So there’s quite the controversy over the firing of a reviewer at gamespot.com with allegations that he was fired for giving a bad review to a game that was an advertiser for the site. This comes a couple weeks after pne of the Penny Arcade guys says that game reviewing is essentially broken. Overall, I think I kind of agree. Think about it, game reviewers are almost always under pressure to be the first one to review something so they have to rush through the game. Movie reviewers don’t have to watch a movie on fast forward nor do music critics. But most movies are 90 minutes and most albums are even shorter than that. But even short games are 10 hours and the Half-life episodes are something like 4-6 hours. So it really isn’t fair to review a game in the same way you review a film.
Game reviews need to stop being so focused on getting out first, and certainly need to stop worrying about pissing off the advertisers. Moreoever, reviews need to change their content. Most reviews are the same format: gameplay, graphics, multiplayer. Sure those are interesting but isn’t there more to it than that?
On a somewhat related note is the fact that at the heart of this is the competition to be the first and the pressure is double for gaming magazines. They have lag time between writing in publication of months compared to a websites potential to have mere minutes between writing and publishing. They can’t compete with websites for exclusives forever. They need to stop trying. They need to offer things that more websites don’t do. There’s the saying quality over quantity but I think in this case the phrase should be quality over quickness. Do something different and maybe your reviews won’t stink and maybe you won’t have to rush through a game and maybe just maybe you won’t be so dependent on preview access to games so you won’t have to worry about pissing off gaming companies.