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Video Game Reviews Should Be Updated

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Writing video game reviews is fun and a great creative outlet but the end requires scoring the game, which can be daunting. There is pressure to be objective here and subjective there, it should be based on your personal opinion overall though. Backlash from readers typically weighs on my mind because I want what I write to reflect exactly how I feel about the game. In order to keep that in mind, reviews of games should be updated over time.

A primary example of a game which needs to have a second look is No Man’s Sky. I have not played this title but the fact that it fell on its face upon release and was later given a revamp update, speaks for itself in requiring another review. From the Developers standpoint and the consumer, don’t you think it would need to be given a second chance? Of course if the game was absolute trash to begin with, it will be difficult to bring back the initial audience. It would require a very persuasive and intriguing update note from the developer but then it would just take an update to those that already bought the game. You as the consumer would be at an even bigger loss if you chose not to try it for a second time once the developer recognized the problems and used that to improve its product.

A smaller title that I have personally played that I updated its score, is Full Blast. It’s a shoot ’em up game that captured my attention from the start and I enjoyed the game very much. When I played it for review, I had not played any other shmups on the eShop. My viewpoint was very narrow and it had been so long since I’ve played this genre, the game felt like it hit every mark for me. Some months following I was given the chance to review a handful more shooters and felt immediate regret having given it such a high score. The games I was playing at that point were better and worse. It made scoring easier when I had other specific titles to compare it to. This is also true of other video game genres, the more games you play the more you have to make comparisons with, and the better you will become at scoring/reviewing games.

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Replayability is considered when reviewing a game and giving it a score. Typically it’s based on the thought of returning to the game. Will I play this game once the review is done? Will I make time to play it because I want to play it? It’s basically an educated prediction because it hasn’t happened yet. For that reason we should consider returning to our reviews. Maybe some don’t consider replayability but I certainly do. I have a friend (no really) that has put nearly 300 hours into Enter The Gungeon. Replayability? Very high for him indeed. If you’re lucky enough to find a game that keeps pulling you back in, that’s one of the best feelings when playing video games. It draws you to play it, you want to, and you enjoy it very much.

There are sites I’m sure you’ve seen that either removed their numerical scoring system or have never had one, that’s a shame. I would argue a review should have a numbered score because it’s difficult to do so. You’ve played a game and hopefully had your fun, now funnel that into a summary of impressions and score the game. I’ve always wanted to write video game reviews and didn’t realise how difficult the end process would be. I’ve been given shit about my scores on both sides of the spectrum and sometimes it’s alright because it’s expected but other times it makes me feel bad. Did I judge this to the best of my ability? Is this how I really feel? Nothing is set in stone and anything can and should change if necessary. Sky Force Anniversary is a game that I didn’t have second thoughts about my score, but I felt I could add more information on. While playing after my review, I felt the highest difficulty setting was the most fun, and exclaimed out loud many times that I was still enjoying the game. Making writing personal is the best part and can draw people to give the game a try, which is usually the hopes of writers in the first place. We don’t want to just get a load of games for free and dish them off with bad scores. The goal is to get good games, have fun playing them, spread those thoughts and in turn help the developer.

I have a somewhat simple method I use to score games but I’m working on fine-tuning that. While some folks use the 1-10 score plain and simple, I use multiple factors that have a score then average them for the final. It helped me pinpoint how I felt about different areas of the game to bring them all together. That has worked pretty well but I still plan on taking a deeper look to make sure it has all the factors of a game that build the score. Essentially I don’t want to question my initial score as soon as I submit it. I hope you enjoyed my ranting, thank you for reading.

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7 replies »

  1. First of all, awesome to read and a fascinating topic, one that I’ve thought about a lot over my years of writing reviews.

    I think the main issue is the obvious one; time. Going back to each game could nearly double the review process depending on how much has changed, plus you’d need a good memory of what the game was originally like.

    But you’re also completely right to point out that some games change massively, such as No Man’s Sky. I’ve not gone back to it but know from the reading articles and chatting to other peple that it has changed a great deal.

    For me it probably comes down to the fact that I still feel like the game at launch should be what the developers intended. That’s what I’m reviewing, not their future promises or plans. But the world is changing and updates have become bigger and bigger. Maybe it’s time to change.

  2. With games as a service becoming more of a thing. Its going to become more and more nesscary for reviewers to update reviews. Thats good news for gamers, that games can be updated so substanially that updates are needed. But its also more for us to do as reviewers.

    I did play No mans sky at launch, and i’ve played it after the numerous updates. They are barely even the same game anymore and its intial reviews don’t reflect its current quailty at all. Not every game needs a new review when its updated. But ones with changes to that degree do.

  3. For a long time, I didn’t use ratings in my reviews. Later I started using a seven-point scoring system, which I’m sure pisses off new readers. But I prefer rating things out of seven. I know ten points is the standard, but… I don’t know. I’m too contrarian.

  4. So far I don’t utilize a scoring system for my game reviews, simply as I think that an opinion about a game doesn’t tend to really translate well into numbered scores. That’s just me though, and many reviewers can indeed do a good rating system. With No Man’s Sky, I agree, it very much needed a second shot which it got through various outlets reviewing the Next update and sort of summarizing all changes made in the game. I never got a chance to review No Man’s Sky when it originally came out, although I’ve played it, and especially after the Next update it felt like a different game entirely, so I gave it a go and came away with much better opinions. There’s also games that have dramatically evolved over many years, such as Warframe and Rocket League, so again many gave them ‘updated’ reviews and it is important to go back to some of your older reviews and change them up if you have a different opinion. I’m planning to do a few in my 2016 reviews in the style of ‘Revisited’ category I have for older titles, but there’s such a large pool of newer games to still play through.

  5. Awesome post Trevor! Sharing how to review games and why it should be done is interesting. Video Game Reviews are important. They help improve a game and tell consumers what the game is about, its features, strong points and flaws. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Reblogged this on Around The Bonfire and commented:
    An interesting perspective on going back to review games after release. For my own personal take games as a piece of media are still held to a similar static perspective, a finished product like a movie or book. As games continue to be patched and supported following release there is a valid argument to be made for going back to a title in its ‘finished state’ although arguably when that occurs is open to interpretation. Either way an interesting take on this subject matter.

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