Game reviews: Creating value | teko92.dk

Game reviews: Creating value

So, with an assumption that key purpose of a review is to give the reader “as good as possible” insight into whether a game is worthwhile to play, let’s look at what it takes to do so. Even discussing this is subjective but I take the starting point how I look at a review. Later, we will detail the elements to better define what is “a good review”.

The starting point is an understanding that a review is subjective. Hence, for a reader it is important to know if (s)he can relate to the reviewer. Do they even think alike? Do they have similar preferences? In movie reviews, I had a favorite reviewer once who I found very useful. He would consistently give movies of certain genres I liked a single score-point below my own perception. E.g. if it was action movie, I would simply add one star and have my own score with 95% confidence. Now, game reviews are made by so many people, and today many reviewers have become “anonymous” because there are just so many gamer sites and so many people contributing reviews. So a good review should give people a quick introduction to the person(s) conducting the actual review. Also, while most reviewers would not be inclined to do so, it would be valuable to know how much time (s)he has actually spent with the game. Too many early-bird reviews out there.

As discussed in the last blog post, it is important that the reviewer relates to quantifiable measures whenever possible. E.g. rather than stating that a game has an “overwhelming amount of QTEs or cut-scenes taking the player out of the action”, try to establish some measure as to how often these happen (once per hour, every 5 minutes) and then state whether that felt satisfying or not. For a user that enjoys story-telling buffed with cut-scenes, this may be OK whereas for others it can be a disaster. E.g. for a good review this can be stated as: When possible have an objective measure together with an important subjective opinion. In particular, for those opinions that take a big part of the reviewers overall assessment of the game.

In terms of review, it is important there the reviewer includes/discusses a large set of value elements so that the reader can better relate. E.g. maybe a game has lousy or past-generation graphics but the gameplay itself is just fantastic. For some people this disqualifies the game while for others it is secondary. A reviewer will often bring in her/his own opinion balancing these but the review should allow a separation of the different value elements allowing the reader to do an own “weighting” towards a final score. Defining those “value points” is of course difficult as the complete set of reviewers will look for quite different things. This is not to discourage the reviewer to provide a single overall score on a well-defined scoring system, this is needed for “attention” purposes, but rather to allow the reader to put together an own and personalized assessment of the game as well.

Finally, and relating a bit further to the objective measures, it has always annoyed me when the basic functionalities of the game has not been listed. A good review should provide one-stop access to the information about a game’s core functionality. E.g. does the co-op functionality work in split-screen? Or only online? How many players can compete in multiplayer? Which game modes? Do you need pass to access multiplayer (e.g. to judge whether rental is a good idea)? Etc. For some games this can be a deal breaker as to whether the game is useful or not.

As always, let me know your thoughts.