Game reviews

There’s an article on gamedrool about GamePro’s Portal Runner review back in 2001, and Trip Hawkins’ response to it. It’s quite entertaining.
Trip raises a few interesting points in his letter to GamePro’s publisher, but mostly comes off as an angry man. Granted, the review was short and scathing. But a letter like this is not going to help any situation. However, the idea that reviewers should know a game’s target audience before reviewing it really is a no-brainer, and if GamePro didn’t take this into consideration it was a terrible flaw. I totally get the image Trip paints of a reviewer as an angry man, but not because they’re some kind of antisocial mitfit – rather, after playing hundreds of crap games, you become able to recognize crap games pretty quickly, and the venom can come spilling out your fingertips before you realize it.
It’s an interesting glimpse into Trip’s mind when he suggests that the customers of game media are the advertisers, not the readers. Certainly, that’s where the money mostly comes from, but the reason the audience for a magazine exists is because of the integrity of the staff producing it. If the reader could not trust that a reviewer had an unbiased opinion when reviewing a title, why would that reader bother reading the review?
When I was at Game Developer magazine, there was a similar difference in perspective, between the edit staff and sales staff. It can be quite challenging to give a product a crappy review if the product comes from a company which advertises heavily in your magazine. But ultimately, it’s exactly what HAS to be done. For to do anything else would be to undermine the credibility of the entire publication. Hopefully, that’s what GamePro told Trip.
It’s amusing to see that Trip’s lashing out at the editors of GamePro is not so dissimilar from the way the reviewer lashed out at the crappiness of Portal Runner. Perhaps they both should have taken a deep breath and counted to ten, then considered possible other perspectives, before putting hand to keyboard.






2 responses to “Game reviews”

  1. Kim Pallister Avatar

    Both are customers, but the mistake Trip made was thinking “I am a customer, and you deliver me good reviews”.
    The mag should be saying: “I deliver unbiased, quality reviews to my readers” and aim to grow readership that way.
    Then to Trip & co, the mag should be saying “I deliver readers to whom you can advertise.”
    Quality mags keep the sales & editorial staff very quarantined from one another. ZD used to be like this back in PC Mag’s hey-day. Not sure they aren’t now, I just don’t deal with them anymore.
    However, I can easily see how, once a mag is not a leader anymore, and things get competitive, and money gets tight, it is VERY seductive to “pass notes” over the firewall between the two sides.

  2. Dave Avatar

    As a public relations guy I have to say what he did is just stupid. First of all no one in our line of work thinks the reporters work for anyone except their publication. Their job is to produce solid news not based on advertisers or even in some cases their owners. What’s worse is to call someone on this. To make an enemy of the reporter is far worse. It shows that he thinks there is no such thing as bad publicity, great saying but far from the truth. Just ask anyone running for office about that one. Trip has a new guy at Digital Choc. running his PR, I pray for his sake he didn’t know about this. Just stupid.
    BTW: The press often does not consider a games audience, that’s why we explain it. If they still don’t you take your lumps and don’t submit those types of games to that outlet again.