Reviewer Corruption?

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by Halk, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. Halk

    Halk Chieftain

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    I think the considered opinion of Civ 5 is that it is poor, from a significant number of people. Others consider the game to be worthy, but there can be no doubt that many people find the game poor.

    I personally played the game for a few days, then stopped, and then played the Mongol scenario for a few hours before stopping playing the game entirely.

    I bought the rip-off deluxe edition, and quite frankly I wish I'd waited 2 years until it was balanced out, there were scenarios and maps etc available and the game was mature.

    However there are stacks and stacks of reviews out there giving the game not only far more credit than it is due, but going to such a degree of hyperbole that they beggar belief.

    "Reforged Into A Masterpiece"
    "wonderful addition to a classic franchise"
    "one of the best strategy games I have ever played"
    "I cannot recommend Civ V enough to fans both old and new"

    In fact if I go to a metacritic site (one which combines reviews for an overall picture) the industry reviews are 0 negative out of 62, while the games player reviews are 34 negative out of 95.

    Statistically speaking the probability of that occurring is approaching zero (and that really does mean lottery winner hit by meteorite while spontaneously combusting).

    So the reviews are inaccurate.

    Are they lying? Are Firaxis or another related company enforcing some sort of penalty on game reviewers who do not give a positive review? Are they paying for positive reviews? Are reviewers incompetents who just lift press releases?
     
  2. Hormagaunt

    Hormagaunt Warlord

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    No, I expect they aren't lying.

    This problem has been beaten to death over the past few years. The problem is simple; if a reviewer gives a bad review then he won't be invited to review a company's later products. Want to keep your job? Keep the game companies happy.

    Of course, this is on a sliding scale; the more powerful the company, the more you need to keep in their good graces.

    Further, as has been pointed out around here, reviewers only play the game for, at most, a day. That simply isn't long enough to run into many of the problems.

    Lastly, there are a number of discussions out there about how things like a 1-10 scale actually fall out in use as an 8-10 scale.
     
  3. Aedn

    Aedn Chieftain

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    I do think review sites or reviews in general need to be taken in context and considered carefully. Metacritic does not do actual reviews, it just compiles them from various sites.

    I do think that the majority of media outlets, is basically biased due to the fact that they generate most of the revenue from the people they review. its true with sports, News, entertainment in general not just games. Its not a matter of corruption per say, its simply that the media has ceased to become a tool for the public, rather then a tool for companies.

    Additionally, the simple fact is that gaming is passing us older gamers by. Many of the posts i see on this site are about older gamers, who have been involved with computer gaming for many years, decades in some cases. The culture of acceptance for gamers these days, is 5-20 hours of entertainment for 50$ or more. Its rare for games to be time consuming and have significant depth to them. basically were in the fast food generation of gaming.

    So, i can see where you would be upset by the reviews, where as many gamers are happy with CIV 5 and its simplified mechanics. A reviewer generally only spends a few hours on a game, and with most games today thats more then enough time to figure out how good or bad a game is. CIV is trying to find its balance with its new release, still trying to appeal to the fanbase, while trying to increase it to include the modern gamer demographic.

    I like you, did not enjoy civ 5 nearly as much as previous games, which is due to a variety of reasons, but i think trying to cite corrupt reviews as a factor to blame is rather silly.
     
  4. Bibor

    Bibor Doomsday Machine

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    This whole industry needs a good kick in the nuts.
     
  5. bonafide11

    bonafide11 Worker

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    Reviews are generally based on a very limited amount of playing time. If someone played Civ V for a few hours without any prior conceptions of the game, they'll be impressed with it. It's after playing it for longer that you notice some of the flaws. Still, Civ V is a good game that is neither as good as many of the reviews said or as bad as many of the people here claim.
     
  6. SuperJay

    SuperJay Bending Space and Time

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    I don't think it's "corruption" so much as just the nature of the industry and the gaming press these days. As Aedn pointed out... you're reviewing the products of the companies that pay your publication advertising fees to advertise those same products. If your publication wants that advertising revenue, posting bad reviews of those products is shooting itself in the foot. Is it a conflict of interest? Depends on your perspective, probably.

    Think about it from the perspective of the gaming press - where's the incentive to provide detailed reviews based on weeks of gameplay? Not only is it logistically challenging (because you either have to have a large writing staff or review very few new games) but there's really no payoff for them; doing so wouldn't increase revenue in any meaningful way. Gamers just aren't clamoring for this level of service; on the contrary, our general response has become "ignore the professional reviewers, they only play the game for a few hours." As a result, most of us don't pay any attention to professional scores or Metacritic, and look to our friends and other groups of fans to provide "real" insight into a game's strengths and weaknesses.

    Maybe there's a model out there for providing that kind of deep, thorough content to an audience that is ready and willing to pay more (or pay at all) for it, but if there is, I haven't seen it yet. Most review publications are free websites where revenue comes from advertising, which brings us back to the "if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" situation.
     
  7. lschnarch

    lschnarch Emperor

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    There are many ways to influence a reviewer.
    You may present the game to him and drop some remarks ("look here!"; "Oh, this is really one of our strong points", "Did I tell you that we have created an even better AI?"; and so on) and the poor guy, most probably not very familiar with the franchise nor the genre will gladly use your input.

    Then you may mention some of the "first hand information" you've given him in the past and point out that more is to come.

    The more direct methods are invitation to dinner, invitation to special events and finally, the whole gang is a customer for "professional" media, as they are advertising.

    And now tell me how a "professional reviewer" shall articulate a negative impression?

    Today, any review below 85% (or any equivalent) for a title from a major distributor/developer means that game is not worth buying. 90% means that you really have to have some money left to buy this game.
    Nobody believes in 99% to 97% evaluations, so between decent and very good you have 5 percentages left.
    To feign independancy, games from smaller companies will get bashed, if needed.

    And the fans will wet their panties. "Oh, look! And these 93% were given from a PROFESSIONAL! He has to KNOW!"
     
  8. Wolfwood

    Wolfwood Elite Commander

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    This is the main problem. I actually work for a volunteer review site and the fact is that I enjoyed Civ5 for the first couple of weeks before the weaknesses became too apparent. Unfortunately, the reviews have to be written within a week of the game's publication - and preferably much sooner - so there's no real chance for a reviewer to get over their "honeymoon" period before they have to hand in the review.

    As a volunteer site, there's no need to bow down to the publishers and keep in their good graces. At least I've felt free to not give Razer gaming gear very good scores (if they don't deserve them), even though they are a big and popular company out there. And no one has pushed me to score them higher, either.
     
  9. Horizons

    Horizons Needing fed again!

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    The impression I have always got from games reviewers are that they are not particularly to be trusted and not particularly 'professional'. Call my cynical :)
     
  10. Zydor

    Zydor Emperor

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    I think there is a lot of merit in this view, certainly perceptions like this have impacted significantly on general views re Civ 5 on this Board. If your "expectation" is aka 5-50hrs for your $50, and a longer standing player's expectation is much deeper for longer play - that will cause a fundamental difference in views, where each "side" (short time/long time) expound views on the same game but with different assumptions / expectations.

    The latter will always lead to differing conclusions when the baseline for discussion is different - and very importantly not really known by each "side" that different baselines are being applied. Ultimately that can lead to confusion as both "sides" expound perfectly valid and correct deductions - problem is they are basing it on different baseline assumptions.

    More I think about it .... thats a classic ...

    Regards
    Zy
     
  11. stormerne

    stormerne is just a Retired Moderator

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    We are simply fools for giving professional reviews any real weight.

    Realistically, those reviews are written by people who have another dozen reviews on different games to churn out by the end of the month. They are not aimed at us. They are not aimed at those who hang out in fan-sites. They can afford to be light on playing experience.

    In future we must realize that there IS a risk when buying any new game. We must accept the possible negative outcome, and we must choose whether or not we accept that outcome before we pay our money. We are not like some entitled adolescent any more; we can grow up now.
     
  12. JP1

    JP1 Warlord

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    As has been suggested by people in this thread, and by other thread on the topics, positive reviews for Civilization does not indicate some kind of massive conspiracy, the paying-off of reviewers, threats of legal action, and so on. The likely causes for the almost unanimously good reviews by the reviewers are:

    Niche-market games with infrequent releases usually get a lot of free passes. If the series is generally good and has a lot of sequels, it seems almost sacreligious to give it a bad review... But on the other side, you have the game's fanatical fans who hold the game up to significantly higher standards than reviewers, and will likely spend about 100-1000 times as much time playing the game. (Not really an exaggerated number.)

    I think Final Fantasy 13 was the first game in the series (At least in the last decade or so) which actually got SOME negative press, even though there's a lot of flaws and points to complain about for all of the games in the series... Just talk to almost any FF fan about Final Fantasy X-2. You can find negative reviews here and there, but in general, you just don't give a FF game a bad review. Similarly, it doesn't matter that there's huge numbers of former tournament-level players of Super Smash Brothers Melee who played it at a super-technical level think Brawl is a terrible game.... It's a generally good series which no reviewer will ever give a bad review, because it's got a great history.

    Also, reveiwers have to review pre-release versions of games which are much buggier than the original ALL THE TIME. This is quite common, and they can't really be blamed when a game actually does get released with bugs and balance problems... They have to test assuming these things will be fixed, and will probably only comment on it in their review if the game was in a terribly unplayable state.
     
  13. J. Hercules

    J. Hercules Chieftain

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    I read a fair # of reviews before I bought ciV, mainly because I was excited about the game and I wanted to learn more about it. I have to say, after having played the game for over 100 hours, I would say this review by Tom Chick is the one that stands out to me the most. Although its' a bit short for my taste, it now seems like a breath of fresh air compared to the over whelming majority of overly positive reviews of the game.

    Keeping in mind this review was written for vanilla ciV, it would be hard to argue many of the main critiques of the game presented by Tom. You may disagree with the overall C grade, but I think it was a fair assessment based on the games strengths and weaknesses at the time of release. It is a pretty fun game that needed a lot of work and has some major problems as well as good features.

    Upon re-reading this review, I was surprised by how many of Tom's thoughts have been para-phrased and or cited in this forum (whether intentionally or unintentionally). To include a thread based on the "Chick parabola".

    The other thing that stood out to me was the content of the responses to this article. It was interesting for me to notice that after the initial release of the game a lot of the responses were very hostile towards Tom, often accusing him of giving overly negative reviews to stir up controversy and make a name for himself. The critics of the article (the fans) seemed pretty upset that Tom was not giving the game at least a B if all other reviews were scoring the game in the 90s.

    As the months passed and the fans racked up hours of game play, an interesting thing happens. Popular opinion swings to the point that fans are more critical of the game than of a mediocre review score. You see more and more people thanking Tom for being the one outlet of truth in a sea of obviously biased positive reviews of ciV. This swing in popular opinion actually emulates the Chick parabola which this review is centered around. At first fans love the game and hate the reviewer for daring to not give it stellar reviews. As the excitement over the new features and flashy graphics starts to fade, so to does the criticism of the reviewer himself, eventually turning into love of for the reviewer and hate for the game.

    I now use ciV as a benchmark for reviews of other games. If the reviewer of ciV vanilla scored it any higher than an 80, I automatically discard their opinion as game industry propaganda. I know this might be overly harsh and not exactly realistic in all cases, but with so many reviews out there you gotta start somewhere. Another lesson that being a member of CFC has taught me, always check the game's fan site a couple of months after release to get truly unbiased opinions of the game from the people that actually play it.
     
  14. attackfighter

    attackfighter Emperor

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    every civ game is praised by reviewers but scrutinized by the fanbase initially. it's been like that since civ 3.

    yes, game "reviewers" are essentially hacks that give automatic rave reviews to anything popular. no this practice is not reserved for civ, literally ALL anticipated games are reviewed very leniantly.

    it is just the way things are. also consider that those complaining about civ are a vocal minority, most people aren't well enough versed with civ to understand how it's different, let alone whether or not those differences are good or bad. only the hardcore crowd really has an opinion about that.
     
  15. Clement

    Clement Layman

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    The first time that ever i noticed an irreconcilably large discrepancy between a reviewers opinion that i formerly trusted and my own opinion of the game once it was in my hands was about 2 years ago.

    Since then i've noticed a lot more and i no longer care what any large reviewing group says about any game, i just go straight to readers comments now, i find that when i read enough of them i get an excellent feel for a game before i buy it, or not as may be the case.
     
  16. attackfighter

    attackfighter Emperor

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    the way I determine whether or not to buy a game is to compare the development budget to the marketing budget. if marketing budget is higher I do not buy it. I haven't bought a game for 5 years
     
  17. LordTC

    LordTC Warlord

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    Professional Reviewers don't play a game for as many as 20 hours before reviewing it, I suspect many of the non-pro reviews are done after hundreds of hours of play. If you sandbox Civ V for around 10 hours of play with no prior experience with the game then there is enough going on to keep you interested, new terrain, good graphics, hexes, 1UPT, interesting combat mechanics, etc, and that means a non-negative review.

    A lot of the people who complain about CiV mention how it gets boring after 100 hours, and once you work out the game mechanics it always plays identically because of lack of balance, I suspect these flaws are not reasonable things for a reviewer to find in 10 hours of game-play.
     
  18. pazmacats

    pazmacats Warlord

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    amazon.com needs to be banned (or bought)

    Customer reviews are really bad for business, cause 90% of the games are clones of either starcraft or doom and 95% of those clones suck.

    Good thing Civ5 is such a failure. TBS will remain dead and will not spawn tons of clones like the other genres.

    (oh, the programmer to marketing clown is probably 1:50) so...
     
  19. Thander

    Thander Warlord

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    You can pretty much put all reviewers in the "casual" group. They are coming to Civ games for the first time or maybe the last time they played a Civ game was for their Civ 4 review. They don't have time to compare and contrast everything to see if the new one is better. They might just take a quick look at their previous review before starting the new review. Most casuals love Civ 5 by the way. They don't ever play long enough to get to the boredom or recognize shallow gameplay.
     
  20. stormerne

    stormerne is just a Retired Moderator

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    I have no problem with Amazon.
    I have no problem with Amazon reviews.
    It's your responsibility as a potential customer to survey what information there is before you decide to purchase or not.

    All purchases are risks.
    If you don't want to take the risk, don't purchase.
    If you do purchase, it's your responsibility, nobody else's, and it's pointless trying to slope-shoulder the blame for an unpleasant outcome onto anyone else.

    Caveat emptor
     

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