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.

Natalie
Member
Natalie

I’m gonna say that yes, you’re the only reviewer I trust, but maybe that’s because I’m pretty much done with other games media as a whole. And honestly it’s only that I value your opinions and insight, and I can get those without a formal review structure, so your Jimpression on a game is enough for me.

I’m thrilled that more of the video content will be migrating to the cozy homestead of the Jimquisition brand.

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

I would recommend Angry Joe, he is highly trustworthy and is not afraid to call major publishers out on their nonsense.

Kaye Faye
Member

I’m fine with this, tbh. The reviews were the least of what I came here for.

George
Member
Your logic is very sound. I hope there is a lot of new success with the new venture. It may actually prove to be better since then you can capture the interactivity in a bit more of a natural setting. It is a bit concerning that the “system is busted beyond saving” considering (as Laura has pointed out a long time ago) reviews also serve a consumer advocacy role, no other artistic media is this shit. I could never imagine a book publisher pulling the crap that EA and WB do. A suggestion though: this may need an announcement at… Read more »
Kirk Hammer
Member
Kirk Hammer

Count me among the disappointed, but not the angry – I liked your written reviews (and prefer written ones to video reviews in general) but if your heart’s not in it, then the reviews wouldn’t be as good as they could be. Plus if it stops you getting DDoS’d every time you give certain games less than perfect scores then so much the better.

BAH!
Member
BAH!
Honestly, I don’t watch much of Jimpressions, and I’ve only seen a couple of your “hot take” videos on various industry fuckups. I honestly don’t give your Youtube channel much attention, instead getting everything from this site. And the two things I looked forward to every week – the two things I wanted above all else – were a new Jimquisition and piece of written content. It didn’t particularly matter what kind, a Bullshit Roundup was as good as a Blatantly Better; but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love your reviews. No, they weren’t all gold- or,… Read more »
Dj_Ziio
Member
Dj_Ziio
You do you man, I’m just here for the ride. Though I always enjoyed reading your reviews, I never stopped at one critic to determine whether I want to invest in a game. With dozens upon dozens of game reviewers all over the web it will be nice to have a place to go to get content I can’t find anywhere else. Not having to deal with the Metacritic bs will probably bring you much less stress, though I still hope we get Meta-bombed articles when they are worth investigating. I really like the new content you brought us here… Read more »
High Evolutionary
Member
With the best of intentions and not wanting to sound demanding, I have one concern: I’ve always thought that video content wasn’t your passion, but a side thing, so with the exception of big shows (JQ, Commentocracy etc.) you didn’t seem like you could ever be bothered to put a great deal of effort into your smaller videos. For example, you’ve said many times that you can’t be fucked to set up console recording so you do the voice overlay thing, or you always abandoned any kind of long play that you did because you couldn’t be arsed (back in… Read more »
Lavender6ooms
Member

I have always loved your written content as much as your video content, so I am a little saddened by this news. It always hurts to learn that content that you enjoy is causing pain to the person making it. I’m glad that you’re doing what’s best for you creatively because ultimately that’s what’s best for us as fans too.
I will miss your reviews because they were so well written, which is often hard to find among game reviews. I didn’t always agree with you, but I was always able to see your point.

GloatingSwine
Member
GloatingSwine

I was over game reviews quite a long time ago.

You can get loads of information about games before they come out and if something obscure comes out and is worth looking at someone will talk about it on a podcast or something and that kind of conversation is generally more valuable than a review which is generally just a dry list of facts that were already in the previews.

As long as Jim tells me whether Fire Emblem Warriors is going to satisfy my needs to chop many many mans.

JackieGoOutside
Member
JackieGoOutside

This sounds good. I’m a fan of yours (and Laura’s) reviews as I respect your opinions, but it’s understandable that you’d like to get away from the more traditional types of game reviewing. I’m rather interested to see how this goes, and I hope it goes well for you.

8tavgp
Guest
8tavgp

Good riddance honestly, it looks like the Zelda stuff struck a nerve.

LegendaryFrog
Member
LegendaryFrog

If it means you fanboys will finally shut the hell up about it and leave Jim (and us) alone then I say all the better. Good riddance to you and your ilk.

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

stupid fanboy

Terry-Osaurusus Hex XI
Member

“there’s time to make a change
Just relax, take it easy
You’re still young, that’s your fault
There’s so much you have to know
Find a game, settle down
If you want you can review it,
Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy

I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy
To be calm when you’ve got something going on
But take your time, think a lot
Why, think of everything you’ve got
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.”

– Probably not exactly Jim’s words (2017)

*Dabs misty eye*

PhoenixShi
Member
PhoenixShi

So long as you don’t effectively chuck your core content (commentary on the industry, and the like), that likely most people come to your for, in favour of doing some other stuff, while constantly claiming you’ll be doing more of that core content, but don’t ever follow through with that for long, then that’s fine, do what you want.

Crissa Kentavr
Member
Also, paragraphs would be nice. I gotta say, you are one of the reviewers that I trust! Have you thought of reviewing reviewers? Like, I really like how Extra Credits reviews games, because what I’m interested in is different mechanics. I like how you review them because it’s like a longplay without the story. And I have found most streams essentially more boring than watching longplays! Most. Not yours. On Steam I can’t give a neutral or mediore review. I don’t like that. And so far I have yet to find a ‘curator’ review cover a game as deeply as… Read more »
gulpirak
Member
gulpirak

I’m surprised at how saddened I am by this. Even though I watch/listen to your content more than any other single video game website, I also feel differently about games you review all the time.

I’m not sure your reviews were normally even a factor in my purchasing decisions – I simply enjoyed reading/watching them.

I will mourn the loss, but I respect your decision, Jim.
Take care of yourself.

Apollo Justice
Member
This certainly saddens me. Not neccissarily because you are the only game reviewer I trust, or because I will miss the scores, but because your rewiews are always, so comprehensive and well written. I loved reading your rewiews when they were still in text and I like the review videos as well. The way you tend to decribe your personal experience with the game in a more introspective way is always delightful. Especially when you were reviewing smaller titles like ‘Her Story’, ‘Undertale’, ‘The Sexy Brutale’ or ‘Pony Island’ you always left me with a sense of discovery and true… Read more »
dr7sun
Member

Well I squarely fall under the category of “you were the only game reviewer I trusted.” I keep an eye on Laura’s work after she started popping up here on a regular basis, but that also means I ignore the majority of the content on Kotaku UK. Hopefully your new format can still give me a pretty good idea on if I should purchase something if I’m on the fence about it.

Terry-Osaurusus Hex XI
Member
I have believed for some while now that those game reviewing formats encouraging reviewers to play through speedily just to get the deadline hit as close to release as possible, is fairly unhealthy for those involved while becoming more detatched from how the majority of people experience games. This is where film and game reviews differ; with a film, each viewer is generally expected to invest the same amount of time as everybody else, often in the same environment too. But games are not 2-3 hour segregated experiences and a lot of people buy a game to pluck away at… Read more »
adamnoo
Member
adamnoo

Im a bit disappointed as Im in that camp of people that see you as one of the few I can trust for honest reviews that use a full range of scores. What got me hooked was the FF 13 review where you were one of the few to call it out for the big problems that it has on release. Based on what you’re describing it sounds like youd be looking at going a similar route to totalbiscuit with your jimpressions so I think that’ll be pretty cool

Gaz
Member
Gaz
Jim, I don’t know if you’ll see this, but im a big fan of yours who’s been a fan for years, see the thing is, im not actually old enough to have a real job yet, and I’ve always been inspired by you to do garmes journalizm (reviews, editorials that whole thing (and before anyone asks yes I spelt that wrong on purpose)), Writing and games are my two passions and the two things im really good at, and I question, should I get into reviewing? If not I’ll go into some other section of the industry, voice acting or… Read more »
Benj
Member
Benj

I’m sort of hoping that there aren’t trolls out there thinking “yes, we finally broke him!”

Steven White
Member

This will be interesting. I’ll miss the classic analysis but this also frees you from the bugbears the process ran into in the modern age. With the prevalence of patching, a hard review was scoring a snapshot of time that no longer exists. It wasn’t wrong, but there were times, I suspected you grated against your own rules.

drownedsummer
Member
drownedsummer

I do wonder if this might also be that point where Jim may starting hiring people to do other types of review content like he has with Laura. But I fully support what Jim is doing here and I’ve always enjoyed the Jimpressions content.

JackieGoOutside
Member
JackieGoOutside

If I’m honest, I’ve thought about whether Jim would hire people before. He seems like he would be a good boss.

drownedsummer
Member
drownedsummer

While he has suggested it a few times I was half expecting it to occur after the Brash Games debacle.

ObsidianWarPJs
Member

You gotta look after yourself and do what’s right for you. Just know that at least one reader loves your writing style and quite enjoys your mind. Thank god for you, Jim Fucking Sterling, Son.

Helmic
Member
Helmic
I don’t know how to feel here. I haven’t seen this sort of review and I don’t know if this is you wanting to avoid any commitment to what you say (being able to shake off any bad criticism as a result of not taking it very seriously) or if it’ll actually be used to criticize games in a new way that is actually useful to others. I suppose the only way to really know for certain is to see one of these new not-reviews and see what comes out of it. I have to admit I don’t really come… Read more »
machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

Very true, I especially got that feeling with his Mad Max review, most consumers really liked that game whereas critics gave it mixed reviews, for me that game was everything I wanted from an open world game, but I get why Jim was less then impressed with it. That was a game that absolutely would’ve benefited from a Jimpressions video.

drownedsummer
Member
drownedsummer

Even though most likely it would have just led to the same result?

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

But it would’ve come off better since it would not have had a score attached to it, I feel like a number of Jim’s reviews were undermined by the scores themselves(Homefront Revolution, Prey, Dying Light, Technomancer, Andromeda, etc)

drownedsummer
Member
drownedsummer

Not really it would still be Jim stating his dislike for said game just without a score. They weren’t undermined by the scores the score effectively summarises the viewpoint of the reviewer. Surely if the score undermines it that would apply to anything he reviewed and not just one where he considered it to be shite. None of them would have come off better they just wouldn’t have a score.

machine_dirty
Guest
machine_dirty

I disagree as do other people, i’m sure that was definitely one of the factors which made Jim stop doing reviews in the first place.

drownedsummer
Member
drownedsummer

Michael are you actually trying to suggest if Jim had done video footage of it his opinion of Homefront Revolution would be different? The point I’m making is those games would have got the same reception regardless of how Jim covered them.

drownedsummer
Member
drownedsummer

You disagree with what Michael? What I’m stating is it wouldn’t matter what format those games are reviewed in several such as Homefront would get the same response. Homefront has low to average review scores for a reason.

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