Sessler's Soapbox: The Science of Game Reviews

Posted: July 6, 2010
Sessler's Soapbox: The Science of Game Reviews
Adam discusses a recent study that attempted to determine if reading a review first can affect your enjoyment and opinion of a game.

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  • lilbrinkie

    I'm looking for a senior research project for my psyc degree, and I think judging the number against the content of a review is a likely candidate. It has application to my future field (industrial/organizational psychology), is fairly simple to design, and it's something I'm genuinely interested in. Do you know of any other groups/individuals that may already be on this task?

    Posted: August 15, 2010 12:09 PM
  • ZoMbIEx23x

    I need to quit looking at numbers man, they're everywhere!

    Posted: August 11, 2010 11:43 PM
  • ArrenKae

    If you're not biased against the wii b/c it's wiik then you've bad taste.

    Opinions are like A holes, everyone has one.

    I remember some years ago, I think it was Time Warner licensing some movie IPs to EA, that had an addendum to the contract that if the first game using the IP recieved under a certain metascore then the right to use the IP for further games would be revoked.

    Posted: July 24, 2010 5:49 PM
  • blizz83

    I'm not entirely sold on the results of this study. While it is true that game reviews(and reviewers) do carry weight with the average consumer. That's not the case in every situation. Otherwise how do we explain all the times when a game has gotten terrible to mixed reviews but still sold pretty decently. Do you think that Konami could still make Dynasty Warriors games if there wasn't somebody out there still buying it. I could tell you first hand that I will probably always buy a Drangon ball game or a Devil May Cry game no matter what the reviews are. Reviews for me are more of a tool I use to help me describe a game to someone else. However I will admit that I'm no different when it comes to a game I'm on the fence about. Sometimes I will let reviews be the ultimate decider on those games I know very little about. But if the marketing was better for those games, that scenerio would probably never come up. Case in point, I remember buying Enter the Matrix on day one even though the early reviews was bad to medium. It truly had very little to do with my love for the movies. It was mostly because the marketing was so good for it that it made me want to play it. I don't have the numbers in front of me but I'm pretty sure that first week it was out, it sold pretty well. The point I'm trying to make is this, if there is a game you really want to play or something got you really excited about it. I honestly believe you can have a hundred people tell you it's bad, but you'll still want to play it for yourself.

    Posted: July 20, 2010 4:03 PM
  • liarsthieves

    Dogs like cheese

    Posted: July 19, 2010 9:11 AM
  • SDwiz

    I think he's right about game reviews their just opinions from game critics.And just because one reviewer dosen't like a game doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it,make your own choice about what you think about the game.And the scores for games confuse things more because they put certain gamers on edge,for example if a game gets a high score they think most of the gaming public will love it,sometimes this is true,their are other games that get low scores that the gaming public loves.Make your own choices about the games you play because every gamer is not the same.

    Posted: July 17, 2010 11:44 AM
  • TheMilkMonster

    Also, has anyone else who is subscribed to g4 podcasts on itunes noticed that they have gotten quiter? I can barely hear the new episodes with my laptop speakers all the way up

    Posted: July 15, 2010 12:18 PM
  • TheMilkMonster

    the only thing that would be said against it is that when I see 5 out of 5 or 1 out of 5, I'm immediately intrigued to see the rest of the review(I love seeing 1 out of 5 reviews because they are usually the funniest). But to the games that get 3/5, I guess it really is detrimental to the written review because I'm more likely to skip over that one. For a game like Deathspank, or Castle Crashers where there's a relatively small amount of money at risk(arcade games), reviews aren't as important to me. Also, I think reputation has a lot to do with it. I'm convinced I'll buy Fable 3 even if g4 gives it a 2 or 3. But if Rage gets a low score and bad review I might reconsider.

    Posted: July 15, 2010 12:16 PM
  • YesIt'sCake

    To be honest, I didnt pay much attention the this episode of Soapbox. The reason being is that I was too focused on watching Earthworm Jim on one of the televisions in the background. But I do agree that reviews on games, much like movies, should not discourage any potential buyer from purchasing a game.

    Posted: July 11, 2010 8:58 PM
  • GMickey

    Firstly, I would like to say that this is one of the best soapboxes Ive seen so far Adam. The discussion was nicely done on Feedback. I just wish that the study had been more in depth than what it was, more perameters to bounce off the hapless 'guinea pigs' would have been interesting. Hopefully they will be continuing this study in the future.

    I agree with all of Lunareclpse had to say. Good points. Im just a casual gamer, not hardcore(except on special occasions).

    Of course the first thing that I see in a review is the numerical rating given, most people do. I even look for that. It gives me a clear idea of the opinion of the rater right from the start. Then I read, or as in the case of X play, watch the review. I like to see for myself if I like the eye candy on screen. Cinematics and promo vids are always WAY prettier than the games themselves, tho, the gaming industry is catching up rapidly. I watch gameplay vids from several sources and try to catch ones where the actual players are the ones talking at the end of the demo. And I NEVER take a review from a gaming company as anything else than what it is, advertisement only.

    Overall, I think that reviews are more pointing people in the right direction to a game that fits for them, so, their enjoyment is increased in that way. Are people more likely to recommend a game due to a review? Maybe, but I think its that persons gaming experience with that particular game that makes them want to.

    NortheastMonk is right. You guys have the best reviews around. Smart and funny always wins. Please keep up the good work.

    Posted: July 11, 2010 1:32 PM
  • greendogg55

    no I don't care I will only buy 4/5 and up

    Posted: July 11, 2010 11:28 AM
  • Crash486

    Mr. Sessler,

    I'd like to share my opinion on the topic of video game reviews vs numerical scores. I can't speak for all consumers obviously, but I can tell you I view scores as more of a classification for a review than as a bottom line as to rather or not I should purchase the game. For example, you referenced metacritic in your soapbox. I personally use metacritic as a directory for written reviews, using the individual numerical scores to classify reviews as "positive or negative" outlooks. For example, if a game receives a metascore of 88, I'll browse through the highest, lowest, and median scores to find out what those particular critics found to be good or bad about the game. I can't believe I'd be alone in thinking I'm the only person who likes a justification for a numerical score. Without textual explanation to justify the numerical score, the score is really empty. Its the same reason I'd go over my exams results to find out why my score was the way it was. You can bet if the professor didn't note why he had deducted points I'd be in his office the next day contesting the score (unless it was good of course).

    Posted: July 10, 2010 1:04 PM
  • Yasac

    I can say for certainy I wouldn't have bought games like Brutal Legend if it weren't for the Sessler bump. I'm pretty happy with what I got until I go onto G4 and everyone is all like THIS GAME ROCKS! And I believe them because i trust this source, and they don't let me down very often. In fact I don't think I would have bought Mass Effect (first impression thought it was star wars rip off wanted more KOTOR instead) But so I did and I'm still playing it on my 6th character. Oh in speaking of that, Adam the game is now perfect the latest patch enhanced mining so you can zoom through planets picking up resources at light speed.

    Posted: July 10, 2010 8:03 AM
  • ~that1guy~

    is it bad that i pay more attention to whats happening behind adam than what he is really talkin about. i have to watch these things more than once because i get distracted easily. i think reviews really do influence what games we buy. we read these things for a reason and that is to find out what the game is like before we waste money on a game we might hate. But sometimes no matter what any review site says if i really want to play a game im gonna play that game because i want to see what its like for myself. we need to get rid of the numbers and stars and whatever and just put Buy, Rent, or Pass. like the Dvduesday thing on AOTS. or just put up a written review and let the gamer decide whether or not to get the game.

    Posted: July 9, 2010 8:36 PM
  • teac77

    It's great that Sony used "5 out of 5 -X-Play" in their TV ads for when God of War III came out.

    Posted: July 9, 2010 3:48 AM
  • teac77

    It's great that Sony used "5 out of 5 -X-Play" in their TV ads for when God of War III came out.

    Posted: July 9, 2010 3:45 AM

    I think reviews help me alot i watch x-play everyday and i think the tet and the score are evenly important because u need to know why it got 5 out of 5 or 2 out of 5 but in some cases the text matters more then the score or the score means more then the text but hey like Adam said its just an opinion so this is just my opinion of this subject.

    Posted: July 8, 2010 1:49 PM
  • R3LF_13

    I do find reviews very helpful, but to Adam's point I look at text much more then scores. There are many times that a reviewer will mention a negitive that to them is small but to me is a deal breaker. On the other hand sometimes there will be mention of something that is deal breaking to the review but it something i don't really mind.

    with that said though, i do like metacritic if just to get the general concenses quickly on an easy to read page. Otherwise, you may find yourself swayed by a review that is actually an outlyer to the conventional wisdom. I think this actually also goes to adam's point that its dangerous to rely on a single reviewer.

    Posted: July 8, 2010 10:35 AM
  • New&Improved_S_Hawk

    Oops i accidentally posted that 3 times.

    Posted: July 8, 2010 9:22 AM
  • New&Improved_S_Hawk

    Oh Mr. Sessler. Do I, the-new-and-improved-steven-ha wking, have the show for you. Follow this baby right over here --> http://www.youtube.com/user/to bin00 <-- and experience the show which is NooBTooB. NO this is NOT SPAM. I am just a casual listener of this show which does pointless reviews......that came out wrong. But anyways, they implement the Buy/Rent/Pass system and are extremely funny and a bit racy while doing so. This isn't the avrg video-game podcast. Defiantly tune in to the boxed-wine-drinking, chain-saw-on-a-stick-slashing, asian-friendly, dash-loving show which is NooBTooB. Yaahoww.

    Posted: July 8, 2010 5:58 AM