Maybe Video Game Reviewers Are Con Men

He starts with a statement that is as true or false as you want it to be: "Nobody is seriously accusing any website or writer of accepting money from publishers in direct exchange for positive reviews."

He ends with quotes from Metal Gear Solid.

And, in between, in a post tagged with such words as "IGN," "Journalism", "Kotaku", "8.8" and "Bribe", whoever YouTube user Instig8ive Journalism is damn near blows the lid off this whole game-reviewing racket.

"Please download and mirror in case this video is censored and taken down," our truthteller writes below his YouTube post entitled "Paid Reviews: Critics or Conmen? Gaming's Ad-verse Situation." (It's embedded above. Watch it!)

Who would censor these truths?

From the video: "To say there isn't at least something going wrong would only call further into question one's honesty, particularly when there is such an abysmal track record."

Ok, ok. I'm an honest man. Therefore I must yield and say, sure, at least something is going wrong.

  • The problems, as delineated in this video:
  • Vide game publishers see game reviewers as marketing tools.
  • Publishers sometimes allow positive reviews to be published before negative ones.
  • Publishers sometimes require game reviewers to not mention certain plot or technical details in exchange for being furnished with an advance review copy.
  • Publishers might not want to advertise on an outlet that slams their games.
  • Critics are often "at a loss for insightful ways of describing what they found objectionable" about a game they don't like.
  • Reviews are banal checklists.
  • Game reviewers may not know that they're biased, but "if they knew they were biased, would they tell us?"
  • All these positive reviews from biased reviewers lead the public into accidentally playing bad games.
  • Legislators are happy when this mess results in pro-American games topping the charts.
  • "War has changed. When the battlefield is under total control, war becomes routine."

Some of these things are true and worth a drubbing. Others are hilarious. But now you know.

(The embargoed-details one sticks in my craw, because it's on-point. We need to find a better way to address when, say, Nintendo tells us that our early copy of Super Mario 3D Land comes with a prohibition against launch-day reviews mentioning the game is only halfway over when the credits roll. Of course, the fact that Nintendo was trying to bar reviewers from mentioning the best part of the game doesn't fit our current conspiracy theory. Konami's old prohibition on mentioning the length of cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid 4 does. Funny how after I reported that several years ago, Hideo Kojima suddenly wasn't able to attend an interview we had planned. Almost as funny as how that didn't appear to stall my career.)

Don't let this video be censored!

Paid Reviews: Critics or Conmen? Gaming's Ad-verse Situation [YouTube]


    I've been saying this for a while. As soon as reviewers started being invited to exclusive press events at luxurious hotels, professional reviews became less than worthless.

    This is why I would make the case that a review bombed 3 out 10 user metacritic score for a game is still more reliable than a 9 out of 10 reviewer average.

    Simple fix - PLAY THE DEMO. It tells you 80% of what you need to know - you can get the other 20% from reviews from journos, the gaming community and friends who can't help but play day 1.

      Dragon Age 2 demo was a whole lot of fun. Dragon Age 2 the actual game was a huge pile of repetitive drivel.

        It's in my pile of shame and I didn't play the demo - so I can't comment either way.

        Same thing happened with John Woo's Stranglehold. The demo was brilliant, but unfortunantly it was set on the only level where they'd populated the environment properly. The rest of the game was a sloppy third person shooter with bullet-time. =(

      Are you saying that demos are not manipulated to showcase only the "best" parts a game has to offer? Of course a demo is not going to show off any of the flaws of the game, and if there are any, they just fall back on the "this is demonstration and not an accurate portrayal of the final product" line.

        Of course both are correct - however a demo is still going to be a great indicator of whether the experience of playing the game is going to be favourable for the gamer or not.

        I will admit however that there have been a few occasions where I've played the demo and loved it only to find 5 or 6 hours in that I should have saved my funds. Buyers remorse affect us all.

        Despite this I still think the demo, with assistance of other avenues, will provide the best understanding of whether a game will be fun or not.

      MMm... Technically Id agree with you, but the DNF demo didnt do the game any justice (nevermind what the reviews were saying). I got plenty of shits'n'giggles when I got the game during the christmas sale. Was more enjoyable than the MW2 single player

    I have yet to play a game that I have a drastically different opinion of than the reviewers.

      I'd say it's about 50/50 for me.
      I pay less attention to reviews than I ever have before at this point. I avoided Nier for a long time before picking it up cheaply and having it shoot to my favourite game of this generation.
      I try to use reviews more as a guide of what to expect than whether to expect it to be good or not.

    This is why I watch Zero Punctuation.

      Zero Punctuation cannot be used as an example of good journalism in this argument.

      He is paid first and foremost to "Entertain", not to write constructive reviews. Just because he dislikes most games doesn't automatically make his reviews accurate...

    The system is broken. We've all known this for a long time.

    One thing i hate more than paid reviewers is people in the community that give a game 0/10 because "1" thing is wrong even if the rest of the game is absolutely perfect.

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