The recent Pokemon Sword and Shield and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order reviews are making it incredibly clear just how untruthful many game journalists are. Both of these games have come out to rave review scores, despite the journalists reviewing them having plenty of criticisms.
Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I was always under the impression that it’s a reviewer’s job to objectively look at something and provide a clear review of it afterward. Sure, a little opinion can seep in at times, but it shouldn’t be the driving factor behind scores.
Clearly, this isn’t the case anymore.
Just take a look at the IGN review of Pokemon Sword and Shield. The reviewer gives the game a 9.3 out of 10 despite a laundry list of flaws. Luckily, readers called them out in the comments.
It’s not just IGN, either. There are plenty of other reviews that are heaping praise on Pokemon Sword and Shield. Sometimes the reviewer doesn’t even bring up many of the flaws in the game. If the reviewer can’t notice these issues, then how is their review trustworthy?
GameSpot’s review of Pokemon Sword and Shield is a prime example of this. The reviewer this time is the same one known for the “too much water” controversy in the IGN Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire reviews. However, here they ignore, or just don’t notice, flaws in the game and give it an incredibly high 9 out of 10. Luckily, readers weren’t having it.
The pushback on Pokemon Sword and Shield makes sense. There’s been so much controversy surrounding these games I can’t even reasonably list it all here, but we do have extensive coverage of it.
So how about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order?
Yet again, we have more cases of journalists criticizing the product in the review, but still dropping ridiculously high scores on them.
The Game Informer piece is a perfect example. The reviewer lists an extensive collection of flaws, such as poor tells for enemy attacks, enemies freezing in place, and BD-1 not healing when commanded. But the publication still gives the game an 8.75 out of 10!
The same is true over at GamesRadar. This time around, the review points out a story that doesn’t pick up until near the end, various glitches, and poor performance on consoles. Even with all these issues hampering the game, it still gets a nearly-perfect 4 out of 5!
So why exactly are we getting all these high scores in games with apparent flaws? It could just be overzealous reviewers unable to use a critical eye, but there’s another reason: review copies.
Reviewers that criticize blockbuster games may not get their hands on early review copies in the future. That matters because it delays the review until well after release, which is lost web traffic and ad revenue for the publication.
Before anyone calls me a conspiracy theorist, I’m speaking from personal experience. During my time as a professional writer, I’ve reviewed plenty of games. I’ve also seen my reviews result in blacklistings from publishers.
Do you want to hear something even worse than that? While writing for other publications, there were times editors told me to go easy on games.
Why would I be asked to do this? The game’s publisher had advertised on the site. The editor didn’t want poor review scores ruining another chance at ad revenue.
To be clear, this has never been an issue at CCN.com.
So here’s the thing: game journalists are to blame. So are publications for pushing them down this route. But we also have to point fingers at game publishers that withhold review copies – or ad revenue – from reviewers who don’t lick their boots.
Misleading review scores are a problem, but it won’t be solved as long as gamers are complacent with the status quo.
Last modified: September 23, 2020 1:16 PM