For years, reviews have helped customers purchase games. Back in the day, before the internet, there were two mainstream review magazines, Gamepro and EGM. These two magazines were the source for everything. Then the late 90s came and as game companies realized that customers were going to these two magazines for reviews and sources, they would begin to pay off these companies so they would give their games good reviews to help sales. Other magazines started popping up as well, and would start doing the same thing. Then there was Nintendo Power. Great magazine with tips and all, but they were super bias towards games for their system. Superman 64, the worst game of all time, recieved 0’s and 1’s, but Nintendo Power gave it a 6, basically saying we know it sucks, but because it’s exclusive to us, the game is ok to purchase, when in fact it wasn’t.
When the internet started becoming a factor for information, gaming website started popping up. Sites like Gamespot and IGN were really popular and credible to this point. People had realized reviews from the likes of Gamepro and EGM were skewed. Gameinformer was a new major magazine you could get a subscription with at EB Games. Early on with this magazine, the reviews would be catered monthly to whatever game company was the producer of the month. EB would have either Activision, Capcom, EA, or Microsoft as a company of the month, and would be asked to push these games. Gameinformer would assist by giving a game that would normally be a 5, and give it a 7. Gamespot, in my opinion, in the early part of the decade was the most trusting source for reviews. Games that were given 10s were games that actually deserved 10s.
Around 2007, Gamespot changed their scoring system and their reviews just started going downhill. Overly critical on games that would average 9, would get a 7.5-8. By this point, for major sites, IGN had become a more trusted site. Also by this time, a lot of smaller sites and blogs would pop up and offered more options than these major sites. EB Games had been bought out by Gamestop, and when this happened, Game Informer’s reviews had become more credible. You still have to question rather companies were paying off Game Informer because of it’s reach to customers coming directly from a retail outlet.
The .5 system really hurt the industry in terms of rating games. The fiasco hit it’s peak with Grand Theft Auto 4 was released in 2008. All outlets gave it a 10, but clearly the game had bugs. Better games released soon after wouldn’t come close to this, serving proof at this time that Gamespot and IGN were clearly getting paid to hype the games. By this point, sites like Destructoid and source lites like N4G would help bring some of these smaller sites to the mainstream. It was nice to have these outlets as they seem more personable as a lot were blogs.
With so many outlets to get information and recommendations for games, and to see if the hype of one game was worth it, the mainstream sites and magazines were hurting. As IGN continued to give horrid reviews, they just get less credible to the point where they are a joke. Within the last year, IGN has had a habit of giving good games 8.5, then giving questionable, overhyped and advertised games score of 9 and above. This proving that Activision and other companies were paying these sites off for good reviews. Most gamers by this point have their site they trust. Average gamers, however, will visit IGN and Gamestop for their reviews and continue to by Madden and Call of Duty every year. These blogs and smaller sites, however, have spurred a war. Many of these writers for these sites are biased towards one system or the other, thus skewing the scores one way or another. Hell even IGN now will have someone who’s never touched a sports game, review a sports game. Makes a lot of sense.
As of now, you’re best bet to figuring out if you want to purchase a game or not is to read user reviews. Metacritic is also a great site as it takes all review scores from sites and averages them out, as well as user can submit their own reviews and the site will average those as well. User reviews on sites will have people who either hate the game or the system the game is on and give it horrid reviews. You just have to sort through them and weed the bad ones out. But then again if you notice more bad reviews that sound credible, you will know immediately the game sucks. Games like White Knight Chronicles get low scores from sites. This publisher can’t afford to pay off these sites. The people who play the game love it, and it will be a cult game.
This generation is being told what to buy. People’s decisions are skewed due to advertising and propaganda. Does anyone really have a reason to own a Macbook besides the marketing campaign? I guess it works. I know people who like Black Ops and won’t invest time in Bad Company 2. I mean if you like the game, more power to you, but when there’s better options available, open your mind.