the same experience that one has when they buy the game.

The issue with review scores has been widely acknowledged by the industry at large. They don’t accurately depict whether a game is worth buying or not. They are based on taste, preference and experience. The same game can have wildly difference scores based on the reviewer and the same score can be awarded to two games of vastly differing quality and content. Much like film reviews, anything below a 7 is deemed unworthy of our time and thus the numbers have lost their meaning.

Since the news broke, the gaming industry have, largely come out in full force on social media supporting Eurogamer’s “bold move”.  The way we see it is this, it is largely a good thing. The words in a review should always take priority over the score at the end. Hopefully removing the scores will help people realise that reviews are one person’s opinion; they are not an objective scale of quality.

The question is whether this “bold move” will be rolled out industry wide and if so what that means for PR. Certainly the changes announced will have an impact for our clients in terms of anticipation for launch and pre-orders, however, it is likely that reviews will be more thoughtful and perhaps of greater value in the long run resulting in better sales for quality games.