As of late, it seems that no #videogame launch is able to take place without a hitch. As a result, game #reviews have become an increasingly controversial aspect of the gaming industry as developers attempt to keep sales numbers up.
With so many new titles being plagued by issues — such as the content not being what was initially promised by developers (for example, No Man’s Sky) — or the game being hampered by a number of different #gameplay and performance glitches (for example, Mafia III), consumers have come to rely on reviews as a method through which to determine the worth of a game.
Generally, developers provide #gaming media outlets with early copies of titles in order to ensure that a review of said title will be available before it's released to the general public. The public is then able to make a decision on whether to buy a title on the basis of this opinion.
With industry giant #Bethesda recently announcing it would no longer be sending advance copies to reviewers, one has to wonder if, in the future, early reviews will still prevent gamers from buying new titles that are substandard.
Why Game Reviews Are Important
While it is definitely not the only factor in determining the sales of a new title, there is no denying that positive or negative reviews have the ability to bolster or reduce a specific title’s revenue.
There are several examples of that, starting with the Assassin’s Creed franchise. One may have previously thought that Assassin’s Creed was Ubisoft’s impenetrable sales juggernaut, but after a gaming media outlets called out the publisher for releasing Unity, a title that was an unfinished, glitchy mess, consumers reacted in the only way they know: By not buying the title, or its successor.
Quite honestly, game reviews have become the only thing available to gamers that prevents them from jumping in blindly when buying a new title. Yes, one is able to look at gameplay trailers and the sneak peek developers post prior to release, but it should always be kept in mind that these are the weapons in a developer’s arsenal to sell the public on a new product.
Attacking The Review System: Developer Anti-Consumer Activity
In the same press release in which Bethesda announced its anti-review policy, the game developer stated it would now only be sending reviewers a copy of a new title a day before launch, basically ensuring that a review would not be available to the public until perhaps a few days after release.
It's clear this action would mean that many gamers who might have been discouraged by a bad review will likely still buy the title due to the lack of available reviews, in turn, boosting sales numbers.
Is Bethesda’s Attack On Review Availability Something New?
Bethesda’s decision to only send media outlets a review copy a day before a title’s release is not exactly the first time developers have attempted to squash the availability of early reviews of a new title. Indeed, developers have often instituted review embargoes on new titles, inciting fear in many gamers.
It's no secret that many games that have had review embargoes placed on them have often turned out to be of questionable quality, either containing a ridiculous amount of glitches or having a poor overall design.
There is also the fact that some developers have previously attempted to coerce reviewers into giving their new title a positive score by allowing them early access. Some YouTube reviewers have previously stated that developers have approached them with such offers.
Through this action, the YouTubers get to potentially increase their viewer count by providing unseen footage of a new game, and the developer’s product gets promoted in a positive manner. Everybody wins, except for the consumer who may now potentially own a shoddy product.
Are We Doomed To Buy New Games Blindly?
Hype tends to make gamers overly excited about impending video games — often creating expectations that will not be able to be met. It is when people are very excited about a new title that they begin to act irrationally, such as pre-ordering the collector’s edition.
By pre-ordering a new title, you're committing to buying a title sight unseen. We have all done it before, only to realize that in such situations, review embargoes would mean perhaps being forced to find out a game is substandard only after you’ve bought it.
Gamers, however, are able to get around embargoed review systems, and possibly biased positive ratings, by simply not buying the game until they've read a few reviews from trusted sources. It may mean waiting longer to play a new highly anticipated title, but it's the only way to ensure you don’t waste your money on something you don’t like.
At the end of the day, it's sad gamers cannot simply purchase a new game that runs smoothly and has everything that was promised, and that developers often attempt to bamboozle us into buying substandard products. However, if I have to wait to see whether a new game is actually worth buying, wait I shall do.
With Bethesda's Dishonored 2 one of the coming games to be affected by the no-advance-copy policy, check out a trailer below ahead of the game's November 11 release.
Do you read game reviews? Do you think Bethesda’s action is anti-consumer? Please share in the comments down below.