Fewer things excite more controversy among video game consumers than pre-ordering and dodgy reviews, and it looks like the two have collided in a perfect storm to render the online user review sections of #PS4 and #XboxOne games practically worthless.
Anyone who digitally pre-orders games on Xbox One and PS4 will find that they have earned themselves an unadvertised advantage when it comes to user ratings on their console's online store — the ability to rate, and possibly even review, video games that they can't have played because they've yet to be released.
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As a result of what we hope is a terrible oversight for both platforms, the respective online stores are chock-full of star-ratings for titles that have yet to be released. The case of the Xbox One is particularly egregious, as the store supports user reviews, and there are dozens of reviews displayed on the store for games which the users can't possibly have played.
A check of upcoming games on both stores reveals a lot of premature ratings and reviews. The above image shows that there are thousands of star ratings on the Xbox One store page for Final Fantasy XV, which isn't out until next week.
In this example, there are over 1500 ratings for Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, many of them awarding next year's game a perfect 5 stars. As you can see, the game is already earning premature 5-star reviews from fans just because they are 'OMG SO EXCITED' (65 people found this helpful), or 'HOPE IT SCARY' (sic).
There are user reviews for South Park: The Fractured But Whole (scheduled to release next year) dating back to August.
Similarly, Halo Wars 2 isn't out until next year and has already got over 900 five-star ratings, and a bunch of user reviews, some of which are quite nonsensical:
The Fraud In Our Stars
PS4 doesn't let the users make their own reviews, but still allows star-ratings, and some games are displayed with a pile on unearned ratings. For example, #TheLastGuardian is already listed as a four-star game.
FYI, we're really excited for The Last Guardian, and we'll soon see if it lives up to the hype!
Will Xbox and PlayStation take action?
The Xbox One and PS4 stores are supposed to block users from reviewing games they haven’t played by checking whether or not they’ve downloaded the games. If you haven't downloaded the game, you're not allowed to rate it. But users who pre-ordered a game are treated as if they'd downloaded a copy. And this loophole has existed on both platforms for a shameful amount of time, with games having reviews from many months before release date.
The cynics among you may note that since these pre-order reviews tend to be overwhelmingly positive, they are likely to help drive sales. With that in mind it's easy to see why neither company has much of an interest in closing this backdoor. The people who pre-order have nothing to lose — they've no use for reviews, they've already committed their money. It's the consumers looking to decide which games are worth spending their money on that are the real losers in this system.
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