Question How reliable do you think professional game reviews are?

When I was talking in the "How do you decide on new games" thread, I thought this would be a great discussion. I did a search, and didn't see another similar thread.

How reliable do you think professional reviews are? My opinion is that they're useful, but not completely reliable. A lot of the big websites and video channels that do reviews are under a time crunch. They make money by putting out more videos and articles. So I've heard of professional reviewers being pressured to get their reviews out quickly, and a lot of times they don't have the time to really give the game a chance. We all know that you can't just play a big game for a couple of hours and get a good idea of what the game is like, but it happens in reviews.

Another problem is that a lot of sites have reviewers that are specifically for the different consoles or PC. So you have one reviewer that handles all Nintendo stuff, and another for all Xbox stuff, etc. The problem with that is that means they end up doing reviews on games that are in genres that they don't even like, or games that they're partial to. So you end up getting a bunch of heavily biased reviews.

My opinion is that professional reviews are useful to get details and information, but not necessarily useful for an opinion on the games. I would rather read through 10-20 unpaid user reviews than one professional review.

What do you guys think?
 
Nov 4, 2020
195
375
970
Unless a reviewer demonstrates a serious flaw such as queuing for a matchmaker sessions for ages on a game that boasts many thousand players i dont take much notice of them , most of them are load and just seem to like the sound of their own voice.

One game i nearly bought was a multiplayer game called sea of thieves , the reviewer put a timer on his desk to show he waited a VERY long time when trying to get a game and their were supposed to be hundreds online
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
I find them to be very reliable BUT you have to read them correctly! Many people just gloss over articles, trying to figure out if the game is good or bad. Unless you are lucky enough to find a reviewer who's tastes very closely match your own, that's not going to work well at all.

What you have to do is translate them to your own values. For instance, I like getting into little details more often than most people. Where a reviewer might decry getting bogged down in micromanagement, that can still register as a positive for me! If the reviewer starts using a lot of nasty adjectives, though, it could well be too much even for me, but a moderate complaint is something I see as a good sign.

The counter-intuitive thing about that is that a reviewer whose tastes DO match my own is going to come across as being terrible because every one of my "fixes" is going to be wrong! That's why it's also important to read a few reviews. You aren't going to get the average gamer's perspective by reading just one person's take.

Steam reviews are.... different. A ton of them give no details at all and are thus nearly useless. Some are rather dubious but, thankfully, most of those are of the no-detail variety so I'm ignoring them anyway. But some go into detail and can be really useful. Pro reviews go into more detail and are better written, but the Steam reviews have the advantage of timeliness. With my practice of playing games months or years after release, it helps a lot to know what the game is like now instead of how it was before the patches and mods were made.
 

Frindis

Moderator
Most of the time I'll watch a gameplay video of the game when it is out. The majority of the time this will tell me if I like the style of the game and how it overall feels. If I'm a bit on the fence, I'll check out some of the reviewers I like and if they manage to convince me I'll give the game a try.
 
I find them to be very reliable BUT you have to read them correctly! Many people just gloss over articles, trying to figure out if the game is good or bad. Unless you are lucky enough to find a reviewer who's tastes very closely match your own, that's not going to work well at all.

What you have to do is translate them to your own values. For instance, I like getting into little details more often than most people. Where a reviewer might decry getting bogged down in micromanagement, that can still register as a positive for me! If the reviewer starts using a lot of nasty adjectives, though, it could well be too much even for me, but a moderate complaint is something I see as a good sign.

The counter-intuitive thing about that is that a reviewer whose tastes DO match my own is going to come across as being terrible because every one of my "fixes" is going to be wrong! That's why it's also important to read a few reviews. You aren't going to get the average gamer's perspective by reading just one person's take.

Steam reviews are.... different. A ton of them give no details at all and are thus nearly useless. Some are rather dubious but, thankfully, most of those are of the no-detail variety so I'm ignoring them anyway. But some go into detail and can be really useful. Pro reviews go into more detail and are better written, but the Steam reviews have the advantage of timeliness. With my practice of playing games months or years after release, it helps a lot to know what the game is like now instead of how it was before the patches and mods were made.
Yeah, I agree you need to read between the lines, and they can still be beneficial. But I think the bigger problem than the reviewer not having the same tastes is the ones where the site editors rush them through the game and they can't really know what they're talking about.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Brian Boru

Zloth

Community Contributor
Reviews that are factually wrong seem pretty rare, whether it's caused by rushing or missing something (at least until the game changes things). But, whatever the case, if you read two reviews and they have different facts, you know to go look up a third. Comments on the articles can clue you in, too.
 
I find professional reviews largely unreliable and poorly done. Reviewers generally lock in on one facet of a game and beat that to death, and then give very little information on the rest of the game. Also, more than in any other type of review, gaming reviews are just a snapshot of the reviewer's feelings rather than a critical analyses of the game. There is so little factual information given sometimes that you wonder how much of the game they actually played.

Certainly, you can use your brain to attempt to make more of the review than there actually is, and that may help you some, but from my experience, most reviews simply don't give enough information by themselves for you to make an informed buying decision. That's why I'll read multiple professional reviews and then multiple user reviews. Honestly, the user reviews are almost always more helpful. Yes, I'm very aware of how terrible most user reviews are, but it's easy enough to scan through those and find the ones that have real value.
 
Most of the time I'll watch a gameplay video of the game when it is out. The majority of the time this will tell me if I like the style of the game and how it overall feels.
I haven't bothered reading a game review in about 7 years. If I am interested in a game, I wait for it to be released and watch videos of actual game play, so I can cut through the hype and see what it really is.
 
May 11, 2022
31
69
120
There are a number of steps I take. Game reviews by PC Gamer is usually the first step. It alerts me to new and re-issued games. I read the review and ask myself whether it sounds interesting. The reviewer's score has only a little relevance. If it passes this test then I look at the Metacritic site - see what users are saying and take that into account. I also look at what the critics have to say. One thing I am aware of is that some critics suffer from the "progress bug" - i.e. the game may be too similar to something they already have played like "Grim Dawn" yet the users give good reviews because it is fun to play. Alternatively we have users who leave bad reviews because there isn't a Russian translation or the multiplayer aspect doesn't work - neither of which I care about.

Next I will look at various gameplay videos and a DEMO (if one exists). The final step is to update my GOG or STEAM wish-list.

I am not sure I always do it in the order specified above but prior to buying all steps are completed. Even then I will end up with the odd dud (my definition) e.g. Observation with a QTE that I could not quite do (Gameover) or the memorisation of 22 key sequence and the right tempo while hitting the keyboard (Legend of Grimrock). I suppose nothing is without risk.
 
Here's a 2020 thread on a similar topic:


some critics suffer from the "progress bug"
Yeah, that's something which annoys me too. Fun trumps innovation every time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mainer
I think professional reviews are generally fine. At the end of the day, I'm generally not going to be basing my decision to buy/wishlist a game on a single review anyways. I tend to prefer narrative reviews on YouTube that don't give scores. I think the absence of a score facilitates paying more attention to the details and how they apply to your tastes. Someone may give a game a 7/10, but the only negatives they give could be total non-issues to you.

Ultimately, reading multiple reviews allows you to gain a better assessment of what the broad strengths and weaknesses are. Generally, by collecting more information you can get a sense as to whether or not certain critiques are relevant to your tastes or not. For example, an RPG that is "too slow" or "text heavy" may actually be a positive to someone like me who enjoys world-building and stories. Games have a lot of moving parts and are quite subjective, so you kind of have to do a bit of reflection to determine how relevant certain strengths/weaknesses are to you. I thought that @Zloth did a rather excellent job of summarizing this above. A review isn't really about agreement, it's really whether they provide enough information so you can determine if they game suits your tastes.
 
Nov 27, 2020
716
2,009
6,270
My opinion is that professional reviews are useful to get details and information, but not necessarily useful for an opinion on the games.
Many people just gloss over articles, trying to figure out if the game is good or bad. Unless you are lucky enough to find a reviewer who's tastes very closely match your own, that's not going to work well at all.

What you have to do is translate them to your own values. For instance, I like getting into little details more often than most people. Where a reviewer might decry getting bogged down in micromanagement, that can still register as a positive for me!
I do appreciate, and read, reviews from professional (paid employees) writers, but one of the main aspects that I look for in those reviews is the technical performance of a new game, as well as the presence or frequency of bugs. Professional writers will spot them and (hopefully) go into detail, and that is generally consistent across all reviews.

The rest tends to be subjective. I understand that the writers are human (even @PCG Jody :)), but their personal opinions can't help but bleed into a review that should be a bit more objective. As @Zloth states, a gamer's own gameplay values/likes may differ greatly, so that a listed negative is actually a positive. I like micromanagement, reading books and notes, and detailed conversations in a game, but to some those are negative aspects.

One thing I am aware of is that some critics suffer from the "progress bug" - i.e. the game may be too similar to something they already have played like "Grim Dawn" yet the users give good reviews because it is fun to play.
For example, an RPG that is "too slow" or "text heavy" may actually be a positive to someone like me who enjoys world-building and stories. Games have a lot of moving parts and are quite subjective, so you kind of have to do a bit of reflection to determine how relevant certain strengths/weaknesses are to you.
One thing that's been bugging me with some reviews these past few years, is that I often see statements like: "it's the same old formula", "the gameplay is old and tired", or "there's nothing new here", and similar type statements. Some gamers, like myself, like that. Not every game needs to be completely different. If a gameplay formula/style/mechanics are the same as a previous game, why should that be a negative? It isn't. As @SleepingDog stated, review scores are basically irrelevant.

However, I think there can be a side effect to the score a receives, whether high or low. A game's popularity, success/failure (in sales) may be affected by just the scores. I think there are those who look at the games "score" and only glance at the article, and base their judgement on that value.

Steam reviews are.... different. A ton of them give no details at all and are thus nearly useless. Some are rather dubious but, thankfully, most of those are of the no-detail variety so I'm ignoring them anyway. But some go into detail and can be really useful.
I read those too, and it's pretty easy to filter out the useless ones and the review "bombers". The really good ones will actually give you a more objective view of the game & gameplay that a professional reviewer. One thing I always look for in those Steam reviews, is how many hours the reviewer actually spent in the game.
 
i like to think that most reviewers have integrity to write a fair and unbiased review. But that said its all opinion and its always accessing multiple articles to build a bigger picture. I don't just mean go to metacritic for a score, i mean read/watch reviews and understand the criticisms and features of the game. If its a serious issue i would damn well expect it to appear repeatedly.

second , watch and/or play a demo to get a feel for it. if there is a game i want to play but unsure of, i watch some twitch gameplay footage to get a feel for things. Hell sometimes i preten that d i'm playing it!

lastly, if a reviewer doesn't make a convincing reason why a game is good or bad, discard it.

But are there any sources that i would avoid? most of the user submitted reviews in steam et al are trash, but some do gleam some useful information like its too short, bugs, etc but again take with a massive pinch of salt as some have an axe to grind.

That said, i have seen some seriously dubious reviews in the past from PCG like the dragons age 2 review getting 94% for a game i found underwhelming and lazy in places. Any reviews where people get flown to the dev studio to play raise eyebrows as well. but that said, it would be pretty funny if there was a negative review after all the vip treatment.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
So read multiple reviews, read them carefully, and also read various user reviews. Maybe even look up some videos. All for a purchase of $25-60. I spent almost $25 at Popeye's Chicken but didn't decide to go there until 5 minutes before I made the purchase.

I suspect there could be other factors involved in my research. ;)
 
I find professional reviews largely unreliable and poorly done. Reviewers generally lock in on one facet of a game and beat that to death, and then give very little information on the rest of the game. Also, more than in any other type of review, gaming reviews are just a snapshot of the reviewer's feelings rather than a critical analyses of the game. There is so little factual information given sometimes that you wonder how much of the game they actually played.

Certainly, you can use your brain to attempt to make more of the review than there actually is, and that may help you some, but from my experience, most reviews simply don't give enough information by themselves for you to make an informed buying decision. That's why I'll read multiple professional reviews and then multiple user reviews. Honestly, the user reviews are almost always more helpful. Yes, I'm very aware of how terrible most user reviews are, but it's easy enough to scan through those and find the ones that have real value.
Finally someone who understands what I'm talking about. :D
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts