Is it time to end Game Reviews?

Overwatch is broken… very broken, yet by reading the reviews you wouldn’t know it.  The game launched back in May to high acclaim and gamers were hungry to get their hands on it.  There was one gaping flaw though, the game released only half completed.  The entirety of the competitive mode was nowhere to be found.  For those people who are fine with a casual, light atmosphere this probably was not a huge issue but for those who hunger for competition and want a way to measure themselves against other people, the launch version of Overwatch hugely under performed.  One of the mind boggling things was the ratings the game received on review sites:

9.4 / 10 –

90% – Metacritic

Even giving the benefit of the doubt, if a game releases with basically half of the game not completed right off the bat that should lower the score by at least 10 if not 20 points.  It really gives pause when large review sites such as IGN are able to give a game a 9.4 without being able to even play a large chunk of the game.

One thing that is glaringly obvious is the fact that the outcry on games is directly related to the publisher.  If EA were to release Battlefield 1 with no planes and then told the gamers that they were tweaking it and planes would be released in a month, there would be riots in the streets.  However, Blizzard was able to tell the public that they were still working on competitive mode and still release the game to near perfect review scores.

The other problem is the subjective nature of reviews.  This is not a new problem and there is always going to be a level of subjectivity.  However, recently I watched an interview on IGN with the reviewer of The Division before the game was even released and before he had a chance to get his hands on the final release.  This guy destroyed the game based on what he saw in the beta and alpha builds of the game.  How did this affect the final review?  Who knows but you know at some level he went into that review with a sour taste in his mouth.  

There is also no accounting for personal taste.  There are some people who love shooters and hate MMORPGs but what happens when that MMO gamer is made to review a game like The Division or Destiny?  I personally like both genres and found that none of the reviews I read for either the Division or Destiny helped me decide if the game was good or not.  

So what should be done?  The first thing that needs to go is rating them with a number or even rating them at all.  To give something a score out of 100 or a percentage it usually means you can quantify it.  Giving a score of 9.0 based on your “gut” doesn’t help anyone.  The other problem is that my 9.0 may not mean to me what a 9.0 means to you.  You can even say Good, Bad, Worst but even that has a certain level of interpretation to it.  If you’re going to give a number score to anything, I want to see how that score breaks down with a graph of the factors you rated it on (ie. Graphics, Gameplay, etc…) but even then it’s still too subjective.

The second thing that needs to happen is that a single person shouldn’t be able to review a game.  A way to remove some of the subjectivity is to have a group of people review a game separately and then come back together to write one combined review but again, I think our reliance on numbered scores needs to end.

A quality review in my opinion would just summarize the experience without the need to give it a number.  The biggest thing would be to not say anything is bad or good, just let the reader come to their own conclusion.  If we take Overwatch as an example the review would just let the reader know that the entirety of the competitive mode was not finished and in the game yet, then let the reader decide if that matters to them or not.

Bottom-line is that something needs to change.  The system that has been used for years is no longer working and holding up in a world where people need to know what to buy and spend money on.


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