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An issue I have with game reviews (a soapbox)

the8thark

ZD Champion
Joined
Oct 13, 2013
Location
Australia
Game reviews exist. They have their place and need to exist. There some from many different angles. Critic reviews, customer reviews, journalist (who haven't even plauyed the game) reviews . . . and more . . . you get the point. My issue is not about the reviews themselves, well not about the main body of the reviews. My issue is about the industry not failing to understand those the needs and time that the readers ofthe reviews have.

It's well known that a majority of the people who read game reviews, mostly scroll right down to the bottom. Some people read the final score only. Some read the summary bullet points. Why could this be?
  • They already know a lot about the game and just want the score to get them off the fence
  • They have no time to read a full review so the summary bullet points and score is the best they can do
  • Are they just looking at the review score so they can post the polar opposite score to metacritic and review bomb the game
  • Does the reader blindly believe anything that particular gaming journalist writes and feels the score is all they need
  • Does the reader dislike reading long pieces of text
  • Does the reader have the ability to read long pieces of text? Ie. is there a disability involved?
There's probably even more reasons why people don't read the reviews. That's totally fine. If someone does not want to read reviews and only cares about a number, they are missing out on a lot of good information and opinion but that's their choice. Everyone is free (in this respect) to do as they please.

We have established that a majority of the readers only read a time portion of the reviews, mostly at the end. The bottom of the reviews is where the focus should be put to grab the readers attention. This is not happening and this is where the issue is. Not enough focus is put on the bottom of the reviews to get people informed about the game they are looking to purchase. Just saying "go read the review" will be met with "No, I read the number score and that's all I'll do". How can we improve this situation to make these kind of readers more informed in their game purchasing?
  • One solution I have some up with is to not just finish up your review with a review score. A long wall of text, even if it's well formatted into neat paragraphs with just a score at the end does nothing to help this. There needs to be a distinct conclusion area that summarises the content of the review. What should this conclusion contain or not contain?
  • It should not be more walls of text. It needs to be short and to the point.
  • It should mention both the good parts of the game and the bad parts or issues the game has. No game ever made has been 100% perfect so there will always be negative things to say, but they could be writen more like recommendations, so they are said in a less harsh way.
  • What is written here should be an accurate reflection of the main body of the review. Not tell lies or misinformation in the conclusion to get a more favourable responce to the game. This has two parts. Firstly to make sure the facts in the body are accurately summarised in the conclusion. Secondly that the journalist's opinions of the game are also accurately summarised here too.
  • The formatting of the conclusions are very easy to read and stand out from the main body of the review. Using bullet points and separating the pros and cons go a long way to do this.
  • Make sure the pros and cons are balanced. I do not mean have the same number of each. I mean balance as in not having 10 insignificant pros and one major con as the conclusion without a summary sentence or two explaining this. People will see 10 pros and one con ans think it's a great game, without realising that one con could be game breaking. Just a hypothetical example. Possibly further separating the pros and cons into major and minor might help.
Here's a rough example I did up to show how the above can be applied

Screen Shot 2019-09-13 at 12.15.37 am.jpg

If you look at this, you'll see a few things. Ignore the font choice, it's the rest that I'll discuss.
  • There is clearly defined as a summary with a decently sized heading to people know to look here
  • The good points and bad points are clearly separated so people can differentiate them
  • The major and minor points are clearly separated as well
  • The major good points are in green and the major bad points are in red for a reason. Because they are the major deal breakers. Issues everyone should be aware of. Reasons to get the game or not get the game. The minor points are more nitpicks, things you can live with but need to be mentioned to ensure the whole conclusion is an accurate reflection of the main body of the review
  • Each point is concise. No additional unnecessary descriptive words are used. Describe it all in the main body of the review
  • The whole conclusion is kept short. If it's too long no one will read it
Something like this at the end of a game review will benefit everyone. Those who actually read the whole review will have a good summary of what they just read (assuming the conclusion accurately reflects the body of the review, whiuch it always should). Those who don't read the whole review (the majority) will have a quick summary of the review and can make a more informed decision about the game. A review score on it's own can never inform the reader enough to make them informed about the game they might want to purchase one day.

My Conclusion

Game journalists who write game reviews need to put more effort into the summary/conclusion parts of their reviews. Doing so will help everyone and insure more people make informed choices when purchasing games and the better games will get more sales as the reasons to buy them will be more better described to the public.
 

Jirohnagi

Braava Braava
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Game Journalists also need to stop comparing everything with sodding Dark Souls, just because a game is difficult doesn't make it Dark Soulian levels of tough, it's lazy journalism. Literally read Eurogamers "Spyro Reignited Trilogy" review and it was trash, apparantly the reviewer couldn't do the first world of the first Spyro and felt that Buzz from game 3 was the equivelent of Dark Souls.

The use of "grinding" in an review should be banned, not everything comes under it, and claiming that your grinding in a game that has none is stupid beyond all levels of stupid.

The fact that most of these game reviewers don't seem to understand basic functionality in any game, maybe the job should go to someone whose actually played them instead of being a lazy ass jounralist.
 

Dizzi

magical internet cat....
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Not everyones played all the games so the readers wont know what youre on about...
 

Spiritual Mask Salesman

~ Deus' Pug Smuggler ~
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Site Staff
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The astral plane
Since reviews can be quite lengthy, I agree that a conclusion that is a clear and concise summery of the key points is the best way to go. Unfortunately, there is no set format a Journalist should follow that stresses such a conclusion, as far as I'm aware.

I think the only way to set a trend like this would probably be to start a website for Game Reviews, build a following, eventually making an impact that shakes up how game reviews are done with Video Game Journalism.
 
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Princess Niki

Allons-y
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I don't really care about reviews, if the game sounds interesting and fun I will try it when I have the funds to do so. Only time it ever sways me is when I watch youtubers talk about more obscure titles and make them sound interesting, it's how I discovered a bunch of games that I like, like the Katamari Demacy series, Loco Roco and MySims.
 

TheGreatCthulhu

ZD Champion
Joined
Jan 22, 2016
Location
United States of America
Personally, I feel too many reviewers let games get away with murder in the performance department of a game.

It's why I make a point in my reviews to mention this, because it's just as crucial to the integrity of the game as is gameplay mechanics and other aspects of a game's composition.
 

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