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Game Previews Just Game Marketing? 282

Posted by Zonk
from the unsurprising-but-sad dept.
Kotaku has a feature up today written by James Wagner Au, formerly embedded reporter in the world of Second Life. He's now doing his own thing, and he's got a fairly cynical discussion over at the Kotaku site about the real purpose behind game previews in industry rags. From the article: "For the thing of it is, game magazine previews are almost uniformly positive, even for the most undistinguished titles. So it unrolls thus: publisher makes mediocre game; press previews depict mediocre game as being good or at least worth a look; excited gamers read previews, foolishly believe them, start making pre-sale orders of mediocre game; driven by preview press and pre-sale numbers based on that press, retailers stock up on mediocre game; publisher makes money from mediocre game, keeps making more games like it."
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Game Previews Just Game Marketing?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 12, 2006 @05:33PM (#14903970)
    That'a good point, but most companies stipulate that you can't say anything bad if you want to preview a game.
  • Love the honesty (Score:1, Interesting)

    by brennz (715237) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @05:37PM (#14903982)
    "the circle jerk is complete"

    This is how I feel about World of Warcraft, AKA FactionQuest AKA World of PVEcraft, AKA one of the most unambitious mediocre games ever published.

    In WOW, endgame content basically consists of endless faction farming, nonstop instance grinding, and totally shitty PVP based primarily on gear.

    I'd give my left nut for a revamp back to the original Ultima Online (which, strangely, had far superior endgame to most of the modern MMORPGs).

    Gaming companies now are just going to follow Blizzard's lead for the next 5 years churning out shit games with polished UIs and somewhat decent netcode, instead of making something novel, inspiring and nonrepetitive.

    That article hits the money.
  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Radish03 (248960) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @05:41PM (#14903996)
    Exactly. Whenever I read a preview of a game that looks awesome, I think to myself "I hope that game ends up being as cool as this looks" and make a mental note to watch for the game later on when it's actually finished and reviewed. The preview doesn't usually do the advertising job of selling me the game. What it does is makes me aware of the game's existence.
  • by tengennewseditor (949731) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @05:43PM (#14904005)
    Previews are necessarily positive because the media doesn't have access to the final game and has to take the developer's word. There's no opportunity to be critical, so they're just hype, but everyone knows that.

    Reviews ensure that developers have a reason to make the game as good as possible. If previews drive sales too, then it allows developers to take more risks -- because an ambitious game that ultimately fails will have a good preview writeup and sell enough not to be a total loss.

    The author is trying to posit an implied (but untrue) connection between previews allowing mediocre games to sell and all games 'sucking.' Mediocre stuff sells in every entertainment industry that exists -- if only the best games sold then the market would be too risky to enter.

  • by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @05:59PM (#14904073)
    I always rate the credibility of a game reviewer on the INVERSE of their score for the game Master of Orion III, which was widely acknowledged to be an awful title.

    Yet you'll find reviewers who give it quite a good score "4.3/5". And they'll wax poetic about some of the worst and repetitive features of the game. "I always turn up the speakers when I've gotten a diplomatic message to hear the wonderful alien voices."

    Compare/Contrast the following reviews. Who would YOU go to for the truth next time?
    #1: http://www.stratosgroup.com/reviews/games.php?sele cted=0303moo3 [stratosgroup.com] "4.3 out of 5"
    #2: http://pc.ign.com/articles/386/386281p6.html [ign.com] "9.2 out of 10 and Editor's Choice Award"
    #3: http://www.avault.com/reviews/review_temp.asp?game =moo3&page=3 [avault.com] "3 out of 5"
    #4: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/masteroforion3 /review.html?q=master%20of%20orion [gamespot.com]
    "6.7 out of 10"
  • by FearTheFrail (666535) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @06:04PM (#14904091)
    I think, then, some of the most informative previews come out when the writers comment on the previewed game like my parents used to talk about me. You've seen it before, the guilty eyes, the sheepish smile, and the "Well, maybe his features will actually be a little refined when he gets older..."

    Granted, I haven't seen it often, but in cruising IGN I've seen at least a couple of previews (though, now that I think about it, this could've been 3-4 years ago) where you could tell the writers had that same look on their faces, and while they desperately want to be able to generate some positive hype about this feature or that, all they can offer is hope that things improve in the future.

    And really? Truth be told, who wants to read any more than the rare preview to say "omg this game is gonna sucks bad?"

    Honesty in previews, candid words and recognizing both the positive and negative in an upcoming game is, indeed, pretty much a dead breed.
  • Re:Easy to Criticize (Score:2, Interesting)

    by urbaer (778997) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @06:09PM (#14904113)
    They're par for the course and an acceptable trade-off.

    Looking at Edge 142, (thier preview section is called 'Hype'), most of thier previews run through what's in the game and what the developers will need to do to the game before release to make it decent. A few choice quotes:
    "... appears to do little of consequence and little to offend, but will that be to little to justify its price?"
    "Having only played through the initial levels in a tightly restricted early beta test, it would be dangerous to jump to conclusions..."

    My point therefore is go find a mag that doesn't gush over previews, they exist. I've found that multiformat mags are a little less gushy than single format mags, but hey.
  • by payndz (589033) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @06:13PM (#14904122)
    Speaking as a former games magazine editor, I can say this with authority. The reasons magazines do all those more-or-less uncritical previews on upcoming games is...

    To fill pages.

    No kidding. When you start the month, you have anything between 100 to 164 pages to fill. (Certainly where I worked, the editor had no say in the total number of pages - that was decided based on projected advertising revenue and the whim of the publishing director.) The advertising department says they expect to need X pages. You know fairly well how many games will come in for review based on the release schedules, and can allocate pages based on that. You have all the standing pages - news, letters, cheats and guides, house ads, subscriptions, etc.

    Anything left over has to be filled. And the nature of the games business means they either have to be filled by either wacky filler features (which the magazine writers love because it gives them a chance to be self-indulgent, but the readers generally couldn't give a shit about)... or you have to talk about games that haven't come out yet. They might be lengthy interview-based stories, or they might be based entirely around the latest set of screenshots that have become avilable. Either way, they're previews.

    And the sad fact is, if you preview a game that's still some months from release and get all snarky about the lame concept, the horrible control system or the blatant swipes from other games, even if it's deservedly so... the publisher is likely to tell you to fuck off when you ask for final review code down the line. Which will leave a hole in your predicted number of pages for the review section. You can fill that either by extending other reviews, even if the games aren't worth the extra space, or throw in another last-minute filler feature... or add another preview. Either way, you quickly learn to walk the fine line between gentle mockery and actual criticism, and to keep the latter until you actually have the game in your hand.

    Jerry Seinfeld said it best. "Magazines are another medium I love, because 95% is simply based on 'How the hell are we going to fill all this blank space?'"

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @06:25PM (#14904172) Journal
    It's not just games magazines. It's all magazines. A large portion of their content is made from press releases. They have a magazine to fill up, and regurgitating press releases is a cheap easy way to do it. When all the papers were waxing lyrical about the Segway, did the journalists think "Wow, that's a cool toy. Let's find out about it"? The papers want you to think that, but what most likely happened was a P.R company sent a load of photos and bumph, and the editor got an office junior to rewrite it into an article.

    But these are only previews. The purpose of a preview isn't to tell you what a games like. The sole purpose of a preview is to inform you that a game exists. This is not a bad thing. Gamers want to know what's coming. They just have to understand that a preview is not an opinion peice, but a promotional piece. To find out whether a game is any good, wait for the review.
  • by soupforare (542403) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @06:26PM (#14904176)
    I love how not one of those reviewers had MOO3 down as less than average.
  • by Lewisham (239493) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @06:38PM (#14904210)
    I did some writing for a couple of print magazines in the UK. As the new guy, I'd be handed the stuff no-one else liked writing, and that included previews.

    Every editor I spoke to told me to be positive. This is not the same as jacking up hype from the PR guys: I never even spoke to them. Most of the time they'll talk to someone higher up because they don't know who I am, and then I'd get the preview handed off to me. Most of the PR junk we recieved was exactly that: junk. I found it difficult to make any more favourable words simply because I had a Spiderman Web-Shooting Gun.

    The reason I was told to be positive is that there is no reason to be overly critical of preview code. Most preview code looks like ass, plays like crap and has some show-stopping bugs. That's because it isn't finished. The idea of preview code is to show ideas and direction to the journalist. Exciting games get more column inches because they show better ideas and promise, *not* because their code didn't suck. And a lot of games that have very poor preview code brush up. Development is organic. You can't be critical of every piece of code that comes through the door: it's all crap. You pick out the good bits, show it to the reader and say "you might like this when it comes out." Some games are of interest to more people than others, and might get more column inches.

    Until a game ships, it never deserves derision, just encouragement. It would be very ego-centric to kick the shit out of every game that I recieved just because I could in the name of "truth".
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday March 12, 2006 @06:51PM (#14904276) Homepage
    How about something like this (I made this up):

    "In Joe Bob's Grand Adventure you'll be playing Joe Bob as he fights to regain his Pickle farm from the evil Artichoke-Industrial Complex. In the build we played there were some bugs here and there, but the game was comming along nicely. The levels looked good and were interactive and had plenty of little touches making them seem alive and real, and the shooting mechanic felt very good. The AI provided some challenge (except for a few known bugs) and the game seemed fun. The world is enganging and the story is well presented. The game has a large number of weapons, but some currently feal very similar. The game is shaping up for a November release."

    or "In Joe Bob's Grand Adventure you'll be playing Joe Bob as he fights to regain his Pickle farm from the evil Artichoke-Industrial Complex. In the build we played there were some bugs here and there, but none severly effected gameplay. The levels looked rather drab and flat, with detail akin to a game from 3 years ago. There was no interactivity to speak of, and the shooting mechanic had serious flaws in the accuracy of aiming. The AI, while working, provided little challenge and was prone to getting stuck on the simplest of objects (like a stair). The scenerio is very similar to about a dozen other games; and the story seems almost bolted-on to the action and completely incidental to the game. The dozens of weapons play almost identicle, many even looking very similar to others. The game is expected to be released in November."

    The first was of a game that shows promise, the second was of a game that had some obvious problems. Let's look at what a "normal" preview looks like:

    >"In Joe Bob's Grand Adventure you'll be playing Joe Bob as he fights to regain his Pickle farm from the evil Artichoke-Industrial Complex. The game world is full of interesting characters and enemies all with AI that will be very realistic. In the build we played we ran around and shot stuff and since we didn't want to kill ourselves afterward, this will obviously be a "must have" game. The levels looked great, based on the pre-renders they showed us, and are supposed to be fully interactive using a real-time-inverse-kinematic-physics-engine. There are dozens of weapons in the game, along with what is promised to be the best online multiplayer for a console to date. You'll want to reserve your copy now so you can buy it when it comes out in November."

    It doesn't matter how boring or bug ridden a game is, they always get glowing previews. The only time you even see bugs mentioned in previews is in the previews of games that are expected to be great (due to lineage). You might see something like "In PGR3 we encounted a few small glitches but the game is already a blast to play." In a buggy game you'll see previews like "In Driver 3 you'll be able to drive around a GTA like world." Notice it doesn't mention that if there was a feather in the road it would stop your car dead if you hit it (example based on memory).

    The reviews themselves don't help either. The "average" game seems to get a score of about 80%. A game has to be really bad to get even a medium-low score (40-50%). I think we should force reviewers to use a bell-curve system to fight "Review Inflation."

  • by Henry V .009 (518000) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @07:32PM (#14904396) Journal
    Like Morrowind before it, the Oblivion previews are uniformly gushing. (Though one previewer was silly enough to stick his head up over the edge of the trench, only to get it blown off [tripod.com].) Like Morrowind before it, Oblivion is going to be a poorly realized, buggy, performance-hoging, bore of a game.

    If Square is Ben & Jerry's, and if Black Isle is Häagen-Dazs, then Bethesda is whoever produces those gallon tubs of shit ice cream for fat people who don't care what they're shoving in their face so long as there's lots of it.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aiken_d (127097) <(moc.yrtnegnat) (ta) (skoorb)> on Sunday March 12, 2006 @07:48PM (#14904447) Homepage
    Actually, car enthusiasts spend lots of time drooling over prototypes, "concept cars," and all sorts of other trivia about new cars long before their specs are final or the model even has a release date. Ask me how I know this :)

    I don't see the problem. Casual gamers go down to Walmart and pick up a game. Enthusiasts eat up news months or years in advance. Is the idea here that those poor dumb enthusiasts who actively seek out news and rumour sites are suckered into hiding under a rock between the demos and the release, and then end up making a purchasing decision based on the demos? Just seems like weird logic to me.

    -b
  • Freebie Hardware (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @07:59PM (#14904482) Journal
    Lately, I've been thinking hardware companies don't send review sites expensive computers for free out of the goodness of theri heart
    I remember reading on [H]ardOCP about how they do reviews of most(?) computer systems.

    They have an agreement with the Marketing/PR guys so that they can buy a system (like anyone else) and then get a RMA when they've finished reviewing the system.

    Either the deal works, and they get a random system like anyone else would, or the PR/Marketing guys intervene and the reviewer + several other lucky folks get computers that received a little extra attention.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chris_7d0h (216090) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @08:03PM (#14904496) Journal
    What I was referring to was the implementation, not the ideas governing the implementation.
    Take two different implementations of the same software idea and you'll surely see two different implementations. This even stretches as far as to implementations of the same idea at different points in time by the same developer.

    Don't mend what is not broken rarely applies to software developers (unfortunately). Component reuse was a buzz word a few years ago which unfortunately didn't have much of an impact for inhouse development in cross project form. Developers like to experiment with new stuff and applying new algorithms or patterns to a known problem seems to keep them happy (avoids them being turned into factory workers i guess) and gives them a way to further educate themselves. However, this often impacts the deliverables in a (from a product manager's perspective) negative way since it introduces more unknown factors and deviations with each re-implementaion of a problem solution, than would seem necessary from the inception outlook.

    Engineering in other segments (like the tangible sectors) of the market is simply more strict than in the software market, the latter where people build castles from thin air (pure thought stuff). In software the cost of trying out new approaches to problems is significantly lower than in the tangible markets which gives bored programmers a whole new set of freedoms when it comes to experimentation.

    On a macro level though, the same governing rules apply as in the tangible segments. Stick with a proven formula since it minimizes risk. Yeah, it's boring and yields unimaginative products but that's what you get when the Harvard grads are sitting on the money bag.

    The point I was originally trying to make was that when you pre-order stuff, you do it when you pretty much know what the product will be like. Final products can be predicted pretty well in the utility market but not in the entertainment segment. Utilities are built, marketed and sold upon proven formulas and solid history while entertainment are (or should strive for) about providing new experiences which may often require unproven formulas (higher risk and subjective in appreciation which if appreciated by many can bring in the jackpot). Since entertainment is based on subjective experiences it lends itself poorly at pre-ordering strategies from a consumer's point of view (the unpredicatable nature of the result that is).

  • by Henry V .009 (518000) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @08:56PM (#14904654) Journal
    "Amazing freedom and scope"?

    Familiar... Do they pay you marketing droids extra to work on Sundays? In actual fact, a player has almost zero freedom to influence the game world of Morrowind. Yeah, he can build a character with a different set of skills than another character. Whoo hoo. And scope? I hope you're talking about the mouth wash. Fighting huge birdy things for an hour just to walk to the next tiny dungeon does not add scope to a game. A billion cookie-cutter NPCs does not add scope. Look at Planescape Torment or Fallout to see a game with scope. (Sadly, Bethesda has got its grimy maws on the Fallout franchise; RIP.)

    Instead of paying people to troll slashdot to talk up the next Bethesda bug-fest, maybe they should spend a bit more money and a first-class design and programming team.
  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Sunday March 12, 2006 @09:39PM (#14904809) Homepage
    Poll: Name ONE Bethesda title that didn't suck! I remember back in the early 90's when Doom was all the rage, and everyone was making FPS games, few had the smooth feel of Doom. I had a demo of Terminator Future Shock by Bethesda and holy hell, it felt like I had downgraded back to a 25mhz 386 with EGA. It felt like this game was not only rushed, but 2 years late to market.

    They're not known for making innovative eye-popping works of interactive art, they're known for doing piss-poor me-too ripoffs of whatever's trendy. Just look at their list of releases over the last 15 years.. they don't even have a specialty. You can't really play a game and say "Ooh that's a Bethesda".. At least EA, hate them as we may, they have recognizable sports titles and solid (if cheapened) franchises like Need For Speed. A game house needs to be more than just generic coders with a big-ticket license.. it needs creative direction.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 12, 2006 @10:03PM (#14904890)

        Wrong. Master of Orion 3 kicks ass. It is simply the best game ever.

        What does suck about MOO3 is the bugs of which alot were fixed by the players. MOO3 needs a bug fix release.

    fyi, I am not a PAID reviewer of the game. Just a dedicated player of MOO3.
  • Review inflation (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 12, 2006 @11:17PM (#14905121)
    That's why I loved X-play on TechTV. They weren't afraid to tell people to avoid games like they came with free samples of anthrax. They actually rated games 2 out of 5! (There might have even been some ones here and there.) I really felt that a game in a genre that I liked that rated 4 out 5 would be a good buy when it was on sale, and a 3 would be a mostly entertaining waste of time, but not something to actually purchase. I haven't been able to watch them in almost a year, so I've only seen about two of the G4 produced episodes.
    This is of course in contrast with the other video game review shows on G4 now, which suck so hard that they were studied by Dyson and Oreck. Their shows suffer from score inflation as much as any magazine. Even if they spend the whole time saying that the game was pretty much OK, the games still get a 7 or 8 our of 10.
  • by m0ng0l (654467) on Sunday March 12, 2006 @11:26PM (#14905148)
    I think more so, the point he was trying to make is that reviewers get a gushy over *previews* of the game in question. The problem being, if they don't get "positive gushy," the publisher won't get any more juicy advertiseing dollars.

    So, the bad previews get editorialized into something positive about game X, despite the fact that they were using alpha code, or maybe just pre-rendered screenshots, or even just the design document. Then, readers get geeked up about the game, wait 6 months for preview number 2, which is even more sugary sweetly positive, pre-oder, which convinces the retailers that the game will be a hit, so they get prepped to stock up.

    Then, the game comes out, and sucks. Happens on the PC, happens on the consoles (maybe worse there?) Happens with hardware (oh look! This video card that isn't even in engineering samples will have 6 quintillion transistors, 1 million pixel pipelines, and support DirectX25, plus full Linux and DOS support! Lets write a positive preview of it to get a sample when it actually goes to silicon!)

    One of the hardware sites a couple months back did a power-supply test. However, they didn't request samples from the manufacturers, they went shopping on the web, and ordered from retailers. They did get permission to use a power supply manufacturers test lab, but still bought and brought in a retail package from a web store, of that manufacturers brand. And also managed to convince said company to leave them alone with the test equipment...

    Not sure how they managed that one...

    I've gotten more and more un-impressed with previews. Either they preview goes on about great new features, that don't make the final release (BF2s dynamically re-sizeing maps), or there is just no "meat" to the article, to give a taste of what might be good about the game...
  • by wjamesau (221905) on Monday March 13, 2006 @03:06AM (#14905746)
    Thanks for the fascinating conversation, Slashdotters. Two quick corrections:

    - My name is actually "Wagner James Au".
    - I'm still blogging about Second Life as an embedded journalist at http://nwn.blogs.com/ [blogs.com], though now on a commercial basis with Federated Media, the kids what bring you Boing Boing, Metafilter, and other juicy goodness.

    Lot of worthwhile points worth discussing, but rather than wade in too deep, let me hit at one in particular:

    > The author is trying to posit an implied (but untrue) connection between previews
    > allowing mediocre games to sell and all games 'sucking.' Mediocre stuff sells in
    > every entertainment industry that exists -- if only the best games sold then the
    > market would be too risky to enter.

    Actually, I didn't say all games sucked. What I did say is that due to previews, the few games which don't suck have to compete for shelf space with the 95% of games that do. Preview hype, not game quality, is what guarantees retail store shelf space--especially if the game is backed by a large publisher and/or it's connected to a known brand. And since the average consumer only buys the games that are on the retail shelf, they are far more prone to walk away with a shitty game. This means good games are artificially disadvantaged on the market, which is not open, and it's substantially different in this sense from all the other mediums. A good book or movie can cut through the clutter by word of mouth or good reviews, while it's far more difficult for the same thing to happen with a game, because all the good reviews in the world won't help a game that isn't even on the shelf in the first place.
  • Well, I do (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Moraelin (679338) on Monday March 13, 2006 @03:11AM (#14905763) Journal
    "And really? Truth be told, who wants to read any more than the rare preview to say "omg this game is gonna sucks bad?""

    Well, I, for one, wish someone gave me the full, honest picture for a start. If I'm gonna blow my money on a product, be it a game or a watch or a TV or whatever, I'd like to have the full picture, not just a lopsided hype-only half of of the story. I'd very much like to know the good _and_ the bad, so I can make an informed decision if it's the kind of game I'm looking for.

    Frankly, I never got the seemingly rampant point of view that if you dare say anything bad about a game, or even admit that you read negative reviews, then you're a horrible person, an anti-gamer or game-hater, a troll, and/or a fanboy of the competition. There's this idiotic notion that if it's a game, we should all treat it nicely and say only the nicest stuff. God forbid that someone would be so inconsiderate and hurt the poor developpers' feelings by saying that a game sucks.

    Why? It's a product I'm buying, and not even a cheap product. Why is it so fundamentally wrong to make an informed decision about buying it? Why is it so wrong to give me the whole picture instead of a sweetened sales-pitch?

    It's the same as any other product. If I buy a TV, I want to know if this model's image looks kinda fuzzy or the de-interlacing makes it laggy for console gaming. (Some HDTV models do just that, for example.) I _don't_ want the reviewer to carefully skip all the bad parts. If I buy something as cheap as, dunno, a pair of cheap computer speaker, it would be nice if someone told me in advance "dude, playing anything through these, sounds like playing it through an old Casio watch stuck in an empty plastic barrel". (Don't laugh, I have some speakers that sound just like that.) Etc. All I'm asking is the same for games. It's not that unreasonable a request.

    And on the topic of previews, I don't expect them to predict the future and say "omg, this game is gonna suck". But it would be nice to tell me what works now and what _doesn't_ work now. Does the AI actually do yet what the developpers said it would do? Do the graphics actually look like in the developpers screenshots, or maybe in practice do you have to turn the graphics quality to a _lot_ lower to get more than a slide-show? Does the game system and resource system make any sense, or do you "mine for fish" like in the VG Cats comic strip and get bone by cutting wood? Does the story, as much of it as you can preview, make any sense? How's the balance so far? Does one class kill everything by just repeatedly clicking the left mouse button, while the other needs 15 mana potions per fight? Etc.

    (BTW, the above are not even exaggerations, sadly, but actual examples from games I've played.)

    It doesn't even have to be the meat of the preview, you know. It can just be a "stuff that doesn't work yet" section at the end.

    Yes, we all know that it could get better before release, and feel free to even include a reminder if you wish. But ffs, don't make it sound like it _already_ _is_ better anything that ever happened before, sex included, and so perfectly realistic and detailed that God himself is taking notes for the next time he creates a world.
  • No surprise here (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jamyskis (958091) on Monday March 13, 2006 @03:13AM (#14905769) Homepage
    As someone who works in journalism (not a gaming rag though) I know the laziness that sometimes permeates through the industry. Mostly these previews are just rehashed press releases and the screenshots have been ready-completed by the publisher, and generally look far better than the game actually does (Age of Empires III anyone?) I'd love to know what happened to the "investigative" reporting that made this profession so great instead of acting as a free marketing channel for these companies?
  • Too cynical (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2006 @04:16AM (#14905947)
    most companies dont set out to made mediocre games, nor are there too many really bad games anymore; they arent economically viable (Xtreme Paintbrawl wasnt a financial success, was it?)

    But let's face it: companies have to get the games out the door. They can't all spend decades in development, polishing the turd like DNF or Daikatana. They don't all have a Peter Molineaux to overhype a game, then leave disappointed gamers playing some crappy game that didnt have any features he claimed.

    So most games have a decent premise, and are hopefully able to get a stable game out the door (yes, Trioka, I'm looking at you). And hopefully, the game resonates with enough gamers to where a sequel can be made. Look at how many sequels end up surpassing the original in terms of the overall experience. It's because the first game forms the base, and the company can build on that. But too many devs try shooting for the moon right at the start, and never focus on doing any one thing good by the time their game is forced out the door.
  • You'll notice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SirSmiley (845591) <siraraya&hotmail,com> on Monday March 13, 2006 @06:11AM (#14906224)
    that in same gamepro, gamespy or any other print media/online gaming mag/any other product review mag that when they preview something they will never say "game doesnt have X, game doesnt have Y". What they will say is "looking forward to this game having X and Y, that will be a blast". It's the polite way of saying, please add this or your game will suck, and the reader will never know whether the product was originally designed to have it or if the previewers just think it should be that way,
  • by Shano (179535) on Monday March 13, 2006 @07:22AM (#14906453)

    I've yet to see any game that allows you to influence the world to any great extent beyond pre-scripted events (aside from trivial examples of natural selection). I'd love to see it, and from what I've heard, Oblivion should be closer than anything else. Like lots of the features of Daggerfall, however, I expect it to be either removed or massively cut back.

    The freedom in Morrowind largely comes from the fact that the game doesn't push you hard in any direction. There are enough quests to play the game even if you don't give a toss about Dagoth Ur.

    As for scope, most of that comes from third-party mods, some of which have better storylines than the original game. As long as Oblivion still has the contruction kit, it's guaranteed not to suck completely, at least after a couple of patches. I admit to being a Bethesda fanboy (at least for their RPGs), but if the first release doesn't crash every five minutes with no warning, it's just not a Bethesda game.

  • Re:Easy to Criticize (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bri2000 (931484) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:57AM (#14908499)
    Not only are Edge's previews notably well written, willing to offer constructive criticism and objective they will follow games through the development process (subject, I guess, to developer co-operation) and list any previous issues of Edge in which the game has been featured. Allowing you to trace their evolving view on a game.

    The GamesTM preview section isn't bad either, although I have noticed it becoming a little more "gushy" recently

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears

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