Tell Us Dammit: Do Reviews Still Matter To You?

Destiny has been out for a good few days now, and no reviews. It seems to be doing pretty well in sales/word of mouth regardless. What does that tell us? Does this mean that video game reviews are becoming less important when it comes to dictating the video games you choose to buy?

Or does it just mean marketing>reviews?

(I think that's always been the case)

I think there's an argument to be made that nowadays, people engaged in gaming culture generally have decided what games they want to purchase long before the game is released, long before the reviews come out. Reviews — even traditional reviews — play a slightly different part in the process now. Once upon a time they helped steer us toward the right purchase choice, nowadays they're just part of the broader conversation. We still read reviews. We read them more than ever. We probably just read them for different reasons: to affirm our purchasing choice, to read opposing viewpoints, etc.

In other words reviews are now just a part of the discussion we are all having about video games. I don't think that's a bad thing. I think that's a good thing.

Now if we can just move past that whole "video game reviews should be objective" thing. That would be lovely.

What are your thoughts?


    I can't remember the last time I read a video game review for something that I didn't already own.

    On the other hand, I consume a disgusting amount of footage of hands on gameplay. People might say that Giant Bomb's Quick Looks and TotalBiscuit's "WTF is..." type videos aren't reviews but they definitely perform that function.

    I think people are a little too caught up on the idea of what a review was to notice that they've changed. How people consume content these days is vastly different to the days of official magazines.

    Board games are a completely different matter. Shut Up and Sit Down do some truly fantastic reviews of games and I'm not ashamed to admit that I've spent hundreds of dollars because of them.

      Definitely agree.

      I learned a long time ago that just because I game/movie whatever is getting 10/10 potatoes from everyone, doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to enjoy it. I've got a load of old games I bought because all the reviewers said they were awesome, but after 5 minutes of play I could tell it just wasn't for me. Likewise I have lots of games that I personally loved, even though they didn't have perfect review scores.

      These days videos like "WTF is...", "Let's Play" etc. are much more valuable to me in making a decision to buy, because it cuts through a lot of the marketing bullshit and lets you see the game as it really is.

    The beta was like a demo - it was thought to be pretty good by just about anyone I spoke to. I will always take their word over any review. That and well like everyone else I talk to, we're of the opinion that "reviews" are much closer to paid adverts - just another form of marketing.

      It was okay 10/10 - IGN

        Fundamentally broken. A disappointing experience from start to what can only be assumed is the finish. This game was directly responsible for the death of several close family members. 7/10

          I think I was watching GG recently, and a review ended in "I really can't recomment this, 5/10"
          What happened to 5/10 being average? Kind of makes me feel like the actual number score is completely pointless.

            Heh. Though to be fair, '5' as lower of the scale into 'I don't really recommend' edge case makes more sense if you consider that it's not just pass/fail. We don't grade on bad, then different degrees of good... there are different degrees of bad, too.

            GG have given lower scores (eg. Rambo: The Video Game got 2/10 and 2.5/10). That's in 'don't bother' territory, isn't it?

            Last edited 11/09/14 1:32 pm

            If I remember right they did explain their scoring at one point and that 5 pretty much meant the game isn't broken, so while not necessarily fun. it is perfectly playable. Anything less than 5 is either very buggy or a broken mess.

              Well, it fit's into that formula then. This game I think was the opposite of that - it had some pretty horrible broken bits, but some bits were still fun and it could have been good.

          "Aliens: Colonial Marines is bad, guys. It is a digital nightmare from which I cannot wake."
          "So, it's a seven?"
          "No. I need you to bring me... the forbidden numbers."

        People bash IGN, and yes their reviews are broken, their articles are mostly clickbait and their commenting community is one of the worst mannered, disrespectful on the internet, which is why I mainly come to Kotaku for news and just listen to IGN's podcasts, Beyond and Nintendo Voice Chat, which are both excellent.

          At least their Prime program is fantastic though

          I love IGN Game Scoop - it's like one of those stupid footy talk shows but so much better because Video Games!!!

    "I think there’s an argument to be made that nowadays, people engaged in gaming culture generally have decided what games they want to purchase long before the game is released, long before the reviews come out."

    I agree with this point. In fact I think it also extends outside of gaming culture. For example, very few people would be waiting on a review of the iPhone 6 before they buy it. Most people already know whether they will or wont.

    Same goes with voters, a large number know which party they will vote for regardless of policies announced.

    I think there is this misconception where people need to justify their purchases by saying it is 'better' than a rival product, where in reality, people should be able to enjoy multiple games/ switch phones/ switch political parties.

    Apologies for going off topic.

    they do for me, but im not a fan of number/stars/potato scores. I want the pros and cons and to know if its shit or not.

    I use them as a guide when it's a game I'm unsure of, but sometimes I'll completely disagree with a review (e.g ZombiU which IGN said was average but I loved it).

    I'll be waiting for reviews of Hyrule Warriors before I decide to buy because I am unsure if I will like it (the videos look cool but I'm not sure I'll like the repetition) but it's really just an information gathering exercise, the number at the end doesn't really affect my decision.

      It's dynasty warriors reskinned essentially, looks cool but in true warriors form it'll be repetitive. Having said that warriors games are great fun ☺

      I like Zelda but I've never enjoyed the Dynasty Warrior games. Although I've only tried a couple of them.

      So I have to wonder if I'll like it. I also used to like Scrolling Beat em ups, like Final Fight, Streets of Rage and Capcoms awesome Aliens vs Predator game.

      Double Dragon was good but it aged a lot worse than other examples in the genre.

    Reviews are meant to be a guide anyway, but they are good to check to see if a game has some flaw that everyone picks up on, or better yet a non-PR description of the features and content of the game. (Hopefully anyway).

    In the end though, Destiny had a pretty sizable Alpha/Beta that allowed people to make a judgement on how they felt about the game,, I'd say this was substantially more important than any review could ever be. The consumer has the best representation of what they are getting themselves into.

    The Beta for me was the 2nd chance for the game to impress me after the Alpha. Now from that I could tell that the gameplay behind the game was very well polished and in general the quality was high. Whilst I can appreciate that, nothing about the story or the worlds did it for me and in the end I would much prefer to run around in the low-brow humour of Borderlands, where I've had far much more fun.

    Sometimes a review is needed to save me from the hype train. I generally have my mind made up about a purchase before reviews roll in.

    It probably saved me from Redshirt, a game I did have a huge interest in before I read what it was like to play.

    On the flip side, I have yet to grab Remember Me, because I read reviews when I couldn't afford to get it. I will get it one day though.

    Can't say the same about Redshirt.

      I was intrigued by Remember Me, but didn't end up getting it because most of the reviews I read said it wasn't very good.

      Last edited 11/09/14 11:41 am

    Yes. I use them to know what to expect. Any negative blows a game might have are reduced when they're brought up in a review. When someone says there are long loading times, I don't notice it. When a game has long loading times and I wasn't aware of it, I notice it.

    Mainly use a review to soften the blows which prevent me from complaining on the internet about it.

    and there are the times where reviews and fan feedback really saved me from bad purchases. Like Ninja Gaiden 3. Or Batman Origins.

      Yeah. I actually seek out bad reviews so that I'm well aware of annoyances before they can jump out and surprise me, to my disappointment and frustration. I do this with movies that people claim are bad, by watching things like HISHE (How It Should Have Ended) so I can smirk faintly at the bad bits and just enjoy my mindless popcorn.

      For games, it's let's plays and similar, but also Steam reviews. If a new product comes out, you can count on community reviews to tell you... a certain kind of story. And the most useful one to me is filtering the reviews to 'negative only'.

      For starters, you need to mentally filter out the terse, useless reviews that complain without getting to the core of the reason for their complaints, and the handful of, "OMG broken piece of shit won't run, devs won't help!" that inevitably spring up. (As well as the, "OMG, bought it on Desura, but totally buying it again because these devs are legends!" tongue-in-ass fanboyism, which isn't ever going to betray any flaws.)

      If you don't actually NEED to switch on 'negative only' because they're filling the screen by default, then there's probably a problem. Look closer, view some review videos. Otherwise, the negatives let you make a decision based on how major the flaws seem and whether they're part of your deal-breaker list of pet peeves.

        Problem with community reviews is that people can still be fanboys and negatively review a game based on tiny changes. Complaining about insignificant or arbitrary reasons to justify their hate. I still remember people claiming the Halo franchise was dying because Reach added in bloom. Or how any new Zelda sucks because it's not Ocarina of Time.

          Those are pretty easy to filter out. That's what I meant by filtering out the 'complain without getting to the core reason'. You wanna look for the ones that actually describe the problems they have with the game, as opposed to simply comparing them to other things or complaining about un-met expectations. That way you can build up a mental pro and con list where the cons are actually facts and facets of gameplay, rather than someone's opinion.

          And I tend not to read any positive reviews ever. It's very difficult to do a descriptive review that objectively qualifies what 'good' is, and why this is 'good'. I have a mongrel of a time with it in my own positive reviews. "I LIEK DIS." Yes, but why?

    Yes and no. I don't really care about the opinions of a stranger per se, but more so I'm interested in any points they might bring up about the game. I do tend to go back and read/watch reviews for games I'm currently playing/loving.

      When reading a bad review of a game you love.

      "Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, your opinion, man."

        It would be especially good if the reviewer were named Don... "Shut the f#ck up, Donnie."

    Angry Joe has the only accurate and unbiased reviews on the internet haha I am sorry to say but it's true.

    Prefer to see the metacritic score, love that average rating. alternatively on some reviews they have that bit at the end listing good and bad points and that's kind of helpful. When it comes to the mass of indie games on hand now good reviews sell games I think.

    I think I have basically decided what games I want this year. Previews and video game footage have helped change my mind a bit. I was dead set against any lord of the rings console game but my mind has been changed a bit by all the videos.

    I’m waiting for reviews before I go out and get Destiny but that’s only because my gaming time is pretty limited at the moment.

    I guess that means the answer is they “kinda” matter.
    There’s some franchises that I’m buying on day 1 no matter what just on the strength of their past entries.
    When Half Life 3 comes out I won’t wait for the reviews, for example.

    Destiny is a bit of a weird situation though, it’s a brand new franchise but it’s also from a company with a long history of delivering in the genre and had the world’s most comprehensive beta (that I didn’t play).
    Basically it’s a terrible measuring stick for how much reviews matter, you’d be better to have looked at day-one sales of Watch Dogs against day 2 sales (after the review embargo had lifted).

      It is oh so good. I never played Halo but Destiny is fantastic. I'm thinking maybe I should have given Halo a go.

    "Still" implies they ever did.

    I buy based on what I see on the store page, YouTube video or friends advice. When I had money, I was the guy who bought random games and made recommendations.

    Destiny had a beta so that was review enough for me to know if I wanted to buy it or not. There are some other games I buy without a review on principle (eg. I like the developers, or it has fancy art or previous entries I liked), but as a general rule of thumb, I rely on the reviews of people I know have similar interests to me or proven accuracy very heavily when purchasing games. This is especially so in an age when so many games come out each day and many big titles are being over-hyped or released in a broken state.

    Last edited 11/09/14 11:47 am

    I look for trusted opinions more than reviews. Random 'reviews' are too hard to differentiate from marketing these days.

    I have never read a review of anything before I play, read, watch or listen to it. I base my decisions on my past experiences the people around me or the common consensus of the internet

    Last edited 11/09/14 11:51 am

    I enjoy reading reviews even for games I have no interest in buying. I will visit multiple sites to get a rounded impression of any particular game and decide from there.

    Gone are the days when I would blindly pre-order every game that interested me. Have been burned too many times by crappy launches and bugfests, so yes, I believe reviews still matter.

    I do find myself watching a lot of 'Lets Play' videos these days. I find I get a greater sense for the game from watching it being played vs a written/video review. Same rule applies by watching from many sources though.

    i think the 'hype' certainly matters?
    at least then, more of my friends will play?

    but i gotta get a PS4 first... -_-

    Here is my problem with reviews. I feel like reviews should be for the readers and not a platform for people to place to give their opinions on the game. I feel like reviews are now opinion pieces rather than reviews.

    I used to be heavily into reviews back when I was reading Nintendo Gamer. Totally had an understanding of the feel of each score corresponded to how the game would be, etc. Or at least, teenage me thought so :P

    I don't know what happened since then though, after I fell out of routine in reading Hyper. These days I think I tend to decide on whether I like a game from the first announcement, in some cases that's that and I'm getting the game regardless, other times I'll be a little unsure and then guide myself in on hearsay, other times I'll be totally uninterested until years down the track come back around to it because people will start talking again.

    I'm struggling to remember the last time a read a review. Preview media/demos are what I need at this point.

    short answer : no!
    most of my game purchased are existing franchises or if my friends say its good, that is kinda a type of review. the professional reviews i dont really take notice of

    When exactly was the last time a review could be considered a proper review? Other than a few smaller sites that are easy to miss unless you're in the know, the informative review has been dead for many, many years now. Reviews these days are just overviews and lack detail. The reviewers are more concerned in creating prose or telling a story making the review more about the review itself, where the game is just the background dressing.

    The way games are promoted these days means a shift in the way we learn about them and make choices. Poetry and arbitrary scores mean little except to those who watch them specifically to troll the comments section of YouTube for the likes of IGN and Gamespot, etc.

    Depends on the reviewer. There are a few reviewers whose general opinions I know, so I can gauge what they say (one reviewer's "minor performance problems" might be another's "unplayable mess", so you need to know the reviewer's biases and tolerances). Same goes for taste in games - "Reviewer X really disliked this game for X reason, but I generally see X as a good thing, so I might try it out," or "Reviewer Z loved the wacky humour in this, but that's not generally my cup of tea, so I'll probably give it a miss."

    Generally, I'll either read/watch reviews to learn more about a game I've not heard of, to verify that a game is not for me, or to check for any glaring problems with something I'm anticipating prior to picking it up.

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