How Trustworthy Are Game Reviews?

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Most people come to websites like Vita Player for several reasons. Many Vita fans are still desperate for a source of any news on upcoming releases for the console. Others look for a resource to find information on making the most of their handheld. But most importantly, owners of all ages are looking for one thing more than anything else. Game reviews.However, how can you be sure when you visit any website that those reviews can be trusted?

In My Opinion…

The one thing to remember about when it comes to reviews is that they are just an opinion. Ultimately they are meant to be someone’s views of what they think of a game, giving enough detail to allow you to make an informed decision. Is it from a genre that you usually enjoy playing? Does the story sound as if it would appeal to you? Usually there should be enough information present for you to make up your mind without spoiling any part of the game. And if scores are important to you, something on a meaningful scale to give you a realistic picture of how good it is.

Being Accountable

One thing we always feel is important is that our writers are held accountable for what they say. Every review is credited to the writer and they have sole control of the piece. That covers the words, overall judgement and the final score a game receives. This is important for us for several reasons. Firstly, it stops writers from being overly critical unfairly which is easy to do when you can hide your identity. Secondly, over time it allows our readers to build up trust with our team. You get to know our writers and what games we enjoy.

How is this important? For myself, people know I love arcade shoot-em-ups, pinball games and retro games. So when it comes to looking for these types of games for the PS Vita readers already know that my tastes in those games might be similar to theirs. Equally, Marcos is our resident fan of Japanese games so he is our “go-to” guy for them. Nameless reviews make it difficult for readers to identify with the author. Without that connection we feel that it’s harder to judge if you’re on the same wavelength as a reader to the person writing the review.

Honest Reviews

But how do you know that the review you are reading is unbiased? Since the early days of print based magazines, some questioned the validity of some reviews. In the days of the Commodore 64 and Spectrum there were those who believed that some games that were awarded higher scores than they deserved. It was argued that this was done in order to gain favour with publishers who were looking to advertise their games. This was never proved or substantiated but the reality was that many felt that it was just a case of “sour grapes” from rival publications and software publishers.

There has also been controversy of late surrounding online retailer Amazon. We all do it when we make purchases on there – we check the reviews and scores given to products by customers. Despite a clampdown in 2016, there are still companies attempting to flaunt Amazon’s ban of fake product reviews, by offering products in exchange for positive reviews. It brings the whole review process into a state of ill repute. As a consumer it makes it difficult to make informed choices. Infact, it leaves you wondering whether or not you should leave online shopping to products you have already decided to purchase.

Going Mobile

It’s not just online shopping that seems to be affected in this way. Mobile gaming seems to be afflicted by distorted reviews as well. Both the Apple and Google Play stores rank their apps by user ratings and both the score and number of ratings given help raise the profile of titles on the respective stores. The more reviews given, the better position apps receive during searches. Unfortunately, the scores for many apps have been manipulated.

In essence, some developers have arranged to have false reviews posted for their apps. There are large numbers of people out there who will either offer to review apps for a nominal fee or will exchange five star reviews. Usually reviews will consist of maximum ratings and generic one-liners but this is normally sufficient for the app stores the games are listed on. From the consumer point of view, it gives the impression that the app is better than it actually is. The publisher gets a higher ranking for their app for a relatively low outlay and unfortunately this is common practice.

How Reliable Are Online Reviews?

When you stop and think for a moment about both Amazon and mobile gaming, it starts to make you wonder just how confident you can be with online reviews. The truth of the matter is that these problems are not the norm. Many reputable companies that trade online make use of sites like Trustpilot to ensure that reviews are impartial. If you are not sure about video game reviews generally, scores are compared from major sites and magazines on the Metacritic website to give gamers a more accurate representation of reviewers opinions.

One thing we do have today though is plenty of choice and information at our fingertips. Whether you are looking for online casino reviews, video game reviews, or informed opinions on events and shows to attend, the chances are that there will be a review website out there for you. It does make modern life much easier and helps us all get the most out of our money and make more informed decisions.

What About The Freebies?

When it comes to sites like Vita Player, worries have been raised by some when it comes to review copies of video games. As with most gaming websites we do receive complimentary copies of some titles that we have reviewed. Not just for the PS Vita but titles we have also reviewed on other formats for the Infinite Frontiers website. This can put sites in a very difficult position. We certainly don’t want to damage our relationships with publishers in any way but our priority at all times has to be to our readers.

It has been the same when we have known developers personally, in some cases many years before they have turned to games development. We have to be honest about games and if necessary brutally honest when we don’t like a game. We try to be constructive in our criticism as we believe that no developer sets out to write a bad game. In all honesty we feel that almost every title has some merit so we spend time to try to get something out of even the most frustrating of games.

Some review websites have taken the stance that they will only review products that they have been sent by publishers. We don’t believe that this is the right approach. We’re a fan run site and as fans we don’t expect to get games for nothing. As with any other gamer, we buy games on a regular basis and see no reason why we shouldn’t review our own games. Doing this gives us a better feel for rating and scoring games. If we have paid for a game and give a critical opinion of it, we generally find that we take the same approach to all games equally.

An Easy Job?

It’s not as easy as you might think being a reviewer. Not only do we have to ensure that we remain impartial at all costs, but we have to remember that we have responsibilities. We have to be firm but fair to developers and offer constructive criticism where needed, but praise where deserved. Equally important is that we have a duty to our readers. You depend on us to let you know what is worth buying and what isn’t. Many of you depending on our views when it comes to making purchasing decisions and you put your money in our hands.

We value the faith that you have in us and your trust. We – and other sites like us – just hope that we can return that and give you all the information you need for years of happy gaming.

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