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April 28th, 2008, 21:21
U.K. site bit-tech.net has a column up examining the ethics aspect of game reviewing in the aftermath of the Gerstman flare-up. The short article looks at some comments made by Variety video games reporter Ben Fritz in his blog.
Here's a sample from the column:
Games journalism has had a tough time as of late, with many alleging that the industry is spotted with corruption after the woefully-titled Gerstman-gate. The onslaught hasn't finished yet either as Variety call the practices of sites like IGN in to question.

Variety's Ben Fritz has pointed the finger at sites like IGN in a recent article on his blog, questioning the integrity of sites that offer 'exclusive reviews'. The very idea of an exclusive review is, Fritz says, ethically troubling.

"How can we trust a videogame review when the outlet running it has been given a major commercial favor one that's worth money from the publisher of the game? You never see a paper or TV station getting special access from a movie studio or TV network or book publisher to run an "exclusive review," " says Fritz.

"Imagine the L.A. Times or Roger Ebert touting their "exclusive review of 'Iron Man.'" Absurd, right? So why do we tolerate it for a videogame?"
Fritz also discusses the questionable quality of 10/10 scores, publisher review 'embargoes' and how being the first outlet to run a game review influences web hits and magazine sales. You can read the full blog entry here.
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April 28th, 2008, 21:21
Good points, but not really new or original. I used to trust a few review sites, but now I don't trust any at all. I pretty much go by screenshots and gameplay videos, feature sets, and the track record of the developer.
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April 28th, 2008, 21:57
Not really new or original indeed, dr k, but the thing is these kind of things have been said over and over, but nobody seems to be listening.

When it comes to exclusive reviews for Halo 3 or GTA IV…I can't believe my eyes when I see nobody is kicking up much of a ruckus. This is ridiculous. We're talking about a mutual beneficial gain in the terms of real cash profit between a game publisher and a game reviewer.

That's not just "shady" like the parties publishers throw for reviewers or the constant soft-balling in interview land, it's just plain, all-out wrong. There really shouldn't be a discussion if it's ethical, there's nothing to discuss, it's wrong.
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April 29th, 2008, 00:03
More of such articles, the better.
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April 29th, 2008, 03:50
My favorite "review" <cough>.

http://www.joystiq.com/2008/04/14/fi…ew-perfect-10/
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April 29th, 2008, 08:50
I don't really care. Reviews aren't there to be "trusted" in my opinion. You glean them for information. If there's little information in it, it's not a good review. And when a reviewer raves about a game, it's still just an opinion. I want to read why he thinks it's so amazing, with details. Even if it's not really his honest opinion, with the right details and my previous experiences with similar games or games from the same developer, I can decide if it's a title worth having.

I mean, you wouldn't buy something just because some random person on the internet said you should?

It also helps to user read comments from the haters, just for contrast. They're usually just as biased if not more, but it does off-set an otherwise one-sided view.
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April 29th, 2008, 09:13
Look at GTA IV 10/10 almost everywhere, is it really the best game ever?
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April 29th, 2008, 09:47
The trouble is that most game journalists aren't journalists — they haven't had the Sense Motive or Gather Information training/experience "real" journalists are expected to have. (Supposedly, anyway.) Plus the game press public consists largely of enthusiastic fans who are much more likely to be upset by a poor score of their favorite game than about a good score for someone else's favorite game.

This means that the entire industry is extremely vulnerable to manipulation — both by game and media publishers.

This is a structural problem, and I can't see any shifts happening to change it. So I guess the best we can do is to continue what we're doing now — basically, ignoring the scores, and reading carefully — many of the reviews do, actually, mention some of the problems the games have, even if they don't end up in the scores.
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April 29th, 2008, 10:25
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
Look at GTA IV 10/10 almost everywhere, is it really the best game ever?
I don't think game review scores were ever meant to be compared. When I see comments like, "Game X got 9.8 and game Y only got 8.5!??!! WTF????" I just roll my eyes. There are so many factors at work that don't even apply to both games that you shouldn't think of scores in that way.

10/10 also doesn't mean perfect, like some people believe. I think game review scores are more like personal opinion, tilt scores, even. When a reviewer gave it a 10/10, he was just really blown away by it, instead of that game being an objective 10 out of 10 perfect title.
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April 29th, 2008, 14:04
If one reviewer give it 10/10 yeah it could be a personal tilt, but IF most reviewers give it 10 out of ten and calling it the best game ever???

And of course they should be compared I expect a 10/10 RPG to be a lot better than a 5/10 RPG , just look at how much better Tales of Eternia is compared to Oblivion!!! Oppps Oblivion got a 10/10 at some place and tales of eternia got a 5/10 hmmmmmmmmmmmmm,,, IT JUST MEANS THE REVIEWER SUCKS
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April 29th, 2008, 14:07
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
I don't really care. Reviews aren't there to be "trusted" in my opinion. You glean them for information. If there's little information in it, it's not a good review. And when a reviewer raves about a game, it's still just an opinion. I want to read why he thinks it's so amazing, with details. Even if it's not really his honest opinion, with the right details and my previous experiences with similar games or games from the same developer, I can decide if it's a title worth having.
The problem is that you can manipulate by not giving some information (like level scaling in Oblivion). He can choose for example only/one of few quest that was interesting and suggest that other has the same quality you can't check that information whithout other sources. Quest are very interesting and allow for many diferent approaches, for example when I was […]. Now how can you know if that is a valid representation of game whithout other sources?

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April 29th, 2008, 14:30
The ethics issues go beyond the questionable exclusive first reviews. Gaming journalists have relationships with the publishers and developers that is questionable too. They get all sorts of perks and goodies like the $800 bags of stuff that Microsoft sent out to the reviewers for Halo 3. Gametrailers TV had a brief segment on all of the cool stuff that publishers do for gaming journalists and one publisher took a bunch of them on a Zero G flight. A ticket on a Zero G flight costs $4,000 if you buy it yourself!!!

But it's not like we're paying for these reviews, so maybe they aren't unethical after all. It's like the "analyst" reports that Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns issue for the companies that are also their clients. If you get a recommendation for free then it's probably not worth much more than what you paid for it. That doesn't make it any less frustrating though that the gaming media repeatedly overrates games and rewards or encourages mediocrity.
Last edited by doctor_kaz; April 29th, 2008 at 14:37.
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April 29th, 2008, 15:18
Although not new, I believe that it is necessary that this topic is brought to the wide attention of the readers - regularly.

I personally don't believe that it is good when a small circle of very well informed people always says "we have known it always before", meanwhile the great masses remain uninformed.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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April 29th, 2008, 16:21
GTA4 was released today and its getting multiple 100% reviews. The signs from profets have become true. The new messiah of gaming has born. There are allready multiple fights on forums which console ps3 or xbox has the best version of this ultimate game. People are counting pixels and comparing sidebyside screenshots.

As long as masses are happy nothing will change.
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April 29th, 2008, 16:28
This isn't unique to gaming BTW. Car magazines regularly get in trouble because their "reviewers" are wooed big time by the auto companies.

Microsoft had (maybe still has) people who flew at a moments notice to the offices or homes of reviewers if they had the least bit of trouble. One reviewer gave an incredibly sarcastic review of one of MS's product one time about this assuring everyone that they too would have the same level of support that he had.
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April 29th, 2008, 16:50
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
Look at GTA IV 10/10 almost everywhere, is it really the best game ever?
It is as great as everyone expected - that's really an achievement worth 10 out of 10 nowadays. The hype was mostly true, wow!
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April 29th, 2008, 22:54
Originally Posted by drum View Post
It is as great as everyone expected
Shows what expectations will do for you
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April 30th, 2008, 07:45
About GTA IV:

I would never personally rate any game 10/10, as I tend to go by logical meaning. As in 10/10 is the ultimate, perfect, achievement. Such a thing will never happen and therefore I consider the whole notion of dozens of "perfect" reviews - amazingly silly.

That said, GTA IV is just about the best game I've seen in many years - but that's an objective observation. I like the franchise and I'm having fun with GTA IV (40% done or so), but it's not really my thing overall. I'd rather have a CRPG GTA in a Shadowrun setting - complete with magic, nethacking, non-scripted Deus Ex-type missions, and ninja motorcycles. But that's me.

Anyway, for once I think the hype is relatively justified - but as I said I would never personally rate a game 10/10 - no matter how good it was.

However, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that corruption is rampant in this industry, but since I don't rely on reviews and never will - I have a hard time getting worked up over yet another kind of corruption. It's unfortunate that lies are being used to sell things, but such is the case everywhere. It's a worldwide disease and to cure it, we need to let a few thousand years pass with a ton of negative experiences to guide us to a better understanding of what happens when lies become the accepted norm.
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April 30th, 2008, 23:33
According to a poll over at NeoGAF, nearly one in three customers is reporting a game-stopping issue with GTA IV (throw out the "I don't have the game" responses). How can all these reviewers give a broken game a perfect or near-perfect score?

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
Last edited by Squeek; April 30th, 2008 at 23:41. Reason: cleared up my math a bit
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May 1st, 2008, 06:52
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
According to a poll over at NeoGAF, nearly one in three customers is reporting a game-stopping issue with GTA IV (throw out the "I don't have the game" responses). How can all these reviewers give a broken game a perfect or near-perfect score?
My guess would be that their review copies weren't broken.

I don't think reviewers can predict the future, nor do I think it's fair to expect that.
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