Do you think video game reviews matter anymore?

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NotSoSneakyGuy

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Poll Do you think video game reviews matter anymore? (457 votes)

Yes 45%
No 37%
Tralse 18%

Inspired by the Giant Beastcast (Episode 75) discussion spurred by Besthesda's current stance on pre-release review coverage, I found myself wondering what the community's stance is.

If you haven't already listened to it already, you should. Jeff, Vinny, and Alex, cover what seems to be an exhaustive amount around the subject. From the hows and whys, back in the old days..., to the changing and rising tide of Youtube and "influencers". I'm not sure I have much else to say they haven't at least touched on.

Interesting times to try to make money writing about video games, perhaps too interesting.

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an_ancient

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I think the question should be a bit more specific.

Do I think reviews matter in creating awareness? No.

Do I think reviews matter in early purchasing decisions? No.

Do I think reviews matter in order to progress the medium? Yes. This is how I interpreted your question at face value.

I think reviews should be about discussing if mechanics are interesting or pleasing, if products are falsely advertized, if the story or experience is worthwhile and if there are consumer unfriendly practices among others. It hope reviews and the hype machine part ways, because it never feels right when a trailer for a game has a score embedded in the video.

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AdequatelyPrepared

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Individual written reviews tend not to mean much. The numbers at the end of those reviews and that big metascore number sure do.

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Redhotchilimist

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#3  Edited By Redhotchilimist

It matters in the sense that developers live and die by metacritic scores. But they are not very necessary or useful or what I'm looking for out of game coverage in general. Too quick out and shallow to be deep analysis or critique or experienced opinion, too little gameplay video to be useful as buyer's advice. There are exceptions from great writers, but most reviews I've read are not funny, not interesting and hardly more informative than the wealth of other information all over the internet. So I voted no.

This site is the only one I read that does reviews in a traditional sense, and my impression is that they do it because that's what they used to do for yeeaars on other sites and it's in their blood at this point.

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Kidavenger

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#4  Edited By Kidavenger

Reviews only ever stop me from buying.

A review has never inspired me to buy, at very best they reinforce a decision that I have already made.

If you accept that the majority of consumers follow that logic; then reviews can only be a negative to the publisher; a good review isn't going to translate into many more sales while a negative review could absolutely decimate sales.

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BojackHorseman

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Feel a version of this thread pops up every other week.

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ArtisanBreads

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No. I am so into games media stuff and checking out info and I don't even read them.

I wish Giant Bomb would stop doing them on release and maybe look at doing more thoughtful type of criticism a ways after release if anything. I'd much rather read that.

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Naoiko

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I still read reviews when I'm looking into a game I'm interested in but have no idea if the hype is worth it.

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deactivated-64162a4f80e83

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Scores matter, reviews not so much these days, at least written ones.

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FacelessVixen

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Reviews don't really affect my purchasing decisions one way or another. I've been playing games for decades and therefore know my taste in games, so I can tell if I'll like something or not just by seeing it in action. I'll still skim though a review every now and then just to see if a game of interest has technical problems like frame rate issues with my PC setup and so on, though the Quick Looks do that well enough for me since GB has been covering PC versions more often in recent years.

As for YouTube: There's a chance that one of the few let's players I follow will play something that I don't know about and I'll add it to my Steam wishlist because it looks interesting, but I don't take a let's player's words as a review. They're entertainers, therefore I only watch their videos strictly for their performances as commentators.

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NTM

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#11  Edited By NTM

Personally, maybe I'm just old school, but when I play games, I actually do put a score to specific attributes a game has, similar to the numbers Game Informer puts on their overall scores, so take gameplay and give it a number on a scale that ends with .0, .5, and .75, with visuals, sound, replay value, and overall content or what have you then add them all up to come out with a final score; I do like doing that myself, but to be honest, no. What matters to me is just the discussion, and saying whether we like it or not and why. I think when it comes to review scores, it only matters to me because it's a good representation to sum up how someone feels about it, because you can't always get a good idea how someone feels just through words in my opinion. As you can see on even this site, there have been many times where someone would say something like 'that read more like a three star than a four' or what have you. As for it affecting my purchasing decisions, sure, in some manner, though in the end I'll play something that looks good to me, and won't if it doesn't sometimes.

I don't like to conform, but if a game gets high enough praise from enough people, it means it's something that maybe I should give a chance, and it could widen the amount of games I become to like, and that's always a good thing. That said, I don't take their words for granted most of the time, because everyone has differing opinions, so I never say he said, or she said, so it makes it so. I know one thing, people shouldn't get worked up over reviews. Reviews should be a point of discussing how we feel about a game without being nasty over it; it should be a fun. While I like reading just fine, we've been seeing a lot of video content, so take Giant Bomb, I'd rather just watch a quick look, where they talk about how they feel, and perhaps by the end they say 'I'd give it this amount of stars out of five' or what have you to give a good, final indication of how they feel about it.

I play games regardless of review many times though, for instance, I bought Resident Evil 6 despite many negative reviews, and I got Jotun despite not many people seeming to play it, and I enjoyed both.

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viking_funeral

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#12  Edited By viking_funeral

Metascores are very big for people who are uncertain about purchasing a game. It can even sway people who previously had no interest in a game. Individual reviews can do the same thing, but I feel like those reach a smaller audience of people who have reviewers they trust or respect the opinions of. Beyond that, I think certain games that fill a niche, have a reputation, or a built in fanbase are going to do a certain amount of business regardless of individual reviews or a metascore.

A low metascore for the recent Thief 4 probably drastically hurt sales.

A low metascore for Syndicate likely hurt sales, though a good many people may have tried the game due to Jeff's (individual) review.

No metascore nor review has been necessary to build up the fanbase of games like Dwarf Fortress, Minecraft, or League of Legends.

So reviews still matter for most games, but some games won't care.

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leejunfan83

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Reviews only ever stop me from buying.

A review has never inspired me to buy, at very best they reinforce a decision that I have already made.

If you accept that the majority of consumers follow that logic; then reviews can only be a negative to the publisher; a good review isn't going to translate into many more sales while a negative review could absolutely decimate sales.

Yep

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bigsocrates

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I don't really understand people for whom reviews don't matter. I rely on reviews to tell me A) when a game I'm interested in is bad (so I shouldn't buy it) and B) When a game that isn't on my radar is actually great, in which case I read reviews and consider them.

I try to avoid buying games without reading reviews first (though I must admit getting caught up in No Man's Hype, and I ended up viewing that game as a shallow tech demo) and they often influence my buying decision.

Now I will admit that a 'formal' review isn't always necessary. When Jeff raved about Titanfall 2 on the Bombcast I felt safe buying it (and did so) without worrying too much about the specific of his final written review, but not all games are discussed in the non-review media I consume. And with Titanfall 2 I was also a big Titanfall 1 fan, for a game that I'm not as familiar with a 'formal' review (or several) can be more useful.

I also just enjoy reading a well-written review. And they're very useful as a historical record of what games were liked when they came out and what has aged well (or not.)

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Trilogy

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Not to me they don't. I couldn't tell you the last time I read a review. I'd rather hear about a game from a podcast or see it being playing on something like a Quicklook.

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WesternWizard

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For certain franchises 100% no, which is why Bethesda is all about not sending out review copies more than a day early anymore, they know the vast majority of their fanbase will buy their broken ass shit day 1. Then there's general prehype insanity like No Man's Sky where despite lack of reviews and the studio's lack of track record on anything significant, it sold a lot of copies.

Flip side smaller indie games that get reviews can be made or broken because they don't have the same built in fanbase/brand awareness going for them.

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DharmaBum

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#17  Edited By DharmaBum

I occasionally read reviews out of curiosity if it’s a writer I enjoy. I expect them to honestly represent their experience with the game and to articulately express what about it works or doesn't. They don’t have to necessarily be good at the game, as long as I can tell they understand it. I don’t want to read a regurgitated list of features that anyone could glean.

I find the score itself pretty uninteresting. It’s fine if it’s using the 5 star scale merely as a shorthand for “I hated it” or “I loved it” or anything in between.

Metascore olympics is one of dumbest things I've encountered on the Internet.

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liquiddragon

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#18  Edited By liquiddragon

I don't give a shit if gb stops doing reviews but it means the crew is going to be finishing less games which in turn, to me, makes their opinions not valuable.

QL for me don't serve the same purpose cause most of the time it's their impression which is quite often off.

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Bill_P

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#19  Edited By Bill_P

I've not listened to the podcast, but for me the Quick Look killed the video game reviews. At least I put more stock in a Quick Look than I do a review because I can see for myself if I'll like it or not. Drive Club got canned by everyone, for example, particularly Jeff, but it looked good to me, and I still enjoy it to this day. Jeff also stills rags on it to this day as well...

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Nodima

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Like Alex, I'm a critic at heart. I did music criticism semi-professionally for eight years, and after a two year break I've redoubled my efforts in that area. I enjoy reading criticism - books, TV, film, music. A well written critique is some of the most thought-inducing work out there for me and I am constantly in search of it on both a professional and amateur level.

But the choice of the word "matter"...I had to vote tralse. The number of and names of the websites MetaCritic pulls from to get a review aggregate of similar value to film or television is just embarrassing. I can say I am familiar with every single website on almost any movie's metacritic page, but most of the websites on the video game page sound like they were made up in a word factory, and the writing often leaves much to be desired.

They matter in the sense that they are where the best discussion about and reading of a game is to be found; one could make an audio/visual version of Killscreen's Virginia review and I would never watch it, but I've read the review twice. There is something beautiful about the written word.

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monkeyking1969

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Matter to me and matter to the greater gaming public are two very different questions.

There are many people who could benefit from the system that there was and still is for reviewing console games. But the new gamers that showed up after Wii and casual gaming public don't care, and as Jeff said nobody reviews "mobile" games professionally because they don't work that way. When my niece and nephew were younger their father would ask me, "Wait...these Nintendo Wii games suck?" And, I would have to explain shovel-ware too him and how at the very least many of those stinkers got reviews so he could look before buying. Thankfully, the kids liked Lego games which were at least playable.

I think the amount of game players who look at reviews before buying is an ever smaller percentage of people buying games. Reviews are simply not consumed for that purpose. I would say the folks that do read reviews, do ist as less of an information gathering activity and more of an affirmation or repudiation of their own opinion. If people read it and learn something, well all the better. But, even if they just read it the purpose has been served for a page view. The problem is there really is not a way to grow an audience to appreciate reviews, at least in my opinion. Video previews and Let's Plays with some podcast discussion is what people crave, "Just show it too me in action, and I'll decide" is what the consumer seems to be saying.

Who knows maybe the difficulty of showing off VR will bring back the review, but I suspect that Sony's move of bring back demos despite evidence that demos hurt sales of normals games might be telling. The "Just show it too me in action and I'll decide" might prevail for a long time through the use of demos until there is some evidence demos hurt VR games too.

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Howardian

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Video game reviews matter as much as CNN pseudo-journalism matters, when it comes to making sure the game indsutry/government "do the right thing", respectively.

In other words, games that I personally think do not deserve to be called good games, get four and five star reviews sometimes.

Opinions on video games are *so* excessively subjective that rarely does a player agree with a reviewer's taste often enough for them to know if they will like what the reviewers liked or not.

I never saw the point in reviews. The only thing that would really show me if I will enjoy interacting with a specific interactive program (called a 'video game') is if I watch the real-time gameplay.

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Ares42

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#23  Edited By Ares42

I think it's probably the wrong question. Does traditional written reviews matter as much as they used to ? Probably not, but mostly because reviews are changing. With the vastly increased access we've seen over the last few years one single persons take on a game at or before release date doesn't matter, since there's so much info out there for buyers to make up their own mind. I had already seen 20+ hours of gameplay of Civ 6 before it was released, so there was nothing new any review could reveal for me to make me change my mind about the game.

Reviews are still important for people who don't have the time or effort to check things out themselves though, but at this point things like QLs and early access has in many ways taken over the role of reviews by allowing consumers direct access to the information they would usually get from a review. It's still vastly important to give consumers access to some kind of pre-purchase information though.

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deactivated-666b29265c308

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Reviews are still influential to video game enthusiasts and consumers looking to make an informed purchase. Titanfall 2 would have been a 'maybe' if Jeff gave it a lower score, as I already have battlefield and gears. As it stands, I bought the game because I know whose views on games align with my own, and made my decision based off of that.

It's not always a "should I buy this" situation. I read and watch movie critiques as well. I like hearing others' views on what makes a movie good as it is positively subjective. Knowledgeable reviews can hold a lot of power and inspire.

I don't think game publishers would think about moving away from traditional reviews if they weren't influential or still mattered.

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Nodima

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I also think it's wrong, and often disagree with Jeff, to look at a review as purchase advice. As a music critic, I almost never looked at it that way even if I'd often write my reviews in an argument for or against the merit of the album. I considered it a cultural conversation that one could potentially use to sway them toward purchasing the album, but I always hoped that even a negative review of a Chris Brown album might inspire someone to listen to it, if only to see if they agreed or disagreed with me.

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ian280291

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#26  Edited By ian280291

All I want is a quick look style video and I can make my own mind up once I've seen the game in action

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Shindig

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Scores and summary, although the latter usually leads me to reading the full thing.

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FrodoBaggins

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Not for me. I don't need a written review to decide whether I want to play something or not.

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dstopia

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Reviews as a consumer guide have always only been important as just that -- a consumer guide. Nowadays, that style of review has been superseded.

Reviews as critique, not as a consumer guide on release date but as an actual review of the mechanics of the game and how it compares against other games, have always mattered and will still matter. I was kind of disappointed that Jeff dismissed reviews as dead when I think longform, thoughtful video game critique is more alive than it ever was.

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cyberbloke

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I make almost all of my games-buying decisions based on reviews, either from Giant Bomb or from Metacritic's combined scores.

The only times I disregard negative reviews if the game is a sequel to something I loved (AC Unity), belong's to a franchise I love (Star Wars Battlefront) or has a concept I am sold on (No man's Sky). In all these cases I was disappointed to some degree.

I don't get much game-playing time, so I do my research before buying.

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Justin258

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As buying advice? No. As soon as a game releases, and often before then, there's already dozens of hours of video on Youtube that will tell me if it's worth my time or not.

As an interesting thought exercise on what a game does right and wrong? Yes. There's not much money to be made there, however, so at some point the only people writing such reviews are going to be people who care and not people who are rushing a review out.

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veektarius

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I use reviews to inform my decisions. If there are no reviews before a product is released, I probably won't buy it unless it's an installment of a select few franchises.

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stordoff

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Yes, with some major caveats (FWIW, I currently write game reviews)

90% of the time, I know if I'm going to play a game or not, be it from the marketing and Quick Look-like streams (Hitman, for instance), or from being so invested in a series that I have to know for myself (P4D, which turned out great, or Zero Time Dilemma, with which I had issues, as examples). In that sense, the written, long-form review is substantially less important than it ever was; I suspect at this point many people are genre-savvy enough that they can pick out what they like or dislike without even considering reading a review.

However, for some games, I'm on the fence. Take right now for example - Titanfall 2, Gears of Wars 4, Battlefield 1, and Call of Duty all came out around the same time. To me, they all scratch a similar itch, and I'm not particularly married to any of the series. In this sort of situation, a review is much more useful, especially if the same reviewer tackles more than one of the releases. Chances are, I'm not going to pick up more than one of these, so reviews are useful in deciding which one I chose (leaning towards Titanfall, based largely on Jeff's review).

There is also the proverbial diamond in the rough. Keeping track of every game coming out in nigh-impossible, so reviews are useful in highlighting games I may otherwise overlook. If any of the GB staff give a game a 4 or 5, I take notice, and at least take the time to read the review and see if it's something in which I'd be interested (it's what made me pick up Her Story for instance, a game I didn't particularly like yet am glad to have experienced). When I write a review, I often hope that someone reading will see what made the game so great for me, and maybe step outside their comfort zone a little. It's what I hope with my Steins;Gate review, for example. On its face, it is an incredibly niche game - a visual novel drawing heavily on moe/otaku culture isn't everyone's first pick. Despite that, it's a game I recommend to pretty much anyone, as the story-telling and world-building is done to near-perfection, which is something that doesn't necessarily come across from a Quick Look or the game's marketing.

Finally, there's also an element of holding a publisher to account. I don't expect that a low-scoring review will make much of a difference to a particular game's sales, but I still think putting that information out there is valuable. It at least gives the buyer the chance to rethink their decision, and saying to a publisher "Hey, that marketing you're putting out? It's not what you're selling. Knock it off" is a good thing. Does it make a difference and prevent misleading marketing? Probably not often, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't at least try and push back against it.

To answer the question, most of the time reviews don't really matter, but when they do matter I find them invaluable. For that reason, I would vote yes, with the caveat that not every review matters.

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Hunkulese

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Your question is way too open ended. What are you even asking?

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None_Braver

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Quick looks make up my mind.

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deactivated-58a3c9b2cc154

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Possibly, but user reviews hold a lot more weight now. I wouldn't be surprised if Bethesda tried to silence Steam and Metacritic user reviews in the near future. It's difficult to pay off 50,000 people to give your shitty game a good review.

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bybeach

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Not for me. But I do like written reviews to some extent. I guess by say the GB staff, or ppl. like Pat Klepek or Austin Walker. The reason why is that I know generally what their background, and have experience with them. And just as importantly, they are professionals. After looking at Steam reviews, I have come to distrust much of the user generated user content. Too many axes to grind and personal biases, though that may be unfair to those who really try to emulate good standards.

Secondly, I love QL's! I may get a biased opinion by thinking a QL tells me all I need to know, and yes, listening to the verbal clues of whether the staff is liking it or not, and why. But I still get a lot of info looking at the game. Having said that, I wish I saw some more CRPG QLs and Reviews. Interested in RTS also, more than just StarCraft. Matt Rorie my have enough going, but he seems inclined towards some of this, truly miss Dave on a few accounts.

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webnet

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@bybeach: I think I'm in the same position. I don't need to read a full review before I buy a game, but I like reading them sometimes. A combination of early coverage, the ability to return Steam and Origin games, and a bunch journos and streamers who I trust (or at least know about any disclosure issues) are enough to help me make a decision.

That being said, I think it's a little sketch what Bethesda and other companies are doing. It's like they are trying to suppress details on a game before release and promote their own channels or promoted sources. And while I get this may help their bottom line, it's not great for someone who doesn't know if they should buy a game and turns to the highest ranked video on youtube or 5 minutes of a twitch stream for answers.

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mems1224

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I think they matter in that I like reading certain people's thoughts on a game but I think they're pretty worthless in helping decide if I should buy a game. I can't remember the last time I turned to reviews to help me in a purchasing decision.

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Shindig

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Possibly, but user reviews hold a lot more weight now. I wouldn't be surprised if Bethesda tried to silence Steam and Metacritic user reviews in the near future. It's difficult to pay off 50,000 people to give your shitty game a good review.

You swing the other way with that, though. You'll maybe get a concensus but you'll also get a ton of "Well, this game sucks because I LIKE A RIVAL GAME!"

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clagnaught

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#41  Edited By clagnaught

There's no one answer, but rather a lot of situational answers.

Do reviews matter for Call of Duty? Probably no.

Do reviews matter for a lesser known quantity, like say No Man's Sky? Probably yes.

Can reviews help bolster a game that may be otherwise unknown to some people, like Undertale from last year? Yes.

A lot of these benefits I think can be applied to by the general temperature of the room, whether that is in a community (like the super positive buzz Stardew Valley had earlier this year), the ratings on Steam, what people are saying about it on podcasts, etc. There is valley in the nature of what a review is, but you don't "need" one to determine if a game is up your alley or not.

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FrostyRyan

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Open ended question with no clear answer. Depends on the game, the consumer, the writer, etc.

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gunflame88

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#43  Edited By gunflame88

They matter, but they are a small factor in my purchasing decisions. Nowadays we have a wealth of information such as countless user reviews, easily accessible gameplay footage, early reports on technical issues. There's also the fact that I've been playing video games for a long time, and I generally know what to expect from many particular developers and publishers. That said, what Bethesda is doing is absolutely sketchy and gives me reason to be even more cautious about buying their games. Their excuse is not even an excuse, it's a non-excuse.

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avantegardener

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#44  Edited By avantegardener

Generally if you find a review site or personality that aligns with your tastes it can be useful as a buying guide, they are generally going to get access earlier than you and should have a reasonably informed idea of what they think of the game.

That's said I do find myself paying closer attention to steam reviews for games that have received less press attention.

Ultimately I have pretty good instinct about what I will enjoy and rarely buy a stinker, 30 years of playing video games will give you that edge.

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Draugen

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Reviews matter a great deal to me. There are games I'll get no matter what the reviews say. Like the next Mass Effect. But for games that don't fall into that category, I greatly rely on reviews to aid my decision. Like the new Alpha Centauri. I was planning on getting that, but didn't, because of weak reviews. I had no plans on getting the new Doom, but did, after it recieved very strong reviews.

So, yeah. Reviews matter, at least to me.

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#46  Edited By WynnDuffy

I don't read reviews anymore, only tech breakdowns to see if a game is broken or poorly optimised. Steam Reviews are more helpful than the likes of Polygon! I know what games I like and I can watch videos to know if I'll enjoy something.

I think these days a lot of reviewers include irrelevant information about what they find offensive and push their politics instead of just focusing on the damn games.

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#48  Edited By Teddie

I don't read a whole lot of reviews, but I do watch videos and listen to podcasts specifically to hear the kinds of things I'd likely get out of reading a review. As far as I'm concerned, it's just another way for people to get the information they're looking for, so why exclude the people who choose to get their info from reviews if you can help it?

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For them not to matter, you would need to persuade me that you act no differently seeing a game getting reviewed at one star or five stars.

I still like having a foundation of professional published reviews to look at. The good thing is you can go to metacritic and see summaries from dozens of places. I find that the most useful. I tend to not worry too much about the exact metascore.

User reviews are fun to look at in relation to professional reviews, but they are often prone to herd mentality protests. Steam's 'Recent' reviews for No Man's Sky are sitting at 8% Positive - 92% Negative. What am I even supposed to do with that figure? Like that game looked kind of repetitive but I'm sure there's some enjoyment to be had with it.

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WynnDuffy

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#50  Edited By WynnDuffy

@paulmako said:

Steam's 'Recent' reviews for No Man's Sky are sitting at 8% Positive - 92% Negative. What am I even supposed to do with that figure? Like that game looked kind of repetitive but I'm sure there's some enjoyment to be had with it.

Assume that it's a hot mess that was lied about, has missing content which is in the Steam trailer, is a technical mess and a poor port that isn't worth your money. On top of all of that, it hasn't been patched in almost two months and it is not a good game. Seems easy to do something with that figure if you ask me.