Changing Criticism, Or Fuck Game Reviews

So let’s just cut to the chase – I’m over game reviews.

I continued writing game reviews after I declared Jimdependence because of my passion for traditional games criticism. They were not the real draw for the Jimquisition’s Patreon, but nonetheless I added them in as a means to continue doing something I loved on the side. Trouble is, I kind of don’t love them anymore.

There are a number of factors for this. The main one is that, honestly, the amount of time a game review takes is time better spent on new original work like the freshly launched Commentocracy and upcoming Loose Boys. My passion is in creating original video work, that’s become evident as we’ve begun to put our efforts there.

I had hoped video reviews would mitigate the feeling of burnout I have with traditional games criticism, but honestly that hasn’t helped.

The same old arguments about “objective” reviews, the usual hassle and pressure accompanying scoring systems (which I’ve always defended, but I’m so tired of doing it), not to mention the fact that publishers have pretty much ensured game reviews en masse are tightly controlled (they’re terrified of the “wild cards” after all) means I’d much rather tackle games criticism in a way that keeps me happy and invested in my work.

This doesn’t mean I’m chucking in games criticism, I’m just doing it differently. Here’s the deal.

Jimpressions, formerly part of my ad-supported content, will become officially part of the Jimquisition brand, which it should’ve been anyway with a name like that. Jimpressions will be me talking over footage of games that I’ve captured, focusing on aspects of the game I specifically want to talk about without the same old tired structure of a review format.

The previous Jimpression videos had started to split into two types of very different show – the type I just described, and sillier videos played in real-time and often edited for comic effect, typically playing random nonsense found on Steam. I’m going to make the two things their own separate series from now on.

This ultimately means more content for Jimquisition fans, and allows me the added benefit of getting criticism out there quickly without having to rush through games to beat them – often a problem for game reviewers. This new approach allows me to have my cake and fuck it too – I can give you instant critique of games at or near launch, with more nuanced criticisms after I’ve played more fully.

For example, I plan to put up a Shadow of War Jimpressions soon, but that’s not to say it’s the only Shadow of War Jimpressions video coming. As I play more, get to grips with the Nemesis system, and tackle the Domination aspects of the game, I can give you a second Jimpressions with updated thoughts in real-time.

This is an approach I tried with Dark Souls III last year, producing Jimpressions videos with early gameplay, followed by a video looking at later content and another specifically showcasing multiplayer aspects.

I’d told a few people about this plan, and one concern was that I was the “only reviewer [they] trusted.” I see that phrase come up a lot, not just concerning me, and I have to wonder what the point of game reviews are if people only trust one or two people in the whole industry. Seeing as every major “AAA” release is expected to get 8s, 9s, and 10s regardless of actual quality, I think it’s safe to say the system is busted beyond saving now.

While I certainly wanted and hoped for that cycle of “AAA” reviews to change, it was never going to. I’ll confess I’m jaded by that entire part of the industry.

I can give you criticism and thoughts on games without being part of that increasingly obsolete world. And I’ll admit, I relish the thought of taking more time with games. I used to enjoy the idea of getting through them under pressure, but I’ve long since grown out of that.

I’m expecting some disappointment, hopefully not too much anger, but ultimately I think this is a good move. It’s a good move for my mental health, giving me less stress and more time to focus on the parts of the business I think people are really paying for. It’s good for you, as it gives you more ad-free content and what I believe is a more useful format for games criticism.

And it’ll be good for the poor precious Nintendo fans who don’t want to see another Zelda get less than a perfect fucking 10.

Not that I’ll be letting Nintendo off the hook in any other fucking way.

My other SNES Classic is a Raspberry Pi, after all.

Some Idiot
Member
Some Idiot
As someone who started writing reviews for a small site last year, that line about the lack of trust hurts. I don’t know how well the more prominent sites are paying their writers, but everyone who writes for the site I do also works full time at another job. Review codes don’t matter much to us since we can (and often do) buy our own copies. We might not be the most eloquent bunch out there, but we are honest. I personally strive to be as thorough as possible to ensure that readers know exactly what they are in for… Read more »
tobascodagama
Member

I’m behind this whole-heartedly. I think ditching formal “reviews” for Jimpressions videos (especially if certain especially meaty games earn multiple ones) is absolutely the right move to make. Can’t wait to see more of these!

Seth Leach
Member

I’ll miss the reviews. I’m a bit sad especially since your video reviews were outstanding and I was looking forward to them. However, your new material is fantastic and I’m happy to hear it’ll be focused more. Here’s to more awesome work by he who we thank god for!

Alex Wheatley
Member

Reviews were always the least important part of the Jimquisition to me – partly because I don’t buy very many games.
If this move leads to more effort going towards things which remind me of Podtoid, then count me and my chungus in 100%. I’ll be ready with the mesh tank top whenever it’s called for.

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

I buy plenty of games, but I rarely if ever used Jim’s reviews to determine what games I bought since me and him have different tastes in a number of areas(i’m a huge fan of open-world games).

The Worst Elephant
Member
The Worst Elephant

I am sorry to hear that. It’s good to be in a position where you don’t have to do things that you’re burned out with, of course, but for me, your written reviews were the main draw of your Patreon, and hearing you declare that good written content is “obsolete” is frankly pretty disheartening.

markdavaus
Member
It’s a shame and the cliched ‘end of an era’ moment as I have been following your reviews since Destructoid (and Podtoid, oh Podtoid <3), however I also believe strongly in doing what you love. If your heart isn't in traditional reviews anymore, then naturally why should you keep doing them if you'd rather be elsewhere? Jim you're a great man and very lucky to be able to focus on making unique fun new video content, while that content isn't really for me anymore, I will be sure to give your new style a fair try, I am sure it'll… Read more »
Arthur van der Burgh
Member
Arthur van der Burgh
I’m okay with this. Like I said on the SubReddit: This article only made me realize I’m here for Jim and his persona and likes, more than his reviews. If he’s intent on doing the things he loves most, this only means I’m getting more Jim, pure and un-cut. It’s a win-win situation. Eurogamer dropped their review scores a few years back and that continues to be my main haunt too. Reviews are only useful when you know how a reviewer’s tastes reflect upon your own, but I’m not sure I need a number to go with that. The past… Read more »
NewHolesForPhil
Member
NewHolesForPhil

I can’t say I’m not sorry to see the reviews go, but Jim Sterling content without passion isn’t proper Jim Sterling content. Keep on doing what you love, Jim.

Sleepy Will
Member
Sleepy Will
Add one to your list of names of people who trust you, and find it difficult to trust others – I don’t always agree with you, but you explain yourself so bloody well, that I understand how I will find the game, no matter how you found it – and that, I believe is one of the skills that got buired by most “personalities” as they grew bigger, and that you didn’t lose this gives me even more respect for your work. I’m not to fussed about the changes, no matter the way you present the criticism – I will… Read more »
Allan Weallans
Member
I’m 100% behind this move. I’ve never been a fan of “reviews” for games. I feel like – and this is no criticism of you, but of the format in general – they’ve never quite known where to sit between arts reviews and consumer product reviews. If you know what you want to say, it doesn’t really make sense to try to bend that to fit into the service of such an ill-defined format. After the Hellblade thing (I was going to be cute and pretend that never happened, but I think that would undermine the point), I can especially… Read more »
MuddyScarecrow
Member

I would not at all be surprised if the Hellblade thing was a big deciding factor for this move. People got so unnecessarily high and mighty over it. “Oh he’s so clearly unprofessional we will never take him seriously as a reviewer again even though from our smug attitudes you can clearly tell we never did.” I have no idea when “professionalism” became such a lauded quality that any lack of it is seen as a deal breaker. The man fucks pogs and wears a trash bag full of Cornflakes. WHEN DID HE EVER COME ACROSS AS PROFESSIONAL TO YOU?!

Anton
Member
Anton

Hey, you can make good money pogfuckin’ on webcam. Sounds like you have too uptight of a view of what a “professional” is.

MuddyScarecrow
Member

XD I think that’s the issue here. It’s a word they throw around without really clarifying exactly what the requirements for professionalism are to them.

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

The creators actually thanked him for it as the review got their game more attention then it otherwise would have. I think it’s more Jim is realizing that scores are becoming more and more useless thanks to the fact that games now evolve over time with patches and updates, so any score you give a game at launch will more then likely become outdated and useless once patches and updates come to address criticisms(or make the game worse).

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

That’s partially why I got into TotalBiscuit in the first place, because he went out of his way not to do traditional reviews and instead did first impressions videos, it really shook things up and its why I still continue to watch his content to this day, i’m looking forward to Jim’s take on that.

LegendaryFrog
Member
LegendaryFrog
I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed. This is, in no possible way, a deal breaker for me on everything Sterling, but I did appreciate the more ‘honest’ review scores. Giving games a 7/10 should not be considered bad and Jim moving passed this method of reviews makes me think the game journalism industry is a just a little bit worse off. Wild cards should become stronger and more prominent, not fewer and quieter. Now we have one fewer voice making a case for more honest reviews and the producer controlled outlets are able to run just a little… Read more »
Steve Neeley
Member

I couldn’t care less about structured reviews with scores. I support your Patreon to get what you think about games and things going on in the industry. This new format of you talking over footage of you playing games is actually more valuable to me than a structured review. Keep up the good work, Jim.

Shaded Spriter
Member

I hope you come up with another show name to split up the two kinds of Jimpressions – I would like to know if it is going to be one or the other going into a video beforehand.

Jimnalysis maybe?

MuddyScarecrow
Member

Ah, the “objective” review. Also known as “a review that justifies my own opinions and nobody else’s.” Because basically whenever some fanboy cultist screeches at a reviewer to review a game on its own merits what they’re really saying is “ignore all its problems and love it blindly like the sheep I am *REEEEEEEEEEE*”

Anton
Member
Anton

“You gave that other game a higher score, and this one is CLEARLY better, so the score on this game is wrong!” – same fanboys. Also me, half a decade ago.

MuddyScarecrow
Member

“He gave this game a nine when the game I’m currently licking the balls of only got seven?! ALSO KNOWN AS THE WORST SCORE EVER?! Well he is clearly trying to destroy the developers by writing a review that will ultimately have no impact whatsoever because literally every other developer gave the game I’m snowballing a 10 or higher. Obvious shill is obvious.”

Anton
Member
Anton

“Why does this reviewer hate video games? REAL gamers would know what a MASTERPIECE 10/10 this is.”

MuddyScarecrow
Member

“It is absolutely impossible! InconCEIVABLE that somebody could have a differing opinion! NAY! This game is so godly flawless that the only explanation for such an abysmal score is that they WANT this game to fail! ROYSTON! ROYSTON! SOMEBODY HAS A DIFFERING OPINION THAN I! HOO HOO HOO HOO HOO HOO HOO!!!”

commanderkyubey
Member
I will always love your reviews, but if you aren’t enjoying them, you do what you have to! I’ve been a fan of yours since your “Why Ekans is the best Pokemon” piece and I’ve never looked back. I’ve noticed that a lot of personalities that have lasted in this industry (like Greg Miller) have also moved away from traditional reviews as well in favor of just giving their impressions over time and I feel like it works well enough. I hope you still can just poop out a review every once in a while when you feel like it… Read more »
AntarcticOasis
Member
AntarcticOasis

So 2017 really is the year of change, huh?! I’ll miss Jim’s reviews, and I thought the video format worked well. I do, however, understand the frustration of working within a system that doesn’t work and I guess that’s how Jim must feel.

With so many things changing it’s hard as a viewer, and as someone who struggles with change, to not be overwhelmed. Without a doubt, though, I look forward to all the great new things to come.

As a side note, I like the sillier Jimpressions videos (particularly the horror ones) so I’m glad they’re staying.

Klarden
Member
Your reviews always motivated me to try and get better in structuring mine, but it’s been many years since you or many other good written review sites clearly had desire to continue doing them in a classic format, and for very good reasons, so I totally understand that. I was just thinking yesterday, how the overall approach to how we approach reviews and critique and content of this sort on games (and other forms of media) changed so much by now that old systems just don’t seem appealing anymore. And I’ve personally just switched to writing mostly shorter reviews to… Read more »
Anton
Member
Anton
Do what you gotta do, man! I personally think it’s a good direction that will draw focus to your actual thoughts and comments, rather than score fixation. Unlike you, I’ve never really been a fan of the traditional score system. In my younger years, I’ve been known to petulantly argue about what score a game SHOULD have gotten, according to my objectively true opinion, when I should have been focusing more on the body of the work. It was dumb, and I still cringe when I think back to it. Games discussion got a lot more interesting and a lot… Read more »
Weasel Biggs
Member

I’ll admit that I’ll miss your reviews. I didn’t really care about numerical ratings, but your written assessments of the games you reviewed were still fairly informative. That said, I completely understand that writing under pressure and without motivation sucks. Late nights working on a master’s thesis kinda taught me that. 😀

Whatever format it is you choose to use, I’ll gladly enjoy.

Austin Barnes
Member

Jimdependence means doing as you must to make the content you feel reflects your voice most accurately without then need to conform to others standards of how it should be or look. But thank you for telling us.
Keep it up, Jim! You are doing a bang up job!

TnTyson
Member
TnTyson

People think reviews are just a fucking number, so why not just leave a number generator on the front page for them.
You want a number for a game? Press the fucking button. Not happy with the number your game got? Press it again.

Seriously though this sounds much more in keeping with the way you do the whole “garme jurnalizum” anyway.

Whatever you do I’ll keep faith in Jim fucking Sterling son.

Thank God for you!

Scott C Stewart
Member

yhea what sarklor said.

voteDC
Member

Will other contributors to the site still be posting traditional reviews or are they gone altogether.

Amy
Member

I’m sad to not see the reviews, but I don’t want it at the expense of someone’s personal health. I’m always happy just to see some content to watch, and I mainly come for the jimquisition anyway. To steal your words Jim ‘You do You’, but I do recommend eating your cake and not having sex with it.

Interested to see this new Jimpressions format.

Sarklor
Member

I’d be lying if I said I won’t miss your traditional game reviews a bit. But more “untraditional” stuff is exciting. Keep doing your weird Jim thing, it’s working.

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