160 - Blockbuster Narrative Lessons

Developer diaries about creating Neverending Nightmares.
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matt
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Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:48 am

Re: 160 - Blockbuster Narrative Lessons

Post by matt »

I think video games reviews are totally different than movie reviews. Movie reviewers are perfectly willing to give their opinion. If someone gives Transformers a one star review, then Michael Bay doesn't care. If you really don't like a AAA game and give it a one star, then you might get in trouble with that publisher and never get press invitations again. You might screw poor developers out of royalties (I dunno if anyone still links royalties to metacritic score but probably).

Video game reviews are basically done with kiddie gloves on compared to movies and things like production value and visual polish are taken into account whereas movie reviewers are free to say if they like something or not. I'm willing to bet not every reviewer that gives Assassin's Creed good reviews is super excited to play ANOTHER Assassin's creed game, but I suspect it's rarely reflected in their review score.

I guess I can't complain too much because if people review my games poorly, it hurts, so as long as I benefit from review inflation, I can't complain.

It's weird to think that games with reviews lower than 75% are pretty much NOT worth playing, but Edge of Tomorrow only got a 71% on Metacritic. I imagine it's definitely worth seeing though because it has a 90% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

In my opinion, Rotten Tomatoes is better for determining whether a movie is worth seeing or not because the degree that someone liked it averaged out is a strange metric (when the results aren't really uniform - unlike in video games) vs. taking the binary average of whether a reviewer liked it or not.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

ranger_lennier
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Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 5:37 pm

Re: 160 - Blockbuster Narrative Lessons

Post by ranger_lennier »

Definitely movie critics tend to give lower scores than video game critics, but I don't think that matters as long as readers know about what quality level a score corresponds to. For instance, IGN defines 6 as OK, 7 as good, 8 as great, and 9 as amazing. And something along those lines seems common. No one reviews all the games that come out, but when you limit the discussion to the more prominent games reviewed by these outlets, I don't find it too unreasonable to say that the average game is pretty good. (According to Metacritic, IGN's average game score is 69.) I do find it a little hard to say simply because I don't have enough time to play games that are merely "good"--I don't even have time to play all the "great" and "amazing" games.

I don't really think publishers frequently retaliate for bad reviews. They'd just be shooting themselves in the foot if their next game gets less coverage, and the publicity would be really bad if anything got out, like when Jeff Gerstmann was fired from Gamespot because of his negative review of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men.

Review scores are going to have an impact on developers, but really I don't see anything for reviewers to do other than accept that their reviews make an impact on game purchases (otherwise why would they do them), and try to be as fair as possible to both the developers and the gamers who would be spending money on the game. Even if bonuses aren't linked directly to Metacritic, a game launch is a dangerous time for a studio, and bad reviews can lead to poor sales and the studio shutting down. I was interested in Murdered: Soul Suspect before it was released, but after the reviews came out (49-62 on Metacritic depending on the platform), I decided I could skip it. Airtight Games shut down one month after the game's release.

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matt
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Re: 160 - Blockbuster Narrative Lessons

Post by matt »

I think publishers expect game reviewers to give games the benefit of the doubt even if it's not "their bag". Reviewers give opinions, and movie reviewers can give opinions if they just aren't digging a movie. I think if a website gave a bunch of negative reviews to "critically acclaimed: games, the publishers would stop giving preview copies and inviting them to press events, which would make it hard for the website to do that.

I'm not saying that the way things work is necessarily "bad", but I am just pointing out that it isn't really analogous to movie reviews, and it isn't likely that people are giving their pure unfiltered impressions because that's not really what is expected in a video game review.

Sometimes I like reading bad reviews for games that are pretty well received just because it's a breath of fresh air, but maybe I'm weird. Also, I'm a hypocrite because I hope we don't get any for Neverending Nightmares. hahah
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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