Game Reviewers Are Lazy?

In a complete show of arm waving attention-seeking, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences President called game reviewers “lazy.” He does make some good points calling for more criticism, which I’ll agree with, but the bulk of his quotes seem delusional to me. He proclaims a challenge to the industry.

How can you review a game, how can you give a comment about a game like Grand Theft Auto IV, that has 40-plus hours or more of gameplay, if you’ve only spent 2 1/2 to 3 hours playing it

“Quite competently”, I would say.

If you can’t get a sense of how a game is built and where it’s going and whether it’s worth continuing after three hours, then the fault isn’t with the game reviewer; the fault is with the game designer. Three hours is a long time. A lot can be done in that period. If your game does nothing in that span, boring the gamer, then I think you can make a pretty good case for a negative review (again, this has nothing to do with criticism.)

Of course, he continues on:

It would be like reviewing a movie but only seeing the opening, first reel. I don’t think that’s fair, or is it accurate

No. No it wouldn’t be. What it would be like is reviewing a tv series based on its pilot episode, and that does come across as completely reasonable and accurate. There are some people that will always complain that “it gets good after episode seven” (or “the game gets good fifteen hours in”), in some situations this would be 100% correct, but if you fail to enrapture the crowds from the get go (and get the proper ratings) none of that will ever matter: the show will be canceled before it gets there and no one will ever see what “greatness” was in store for them.

This is the more correct analogy for the big, mainstream games. If a reviewer is bored to tears by your game three hours in, then I’d like to know. Because I, the consumer, am lazy. I don’t have time to trudge through a boring game for 40 hours. I do not get paid to do this, it comes at my expense, and if you can’t fascinate me during this time I’ll move onto something that can. Laziness is a virtue. The major game developers should embrace that because, after all, why would you, as a game maker, want to make a (non MMO) game that no one ever completes?

Hell, more than half of all players of Half-Life 2: Episode 1, a game that is skewed towards existing fans of the series that want to see more, don’t even finish it. What would the completion rate for a third tier epic, with new IP that the player has no vested interest in, be? I would imagine much lower. That’s the thing. The reviewer, the one that finishes a game, is not normal. They have invested a lot of time and energy into getting everything out of a game. The average gamer isn’t so patient. That’s why you get a 40% or 50% variance between Metacritic numbers and user numbers.

So instead of calling out the reviewers as “lazy,” maybe you should thank them instead. They are the ones that, statistically, finish your games. Most of us can’t be bothered to put up with your shit.

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