Change to paid review policy at Game Tunnel

Discussion in 'Feedback Requests' started by cyrus_zuo, Jan 30, 2005.

  1. princec

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    Anthony, you should know by now that if more than a few people have an issue with the way things are worded there's probably a kernel of truth to the issue! If that's what we perceive - then that's what we perceive, and it's perceptions that count.

    Cas :)
     
  2. Fry Crayola

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    But in this instance the perception isn't worth anything because it doesn't change how things are done.

    If GT say "You pay for the review, and get listed and advertised for free", that's exactly the same as "You pay to get listed and advertised, and the review is for free".

    In the end, you're paying for the exact same stuff.
     
  3. Anthony Flack

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    And, crucially, your perception should hopefully be influenced by this conversation. Like I say, you know Russel, he's right here and you've been talking to him, so you should know how things stand.
     
  4. mkovacic

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    So can I get the ads without the review, then? If not, then it's not just the wording that's different.

    Now, I'm actually fine with paying for an objective review, even if it turns out very non-flattering, but I think that if I'm actually paying for the thing, it would not be completely unreasonable that I can ask for it not to be published if I don't want to. I'd still have to pay for it, ofcourse, published or not.
     
  5. Hamumu

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    I agree with that. I would pay the money for an honest detailed critique by someone qualified to provide good insight - it's a bonus that, assuming it's not a roasting, I can also get publicity from it. I wouldn't want to pay money to have someone just cheer me on. If that's what you're paying for, save your money for ads - they get displayed more prominently and you get to control the content!
     
  6. adhominem

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    I don't like the idea of paying for reviews very much at all. I spent several years writing reviews for Computer Gaming World, and I can say with certainty that there, at least, there was an extremely solid line between editorial and advertising departments. I never once was pressured to give a positive review to a high-profile game, and more than once saw the editors incur the wrath of large publishers by trashing their multi-zillion dollar title.

    Did the publishers occasionally threaten to pull their ads? Yes. Did the magazine run lots of glowing "previews" of games that they would later thrash in the actual review? Yes. But they did maintain a standard of journalistic integrity, in that the reviews were not influenced by money from the publisher. A super-high profile game would probably get more space in the magazine, simply because everyone wanted to know about it, but again, having written some very negative reviews of high-profile titles for CGW, I can vouch for the fact that the editors did not cave in to any pressure from publishers.

    I realize that Game Tunnel has to make ends meet, but I am with the others here who suggest decoupling the advertising and reviewing departments completely. Even in this case you are still open to charges that people are paying to get good reviews... but when people are actually literally, explicitly paying for reviews, it is absolutely not going to look good whenever you run into your first inevitable scandal.
     
  7. Fry Crayola

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    That's quite a sensible approach. However in order to really maintain the good image of the site, GT would have to review a fair few games that are below par and publish them. These would naturally be from the unpaid selection. There's a bit of extra cost involved then that GT need to cover.

    After all, pick up any "official" console magazine and there comes a point when you get sick of the fanboyish rantings of contained therein. If every developer could pull a bad review, GT would consist of little but praise. Deserved praise no doubt if you took the time, but to the casual observer there's no objectivity involved. "Everything's great!" would appear to be the cry, and GT's reputation would diminish.

    It'll be tough to get right. A $10 charge to pull a review if you think it's damaging to your repuatation? Perhaps worth it?
     
  8. Teeth

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    By enabling people to pay to have their bad reviews removed, you would be harming the readers who are as a result more likely to download the bad games, and you're giving more incentive to those developers who are holding more cash to develop bad games.
     
    #48 Teeth, Jan 31, 2005
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2005
  9. EpicBoy

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    You don't want to turn trashing games into a revenue stream.
     
  10. Fry Crayola

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    Why would they be harmed? At first, they're only going to download a game if they're interested in the concept, and secondly they're going to try the demo, see it's poor and move on.

    The developer gets nothing.
     
  11. Fry Crayola

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    Can we not trust GT on this issue though? I mean, it's not going to do them any favours to actually review a game poorly just so it gets pulled and they can take ten bucks. Readers will become disillusioned with poor reviews for quality titles and that can be every bit as damaging as good reviews for poor titles.

    Not to mention a poor and innaccurate review is a surefire way of freezing out a relationship with a developer, completely cutting off a more lucrative revenue stream that future reviews and affiliate schemes can bring.

    Edit: on a side note, I'm the kind of person who likes to put faith in his own games. If I get a bad review I get a bad review, I'll just take that on board and work toward bettering myself.

    I just agree with mkovacic that if the developer is paying for the review straight up, he can have the right to request it to be removed. He may even use the criticism the review brings to update the game, if possible, and get a future review.
     
    #51 Fry Crayola, Jan 31, 2005
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2005
  12. Hamumu

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    I don't see the ethical problem with charging for a review as long as the charge is FIXED. If everybody pays the same to get a review (well, there are different prices here, but they're for specific reasons, not payola), can't pay more arbitrarily, can't send in bribes and treats, then how is it different from a free review? Since EVERYBODY getting reviewed pays the same, either everybody is getting a glowing review, or everybody's treated fair. And I think we know it won't be 100% glowing.
     
  13. Coyote

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    Okay - reduced pricing I'm keen on.

    The fundamental issue here is actually no different from how traditional magazines are run. They operate on advertising revenue - and online sites have an option to earn money through affiliate sales as well.

    The truth is, while game reviews are theoretically separated from the marketing department that sells ad space --- the truth of the matter is that if one publisher gets repeatedly thrashed by a particular publication, they are going to withdraw their sponsorship. While a reviewer may be given theoretical carte blanche to voice exercise their own editorial opinion, they will not find the 'choice' reviews coming their way if they repeatedly bite the hands that feeds them somewhere along the upline.

    The pressure is always going to be there, even if insulated.

    One option that COULD be exercised would be a "will review for content" option where a developer that provides a quality review could be offered a free review of their own product. But that could open up a whole new can o' worms... do you really want YOUR product reviewed by someone who is working on a competing product? Yeah, 9 times out of 10 it wouldn't be a problem, but the 1 in 10 risk is an issue.

    I don't see an easy solution.
     
  14. Rainer Deyke

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    Personally I don't think Game Tunnel should ever refrain from posting a negative review, paid or otherwise. Having only positive reviews on the site reduces the value of all reviews.
     
  15. GBGames

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    When I first signed up to do reviews for Game Tunnel, I asked if I was going to be expected to avoid negative comments or if I could be brutally honest if I need to be. I was told that I could be honest.

    So if I get a game, and I don't think much of it at first, I give it a chance because I like to give things the benefit of the doubt. Orbz was a game I would never have tried if I was just browsing games on my own, but I've played it and now I know how much fun it can be. On the other hand, Dope Farmer wasn't one I got into much. I gave it a 7 overall because it was actually fun, but I wasn't pleased with how limited the gameplay was. I was able to say so in the review without worrying about the negativity being edited out. I haven't played a game yet that was so horrible that I couldn't find anything good in it, which is a good thing.

    And with the changes to the pay structure, Russ hasn't informed me about needing to be more positive or anything like that. I don't think that bad reviews should be removed at the whim of the developer. The point of a review is to inform people about a product before they put down their money. If you plan on making iterative fixes to your product, wait until you have the finished product before submitting it for a review.

    When I was reviewing QBasic games on my own site, I had this one guy resubmit his game over three times because he kept adding to it. After the third time, I informed him that I couldn't just keep updating the review each time he did something new. I had other games to check out. I'm sure this applies to Game Tunnel as well.

    Regarding perception: he has always charged for reviews, providing advertising and the like along with it. I haven't heard anyone complain about the perception then, so I don't think it will be a problem now.
     
  16. luggage

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    I think the issue for me, as a developer, is the fact we could be handing over money for something which has a negative impact on our business. Some cases poor reviews might be justified but there could be other cases where they're not. Remember the Half Life 2 thread not so long ago? Imagine paying $70 for having that written about your game.

    We all debated about whether the review was justified or not but it was there in black and white for people to read. This could be quite damaging for an Indie.

    I'm sure GT's reviews wouldn't be that controversial - but maybe the writer had an argument the morning before writing the review, or he's pushed for time to get it done, or he's not that keen on the genre, or his PC's playing up a little that day, or any other number of reasons he might not give your game a totally fair review. These things wouldn't normally bother me, as anything that's reviewed can suffer a similar fate, but paying money throws a different light on to it.
     
  17. GBGames

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    I think I remember a popular pinball game getting a bad review on Game Tunnel, apparently making it unique among game review sites since everyone else liked it. So yeah, you're right. Paying for a bad review isn't in your best interests. But making a good game is, and that's what you can do something about, right?

    Half-Life 2 is supposed to be a great game, but Steam ruined the experience for a lot of people. Since it was required to even get to the point where you could play the single player game, I think it is fair to mark the game down for that. And I'm glad that they do have reviews about it because it shows I am not a unique case and that Valve's treatment of me wasn't an anomaly.
     
  18. Fry Crayola

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    You're right about re-submitting games for review just to get it "perfect".

    However, I was thinking more about the situations that can arise where you've invested so much in a game that you become oblivious to a few issues because you're able to see past them, and so are your testers.

    So when the review comes out and it's marked down for being far too hard, or being overly complex, it's an ideal situation to tweak it and get GT to add a little snippet in their news section rather than a full review.

    I'd perhaps only go for a full second review if there was major changes, because then it's a different game anyhow.
     
  19. GBGames

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    When I review games, I try to make sure I don't miss out on something fundamental. I've played some games where the first couple of levels are boring, but then I find out there is a move I could do that makes it a lot more fun.

    An example recently: Super Smash Bros Melee. There is a single-player event where you play as C. Falcon and need to the end in only a little bit of time. When I first played it, I was still getting used to the controls, and I had a difficult time making it from one platform to the next and avoiding the race cars that come by (if you hit them, you lose). Then I got better at the game playing against friends, and months later I returned to that event to find that I was playing the level incorrectly before. I had to run, not walk! I can skip platforms completely to get to the third or fourth one down. A misunderstanding so fundamental like that made the level frustrating, but once I discovered it, it made the game so much more enjoyable.

    Dark Archon and The Last Sorceror are two games where I didn't quite get it at first but grew to like them. Dark Archon especially so because when I first played it I thought it was impossible. The ships moved incredibly fast and there was no way I was going to be able to fight back, much less defend myself. Then I realized that I was able to do so much more (see, this is why instructions are important) and all of a sudden I saw how fun the game was.

    I can't speak for other reviewers, but I definitely make sure that I try to discover every nuance of the game I am reviewing. One Must Fall: Battlegrounds has the awesome control and combo systems, Flatspace has some cool vehicles and weapons, and Radioactive had interesting AI. Unless I explored the games, I probably would have dismissed them as difficult or boring. It's only fair to the developer and appropriate to the gamers to try to cover as much as you can to make an informed review.
     
  20. luggage

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    But your Super Smash Bros Melee example may have gone un-noticed. What if you hadn't gone back to it and you left the game frustrated? Then imagine that happened with one of your games, resulting in a poor review and you even had to pay for the privilege.
     

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