How to Shun Bad Video Games: Understanding the Gaming-Industrial Complex

05Jun08

Did you just blow fifty dollars on a hyped up video game only to discover that it was less then stellar? If so, here are my tips on how to shun bad video games.

Wise Up: The Sordid Relationship between Publishers and Game ReviewersImage Credit: Videogamer.com

The business models of gaming magazines depend heavily on revenues from advertisements. With more gamers looking for compelling content online the competition for page views to drive up ad sales has intensified. The reviewers have two main objectives: First, review new games ASAP to drive traffic. Second, keep the game publishers happy with positive reviews. It’s gotten so bad that some publishers will limit what reviewers can mention or comment on. It’s even been rumored that Jeff Gerstmann, former editorial director of Game Spot, was fired after penning a critical review of Eidos’ Kane and Lynch.

Perhaps you’re wondering why the publishers have so much influence. They buy sway with reviewers through expensive ad buys, free gaming products and ‘exclusive’ access to games before the official release date. A reviewer who offers up an honest assessment of a crappy game risks being added to the publisher’s blacklist which usually means: no advance copies of the title to review. And as you know, late reviewers lose the page view and web traffic race. This is why you’ll be hard pressed to find a game with a rating of less than 7 on Gamespot.com.

Build Anticipation…. Wait Before you BuyImage Credit: Cheatmasters.com

Wait for the real story to come out once the hype passes. I usually wait six months before buying a new title. This also saves me money as game publishers slash prices to make room for the next over-hyped game. Case in point GTA4. You’ll find that the well-known gaming sites have given GTA4 ridiculously positive reviews. I’m sure it’s a great game but waiting has given me the opportunity to hear about the it’s strengths and weaknesses from people who are not influenced by game publishers.

If You Can’t Wait, Play the DemoImage Credit: Blogulate.com

If you can’t wait for a comprehensive review and the publisher has released a demo: go ahead and play it. This will give you a feel for the graphics, game play, and plot. After you play the demo consider when it would be ideal for you to purchase the game.

Go Indie: Focus on Independent Sources for Game ReviewsImage Credit: GameSpot

Independent reviewers tend to provide honest assessments to their readers. Remember Jeff Gerstmann? After Game Spot fired him for his critical game reviews he launched the indie game reviewing site, Giant Bomb.com

It also pays to read reviews from unexpected sources. Time Magazine reviewed GTA4 and titled it Grand Theft Auto IV: The 6.24% Review. I give them props for admitting that they only played 6.24% of the game before they wrote the review. This kind of honesty is lacking from the ‘usual’ sources.

For authentic reviews that aren’t hype-induced circle jerks you can check out the following sites:

What do you think? How do you shun bad video games?

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3 Responses to “How to Shun Bad Video Games: Understanding the Gaming-Industrial Complex”

  1. I love your site!

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  1. 1 Konami and their Gag Order on Game Reviewers (And How Companies Should Respond to Criticism Bloggers) « @MvP: Market vs. Player
  2. 2 Konami’s Gag Order on Game Reviewers: How Companies Should Respond to Critical Bloggers | Ms. Pixel

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