The state of reviews and the influence on games
After reading reviews since the old 16bit times, there is a noticeable shift that happened over that time period. And I`m not sure it`s a good shift.
Games nowadays can be patched on all systems including the consoles without any issues and in most cases booting up a game for the first time on release day will prompt a notification that a patch is available.
As games got bigger and more complex there seems to be also a problem of reduced schedules. Going by the games in the last 5-8 years that causes a lot more problems. Interestingly that doesn`t always seem to get the amount of attention needed during reviews. A good example from last few weeks would be Battlefield 4, a game that`s not exactly free of problems yet still getting good reviews. Without giving much thought to the issues that under normal circumstances should bring the score considerably down. And this isn`t a new issue with reviews. Fallout 3 that was very very buggy got mainly very high scores. I played it and enjoyed it, but that game had a lot of problems and technically it wasn`t up to the standards at that time in many aspects. On the other hand games that are not as high profile will get slammed for having issues or graphics not being up to the current standard. Or at other times you get reviews that give bad scores because the game wasn`t the reviewers cup of tea. As example see the review of the escapist for GTA 5 handing out a low score because the reviewer didn`t like the main characters because they where not lovable cuddly people, but instead bad guys.
The first case is the biggest problem, because companies like EA have set internal goals to reach a certain metacritic score for each game. If they don`t hit the score for their big games things can get problematic for them. The problem is they rush out a game to release before CoD and the game isn`t up to technical standards when released and needs to be patched several times before it`s more functional. Yet many bigger reviewers kind of brush over the issues and don`t take them really into account for the final score and EA hits their target score and continues to operate the way they have.
So reviewers support that way of the games industry and when Battlefield 5 comes out it will be buggy and have issues without receiving a low score for it because they need to release the game fast. The thinking behind the executives who make those decisions will be that this didn`t impact the scores of the last 2 games so why should it be different now and will continue to just release too early and fix them up later.
Do I want to play games as soon as possible? Sure I want that, but than again having a buggy game 3-5 months earlier instead of functioning game at a later point, I rather go with the later choice. Gamers had to deal with buggy games more than enough times over the years and there are only so many buggy games I will buy in release before I wait for the sequel to be fixed before I buy it. Currently reviewers support that bad business practice for larger titles by giving good scores despite of the games not working correct.
Will this change for next gen? I have my doubts, but at least UbiSoft seems to realize that you can`t just release some buggy games and they delayed Watch Dogs because it wasn`t up to their standards. Games shouldn`t be released if they are not up to quality standards instead of releasing them because they will still sell and still get good reviews and just fix it at some later point after all the people bought the games.