The Daily Grind: Why do you read and write MMO reviews?

Rock Paper Shotgun has an intriguiging pair of articles out this week on video game reviews. The first covered what game developers think about reviews on places like Steam; while some devs dismiss reviews as unrepresentative, many actually treat reviews quite seriously, as the most “raw unfiltered feedback” available.

The second, and even more interesting to me, is the one on why reviewers bother, specifically the ones who are offering detailed reviews for free on Steam. Why would you spend two hours typing your soul to total strangers, when you could be making money or playing the game? Those interviewed said they do it for their friends, to practice their own critical thinking, to entertain with jokes, to encourage other people to leave reviews, to “inform consumers about predatory tactics,” and to track their impressions “in the most extremely nerdy, excel-table kind of way.”

Do you write Steam reviews or reviews elsewhere? Why or why not?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Mewmew
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Mewmew

On Steam I normally only write up a review on a game that I really like and want to let other people know about it so they can get it as well. On Google Play I write good reviews as well, but I also write up far more bad reviews as I download a lot of stuff there that just is horrible or where the company is doing something very sneaky and cheesy. I also do my reviews there as real as possible which is a rare thing. Most game companies expect that if you like a game a little bit that you’ll give it a full 5*’s. And sadly that’s the way most people do their reviews there. They give it full 5*’s if they like it and 1* if they don’t. Most of my reviews fall somewhere in between.

On Steam I put more effort into writing up better thoughtful reviews. We have more space to write them and more control over formatting than on Mobile. It’s mostly if I’m impressed enough to want to help promote the game.

Sadly no matter how good and thoughtful you write up your review on Steam, if people disagree with your upvote (even if your reasons are very valid and they can see why *you* like it) they just downvote your review. There are these mass review bomb campaigns for certain games, especially free to play stuff, and they just don’t care how good or thoughtful your opinion is they’ll just downvote it for you giving the game a thumbs up.

Anyway we shouldn’t sit and think too much about other stuff we could be doing rather than writing reviews, otherwise some of us may stop writing them :D Though as far as playing games or writing reviews, they’re both sort of a waste of time so it doesn’t matter which we’re doing as long as we’re enjoying how we’re spending that time at the moment. A very well written thoughtful review can lead to a nice feeling of pride, especially if you help others to make up their minds about the game at the same time.

Honestly they could ask why we were here posting opinions and comments on blog articles as well :D

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NeoWolf

Because they often tell me the things Game site reviews and those who get free copy reviews (and are less likely to rock the boat or possibly of further free games by giving bad reviews) do not.

Noone should ever let a single review be the deciding factor on a game but rather weigh the pro’s and con’s of multiple reviews to get a bigger, fairer picture. But reviews are helpful for finding out things about a game that wouldn’t necessarily get spoken about otherwise, and would only be discovered AFTER you had bought the game.

As for why I write reviews, well I do not write many, only when something really moves me, excites me or I think has been given an unfair and misrepresentative review elsewhere.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

I rarely write a review on a steam however I do read a lot of them.

If I have the slightest interest in a game that steam is showing me on my discovery queue then I first look to see if all reviews are mostly negative and if they are move on. If they are positive then I may look at the game page and then read all the negative review and then some of the positive reviews. I have found often the negative review give a greater insight into the game, its mechanics, style etc.

Steam is mostly full of shovel ware these days so finding a quality game isn’t that easy.

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Paul

I pay very little attention to ‘user reviews’ in general – I often browse through them but give them very little to no weight in my decision making process. (example that gave me a good laugh at the time was some guy giving a top of the line i7 chip I was buying a negative review because ‘apparently you need a new PC to put this into’). I often like very unpopular stuff and vice versa – user reviews are mostly an indication of what’s popular.

I give varying degrees of weight to professional reviews – subjective things I tend to ignore as these are the opinions of the reviewer and mine often differ. Objective things (like benchmarks on PC hardware) I’ll pay most attention to.

Having said that, I do write the occasional review if I feel like it at the time :)

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Sorenthaz

Sometimes. Generally I’ll gloss over Steam reviews to see what the general perception is for games, but I don’t always agree with them. Reviews I only do here and there, usually for games I either thoroughly enjoy or want to add onto the criticism pile.

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Markus Tender

I do, but steam should change the playtime writing a review. Some people play half an hour and make a bad review.

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Sally Bowls

I usually don’t write anything, but a minute to write a couple of sentences is not a particularly more egregious waste of my life than usual.

I no longer read – or at least give credence to – many reviews. For crowd reviews, the review is dominated by which special interest group is most energized about DRM, pro/anti SJW, lockbboxes, EA, … Journalism, and gaming journalism in particular, survives only in a few pockets. (driveby salute & thanks to Bree and Team.) I have no interest in the time-consuming process of listening to a streaming personality tell me their opinion which, since I don’t value them, I don’t value.

So I am left with brands/companies to rely upon.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I do write Steam reviews. But not for every game I play. If it’s a small developer and there are few reviews or most one-line smarty pants reviews, and I really enjoy the game, I’ll write something with a little more depth to help out the devs and potential players. If my comments have been covered by others, I’ll skip writing one; I have nothing insightful to add.

I’ll write contra-reviews. If a game is being unfairly trashed for picky, inconsequential nose hair stuff, I’ll write a review.

On negative reviews, I’ll only write those for big games from big developers, like Civ VI. When a game has 25,000 reviews, mine isn’t going to be read except by maybe one or two people the day it’s posted, so it’s just a matter of being counted in the overall numbers.

I find writing a review helps me understand what it is about a game I like or don’t like and finding a way to express that. I’m not technically inclined, so it’s never about FPS or the like, it’s more about player convenience, inadequacies of a design, bars to having fun.

Do I read Steam reviews? Absolutely. I never buy a game without reading the reviews. I will also read the Discussions forums. While many poo-poo Steam reviews, some reviewers are quite knowledgeable and share that knowledge. I learn all kinds of tid-bits about the game from reading the reviews. Many reviewers are quite professional in their approach and grade each part of the game and give an overall rating.

I understand what my game likes are and also what I don’t care about and can readily dismiss those reviews that deal with issues that don’t interest me or would not stop me from having fun, while seeing how my own requirements are met. If a game has conflicting reviews on a certain point (Combat is Great! Combat Sucks!), I’ll move to the Discussion boards for more back and forth, discovering that sure, combat is great on a controller and sucks on a M/KB setup, making both perspectives true and giving me enough insight to make a decision whether to buy or not.

It wasn’t asked, but I also write game guides and post them on Steam.

Steam is far from perfect, and there are certain groups of people with agendas and axes that they throw at every game, but I find it a satisfactory platform and its fun being part of such a highly diverse and vocal community. Over the years, I’ve had many good conversations with other gamers through the discussion boards, review comments and my game guides.

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Leiloni

I read reviews when I’m looking for a new game, or just to take a break from the one I’ve been playing. It’s often helpful to read about others’ experiences and opinions to get a better picture of what the game’s really like before you commit to it. I find reading a bunch gives me a more accurate picture and it helps overall in choosing what to try.

I don’t really write reviews but I can understand why some do. It’s a mixture of passion for the game and passion for the industry, where you want to help others find a fun game to play, or maybe just to convince them to play yours. If you type fast and have a passion for the game, the thoughts come out pretty quickly and don’t take very long to put together.

Besides sometimes you’ve played enough for that day and can’t or don’t want to play more, so you’re not wasting time that you’d otherwise be spending gaming. And if you already have a full time job, spending your free time trying to make more money is the last thing you want to do. Trying to monetize gaming reviews for someone like that would take the fun out of gaming and turn it into work, which is what they’re trying to escape when they turn to games and gaming related online content.

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Roger Edwards

From time to time I will read a review on Steam. However, you have to search through a lot of material before you find anything that is of use. By that I mean, well considered, measured opinion that is qualified by sound reasoning. I also don’t expect Hemmingway, but it helps if the author has an acceptable grasp of the English language.

Personally, it has never crossed my mind to write a review on Steam. I have my own established website where I write and express my thoughts and opinions. If I’m going to write a review, then it’s logical to do so there and add to my existing body of work. Furthermore, it is more likely to be found and read there, rather than buried on Steam beneath another 200 plus comments.

For me the most important thing about any source of information, be it a website or a specific writer, is trust. I don’t agree with all the contributors here at Massively Overpowered, but I respect their integrity. So I’ll consider their perspective. When it comes to reviews, I usually read several from trusted sources and then see if there are any common themes that chime with my own likes and dislikes.

As for the wider question of why bother writing any sort of online content, that is a complicated subject. I won’t get into it here but let it suffice to say it’s seldom for the Benjamins.