Yesterday I posted a feature called "Video Game Reviews Are Broken, Please Fix." I received quite a few emails on my arguments, but wanted to share this one that I received from Brendon Lindsey, Editor-in-Chief of GamerNode. He offers the interesting perspective of an established review site that finds itself conforming to norms set by industry heavyweights.
Hey, Marky Mark. (Alright, got that out of the way early.)
Anyway, just wanted to shoot you a line saying I agree with most of what you said. I've said it in the past, people from sites I can't stand...have said it in the past, and we'll all say it in the future: gaming reviews are just not done correctly.
Unfortunately, I've yet to be able to find a reasonable and realistic answer for this. The fact of the matter is, reviews on most sites not pulling in the moneyz like IGN and GameSpot are driven by what publishers send out for review. They don't want you to experiment on a score (trust me, I found that out the hard way when I tried to do an entire review in a back-and-forth chat between me and a writer...).
The biggest problem, though, is just the gaming press and readers in general. If you review games and aren't a Top 3 or 4 site, no one will care unless you're on Metacritic or GameRankings. Unfortunately, to get on those you need to follow the tired and cliched rules; 7ish = average, 10 = perfect, etc. I've tried to switch to 1 = game blows, 5 = it's okay, 10 = it's a lot of fun type model a few months back, but guess what? Sites that keep reviews pulled me off until I "fixed it"
Until GameSpot or IGN radically changes how THEY review shit (and I don't mean 'hey let's add pretty pictures and only score in .5 increments!') no one will accept changes made on other sites, because if the big ones don't do it, it doesn't count. How many people who read 1Up actually pay attention to their scoring system? You STILL see a ton of "OMG a 5!? A 5?! It's not a bad gaem!" posts.
Brendon Lindsey Editor-in-Chief GamerNode.com
Reviewers, publishers and developers agreeing or disagreeing—my email's on the side of the page. Names can be withheld by request.