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8th July 2021

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"Game reviewers are lazy," says AIAS president

Former Eidos exec slams journalists for not providing true critical analysis

The president of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences has said that he believes games journalist are lazy when it comes to reviewing games.

Joseph Olin, a former Eidos executive, said that reviewers don't spend enough time playing games, and that there are "a lot of game critics, but very little critical analysis".

"My pet peeve is that game reviewers are lazy," he told Shacknews.

"Not all, but in terms of the reviews [something like] 'This game isn't as good because let's compare it to that game over there and that game was great.' Who gives a, you know, bleep?"

"How can you review a game, how can you give a comment about a game like Grand Theft Auto IV, that has 40-plus hours or more of gameplay, if you've only spent 2 and a half to 3 hours playing it?"

"It would be like reviewing a movie but only seeing the opening, first reel. I don't think that's fair, or is it accurate," he said.

Olin has been at the AIAS since 2004, and previously worked at Tomb Raider publisher Eidos as vice president of marketing.

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences counts multiple leading publishers and developers on its board of directors including Epic Games, Ubisoft, Microsoft, EA and Nintendo.

Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry

8th July 2021

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Latest comments (9)

Alexander Cederholm Editor-in-Chief, GAMEcore.se12 years ago
Let me ask you this. What do publishers prefer? A fast and mabey sloppy review BUT it comes out before or the day the games has it's release? OR do they prefer att review that's precise BUT comes out a while later? That one is an hard balancing act for many reviewers.
Me and my editor staff don't rush things out for example. We want to be honest BUT that also means we rarely can get the chance to say "FIRST!". Do we care? Not really but many do and that IS a big problem.
But yeah, I get quite sad when I hear that GTA get's a playthrough of 10 hours before review time. Everyone sooo obsessed about being first.
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Alexander Cederholm Editor-in-Chief, GAMEcore.se12 years ago
I belive we work for our audience (the readers). As I said do we personally let time to play and quality go before insane deadlines.I really never had any big problems with publishers that think we to slow so I personally have not reallt have big problems with this but ... you know... you hear stuff.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.12 years ago
I've never reviewed an unfinished game (except Tetris but I can hardly be reprimanded for that one). That would just feel weird.

However I have known plenty of our ilk that peruse through a stage or two and then it's off to the computer to bang out 3-4 paragraphs and call it a day.
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Caspar Field Consultant, Talk Management12 years ago
"How can you review a game, how can you give a comment about a game like Grand Theft Auto IV, that has 40-plus hours or more of gameplay, if you've only spent 2 and a half to 3 hours playing it?"

When I was a writer this happened all the time. It's not a big deal. To be honest, you can usually tell a game's score within the first five minutes - sometimes within the first five seconds - of play. And I believe the same applies to movies: most films I watch, I know to what degree I'm going to like it within five minutes of viewing. Same with albums, same with art, same with driving a car. Call it intuition, call it taste, call it sixth sense... Whatever - it's a fundamental aspect of critical skill. Mr. Olin perhaps lacks this ability, which is why he doesn't seem able to recognise it.

GTA IV was an eight out of ten, by the way :)
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.12 years ago
What would you have score the movie The Usual Suspects if you'd only seen the first 20 minutes of it? Now score it again after watching the whole movie.

The reverse can also hold true. Some games can be fun for that first hour or two (which you'd give it score x) yet drag on, become boring, or just start to suck and suddenly that x you gave it is too high.

2-3 hours doesn't give a change for both single player and multiplayer or any other modes and features than can increase the games value and overall enjoyment.

5 minutes is suggesting your intuition is better than the efforts the game developers put into the game and shorting your readers on thoroughness.

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Ben Jones Editor, Games Xtreme12 years ago
I'm with Alexander on this one. Publishers want reviews fast and they want them as soon as possible after the game release date or just before. Yes, we have had the first review for a few games but we never rushed them. I feel reviewers should take their time and choose when they are ready to hand in a review.

Being first to me means nothing, we've never had any issues with publishers either. There are more than enough sites who want exclusives and first reviews of a game but just because they reviewed it first doesn't make them right.
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Ben Jones Editor, Games Xtreme12 years ago
Exactly Andreas, reviews are done for the gamers and that's how we see it. Its the reviewers job to tell them if we think a game is good or bad and based on our review they decide whether they will buy it or not. I hope we do a pretty good job of that.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.12 years ago
Writing a review with the publisher in mind is nothing more than score-leading (yes, I just made that up).

It's more important to write a review for your readers benefit than simply to appease the publisher.


If a publisher removes you from their product review list for lack of having reviews out on day one of release then it's their loss. You owe far more to your readers than to any publisher.
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Caspar Field Consultant, Talk Management12 years ago
'5 minutes is suggesting your intuition is better than the efforts the game developers put into the game and shorting your readers on thoroughness.'

Reaching an opinion in five minutes is leveraging your experience as a reviewer - intuition doesn't have much of a look in.

The thing developers need to recognise is that the vast majority of players never reach the end of games. If you've not done all you need to do to convince your audience that your game is a 9-out-of-10 within the first hour, you're not doing your job, simple as that.

There's no point having some 'amazing twist' (or gameplay feature) at hour 20, because about 75% of players will never, ever see it. It's not a 90-minute movie experience, unlike the Usual Suspects. Equally, I can play WOW for a couple of hours and can imagine the quality of what I might experience at hour 200 (and also some of the boredom).

Check out the completion stats for Valve's games if you want a sobering read: http://www.steampowered.com/status/ep1/ - under 40% of players finished Episode One, even though it took them, on average, just four hours.
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