Game reviews have received a lot of flak over the past few years. A number of video game enthusiasts feel like industry journalists are bought out, treating AAA games with a lot of reverence without having the quality to back it up. Simultaneously, they are extremely critical of indie or lesser-known games and have a tendency to cover these less in favor of annual releases.
Does that mean you can’t trust video game reviews? There are a few things to consider.
Why Game Reviews Matter
Backlash from critics’ opinions is nothing new in entertainment. Critics tend to praise obtuse and self-serving work all the time while panning fan-loved films as lesser.
However, game reviews have higher stakes than ones for movies. For one, games are more expensive. The average movie ticket is $12-15, more if you want to see it in 3D or IMAX. It’s even less if you pay the $3 to rent after the movie’s DVD release. At worst, you’re out twenty bucks and wasted two hours.
Video games, on the other hand, generally retail at $60 – and you can expect an additional twenty or thirty dollars after season passes and DLC. Video games are also a time investment, sometimes dozens or hundreds of hours.
Essentially, most working people can only invest in a few video games a year, so they have to make their purchases count. Buying mediocre games promoted by bought-out reviewers is a great way to sour their view of the industry.
What Reviews Matter
So, what’s the solution? Most reviewers rely on some sort of numerical system to determine value, but that has flaws of its own.
It’s not that you can’t trust major game review outlets, but they do tend to focus on AAA titles and what is hot at the moment. That’s simply their business model. They have to appeal to (what they think is) mainstream so they can generate the most revenue. It’s not always wrong, you just have to take it with a pinch of salt.
And, while mainstream journalists might like video games, remember they are journalist firsts and gamers second. As exemplified by Dean Takahashi struggling with the Cuphead tutorial below:
The next answer is relying on YouTube. There are plenty of independent game critics on the platform, but you still have to be careful. Many studios try to exchange free copies for good reviews, so you have to be careful about who you watch.
ACG is one of the best. Even if he receives a free copy of the game, he still purchases it so his money is at stake too. ACG is also thorough, covers every aspect of a game, and summarizes his review with a simple Buy, Wait For Sale, Rent, or Never Touch Again.
And it’s not just traditional video games that have independent reviews. The same goes for online casino gaming, where there’s arguably more at stake for the player, so independent and unbiased reviews are very important; luckily, there are many options available. Bonus.ca is a user driven and independent review portal for online casino games, for example. They also round up all of the latest bonuses and offers the top online casinos have available.
Video game reviews are still important and necessary in the process of purchasing games. You just have to be careful who you listen to and be varied in your research to come to the best conclusion for yourself.