It’s an interesting thing to “work” (it’s hardly work- more of a hobby I suppose) in the video gaming industry. All of the things I had questions about five years ago- how people got free games, whether you ever get tired of free games (you do), whether people gouge review scores intentionally, and so on and so forth- have now been answered. And you know what the most striking thing that I’ve learned over the last four years is? How difficult it is to give a game a bad review score. You have no idea how much I struggle with it, or how much I’m willing to bet others struggle with it.
When you’re someone “on the outside”, you just sort of assume that if YOU were in a position to review games you would be brutally honest and never let anything sway your decisions into bias. But it’s not that simple. It’s really not.
I’m getting ahead of myself though, because what I really want to talk about are things I think a lot of gamers ponder: How honest are review scores? Do outlets ever fudge them to get favors from a publisher? Do publishers ever discriminate against certain outlets to avoid getting bad press? I don’t think I’ve seen anyone come out and just tell it as honestly as they can, so (hopefully!) I can do an okay job of just that.
What follows is some insight- as honest as I can put it- from my limited perspective (along with some helpful commentary from the other side, courtesy of our good friend Jools Watsham!), to hopefully answer some of those questions you’ve discussed on message boards or with friends, angrily coming to the conclusion that the reviewing system is biased and unreliable.
And guess what; it is! Sort of.