The Jimquisition: On Publishers Controlling Game Reviews

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As Bethesda proudly announces it will no longer provide review copies until the day before a game launches, The Jimquisition decides to deliver some hefty side-eyeing.

This news came just as your very own Jim Sterling found out EA considers him a “wild card” who isn’t to be trusted with high profile games like Battlefield 1.

Game publishers have been steadily manipulating the review process for years, and when you consider how shitty the “AAA” game world’s become… is it any bloody wonder?

Camilo Fernández
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Camilo Fernández

The more this companies try to screw you for your honest work, the more I feel confident for supporting you in patreon. Fuck’em, and thank god for you.

galactix100
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galactix100

Bethesda are beginning to prove themselves just as shitty as the likes of EA and Ubisoft. First that shit with the Fallout 4 season pass and now this.

Nemrex
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Nemrex

Relative to the other big publishers, Bethesda hasn’t done too much bullshit then EA or Ubisoft, since they’re pretty much new to the big publishing scene. Give or take a couple of more years they’ll probably reach it.

But even then, they’ve yet to add microtransaction BS to their full-retail priced games. And given that many games Jim has liked that had on release or post fee-to-pay elements added to them, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of Bethesda’s games makes it to his best of the year awards.

galactix100
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galactix100

Like you said give ’em time. That said I found the season pass stuff particularly bad, a good opening gambit.

KaoTeK
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KaoTeK

Horse armour. Never forget.

Jack Trevor
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Jack Trevor

I don’t think they’ve stooped to that level. They are way too savvy to pull some of the shit Ubisoft and EA pull.

Keep in mind, these were the same idiots who botched the idea of paid mods and managed to bounce back relatively unscathed.

galactix100
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galactix100

They’re on their way. I’ve never understood why Bethesda are viewed so much more positively than others, they’re hardly CD Projekt. All they’ve done is release good games (which I’ve never been that enamoured with) which is what we should expect of every dev/publisher. EA and Ubisoft have released good games and still get slaughtered when they pull this kind of shit and rightly so. Like Nemrex said, maybe it’s because they’re new to publishing games so they’ve still got catching up to do.

Jack Trevor
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Jack Trevor
Skyrim pretty much defined what open world should be for the industry as well as having the biggest mod community out there outside of maybe Minecraft, Fallout 1 is considered one of the greatest RPGs of all time, and they opened their publishing door with Dishonored, one of the biggest surprise hits of that year. You’re basically questioning the studio that brought you some of the best games of the past 15 years. They are basically the new Squaresoft. Doesn’t excuse them but they are basically the “Golden Gods” of the industry. I found the Bestheda conference at E3 one… Read more »
galactix100
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galactix100
Skyrim was shite. It had a pathetic story, laughable combat, repetitive quests, a dull and unoriginal setting, no interesting characters (it didn’t help that they only had about 3 voice actors), a complete lack of ability to create any sort of personality for the player character. Dishonoured was good (still riddled with flaws though) but Bethesda just published it, Arkane made the thing. Giving Bethesda the credit for Dishonoured is like giving EA the credit for Mass Effect (a good rpg). Even if Bethesda’s games were all great (they aren’t) we should be expecting these companies to be releasing high… Read more »
Sperium3000
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Sperium3000
09philj
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09philj

Make doot not war.

Allan Weallans
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Allan Weallans
I keep saying it, but the only ‘good’ pre-order incentive is a discount. Extra content? Wow, extra content for a game I don’t know whether I’ll like or not and therefore have no way of gauging the value of? Huh. The thing is, as far as I’m concerned, what you’re paying for a game isn’t what you think it’s worth (how could you possibly know that?); it’s how much you’re willing to risk on it being good. The higher the risk is, the lower the price should be. Being that pre-orders are inherently more risky than buying a game after… Read more »
Lies That Bind
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Lies That Bind

Is a discount really that big an incentive anyway when you can usually get games at 20 bucks five months later anyway?

Kyolux
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Kyolux

That 20-30 % in Canada is really worth it. And if the game turn out to be shit. I can still return it for a refund.

Waiting 5 months isn’t really appealing to me for games I’d want on release. If I can wait an extra 5 months, I probably just don’t care about the game enough to get it anyway.

CaitSeith
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CaitSeith

Probably you’ll get a better game if you wait those extra 5 months.

Lies That Bind
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Lies That Bind

Fair enough. I know you guys get shafted pretty hard on games up there.

Kev' Bryant
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Kev' Bryant

I would agree that a discount would be the best universal pre-order incentive. I would certainly stop all the “which-store-do-I-buy-from-to-get-red-pants-dlc” that’s going on at the moment. Retailer exclusive pre-order bonuses are exclusionary.

ManuOtaku
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ManuOtaku

Lately, After all that has transpired with streamers, YouTubers, etc, this is not so surprising, since they cannot control traditional journalism, especially independent journalism, the only thing left to do is things like this, i expect this to just expand even more.

circularlogic88
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circularlogic88

Its almost like releasing buggy, incomplete, unfinished, overhyped games that require huge day one patches and withholding reviews until the last possible moment is a bad long term strategy for fostering trust and confidence with your consumer base.

Anton
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Anton

Jim, you’re just generating drama…. for attention…. or for the clicks… something something ethics in journalism.

Erich Fromm Hell
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Here here! Additionally, to this end I will be getting a tattoo of Peter Moore’s face on my scrotum.

Anton
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Anton

Peter Moore? Fucking casual! I have Major Nelson.

Kev' Bryant
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Kev' Bryant

I have Major Nelson on one cheek and David Cage on the other.

When I clench, they kiss.

Anton
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Anton

That’s a legitimate choice, but it removes the option of tattooing Randy Pitchford’s mouth around your anus.

(dear god why do I think these things)

Aristatide
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Aristatide

I have to admit that this thread went down a remarkably steep short slide of visceral “OH GOD LOOK AW–too late” for me.

Kev' Bryant
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Kev' Bryant

I don’t see why; there’s plenty of room in the middle!

carg0
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carg0

agreed… everyone knows Jim’s just a right-wing, leftist, centrifugal force, elitist, half-back for the Tea Party of Guam. he even supports Trump, the stinking ponce… >= (

David James Booth
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David James Booth
I’d only buy a ‘AAA’ game, after reading/watching reviews from yourself/Ben Croshaw, and then watched some of it on twitch. Does anybody expect anything new, inventive or imaginative from AAA games anymore? Doom was successful because it went back to the oldest well of them all… sure its good, but it was good twenty years ago. That’s why I rely on reviews, it takes a lot to convince me to shell out for a AAA game when big developers seem to be stuck in a creative rut 99.9% of the time. These publishers are just missing out on early sales… Read more »
RuRiK_87
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RuRiK_87

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that developers are stuck in a creative rut but more that the majority of publishers limit what the developers are allowed to do, however there are some developers that do seem to focus on the wrong aspects of game development.

Jack Trevor
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Jack Trevor

It more like cowardly executives who want to cling to their money because they think nobody will buy a product that is radically different from what’s already available.

And considering what happened to games like Battleborn, you can’t really blame their reasoning.

RuRiK_87
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RuRiK_87

I am not all against pre-orders since it makes sense for when buying online and digitally, however I think they should only open up to two weeks before the game launches and not months before.

CaitSeith
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CaitSeith

Wait, how does being online and digital give them more sense? Digital pre-order doesn’t offer any advantage over buying post-release that offsets the inherent risks of pre-ordering.

RuRiK_87
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RuRiK_87

Games are 50GB+ these days so take quite some time to download, by pre-ordering the game you can download it roughly 2 days before launch meaning its already installed when its activated and when buying online pre-orders tend to arrive at your doorstep on launch day.

CaitSeith
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CaitSeith

And yet, you have too download the day-one patch too (which in cases like Mafia 3 for PS4 it takes a ridiculous length of time). Even with having the game pre-installed, you still don’t overcome the main disadvantage: you don’t know if the game isn’t worth the price (or even playable) in the first place.

RuRiK_87
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RuRiK_87
Now you are going beyond pre-orders making sense or not and simply delving into development and publishing issues. To counter your argument, I pre-ordered a physical copy of Persona 5 so that it would arrive at my doorstep faster as oposed to have to wait an additional 5 days for shipment. The game arrived, i installed it and downloaded a very small patch which if i remember correctly only adds support for the dlc. The game was a lot better than i expected. Now one of the reasons i pre-ordered without worriess is because i trust Atlus, would i have… Read more »
carg0
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carg0
“While we will continue to work with media, streamers, and YouTubers to support their coverage — both before and after release — we want everyone, including those in the media, to experience our games at the same time.” what a bunch of unmitigated, unadulterated, 100%, f*ing bullshit. let’s run this nonsense through the ol’ BS filter, yes? Translation: “We don’t want our customers making informed decisions about their purchases. We want them to buy our products because we tell them to, sight unseen, through our carefully controlled propaganda. And the only way we can achieve this with maximum efficiency is… Read more »
Sperium3000
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Sperium3000

Steve has a good head on his shoulders.

Terriosaurus Hex
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Terriosaurus Hex
It’s kinda crazy really, I mean, look at Hollywood…do they pull this shit? Their budgets are commonly in the double digit millions, but they don’t attempt to exert as much control and shady business practices with their customers. Games are slowly being pushed towards “services” instead of products of art and entertainment. Services that are under strict control to be cut up, piecemealed out and taken away whenever the publishers decide. Ownership is an illusion they want you to have. Keep feeding less and less, keep the grip tighter and tighter and the profit margins will increase. The shareholders will… Read more »
RuRiK_87
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RuRiK_87

I believe that things will just get worse if the the video game market goes full digital, when that happens we might even see less AAA games making their way to Steam since the majority of publishers will most likely try to push their own services.

Kev' Bryant
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Kev' Bryant

Oh, I hope not. Origins and Uplay have both been awful. And Games for Windows, well. Yeah.

Artemiy
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Artemiy

Don’t worry, soon Microsoft will merge the unholy abomination that is Windows 10 and the slightly less unholy abomination that is XBox 1 into a single entity, a Cerberus of sorts that will handle ALL your gaming needs in a nice, protected way. Prison-like protected.

Kev' Bryant
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Kev' Bryant

I think some of the founders packs are actually good deals though. They promise access to all future paid-for content, excluding micro-transactions. For something like Smite, which grants access to all the characters, that’s a good deal for a lot less than either a retail game or a binge on rng booster packs. Plus, in these cases, you’re usually allowed to try the game for free before buying.

Aisha clanclan
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Aisha clanclan

I’m happy with reviewers not getting advice copy’s their been such corporation with critics and reviewers .
Take the kind of funny guys were sucking konami dick to get exclusive advice copy’s of MGS 5 ,other critic that have their own agendas like fuck konami or just getting paid to give good reviews.

RuRiK_87
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RuRiK_87

*advance, *copies

Aisha clanclan
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Aisha clanclan

Thank you 😊

SecretSmoke
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SecretSmoke

‘member Outlaw Star?
I ‘member…
(watched it through a few months ago. Still holds up!

aimei66
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aimei66

Love the closing theme to that show.

Erich Fromm Hell
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I wouldn’t be too happy about it. There’s nothing to be gained from throwing every critic into the dumpster because of the problems you mention. Putting the ball back on our side of the court, we should be discerning about where we go for information. But this move is about prohibiting those opportunities for consumers as much as anything else.

Aisha clanclan
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Aisha clanclan

No think it’s just publishers have realised they don’t need reviewers and critics to sell games in fact they can be really damaging even if the game is good .

Jarrod Boyd (J-Rod)
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Jarrod Boyd (J-Rod)

Well made games typically get good reviews. Bad games get bad reviews. Plain and simple. People praise Stardew Valley and Shovel Knight for being fun and well-made games. People are harder AAA developers because they have more money and resources to make fantastic games and we get Arkham Knights and Assassin’s Creed: Unities.

Aisha clanclan
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Aisha clanclan

I wish it was that simple but its not as critics will sometimes take one bad aspect of a game and blow it out of proportions even though the rest of the game is good.

Jarrod Boyd (J-Rod)
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Jarrod Boyd (J-Rod)

What game/games are you referring to? Because one bad aspect can ruin a game to the point it’s unplayable.

Aisha clanclan
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Aisha clanclan
Their too meny to name But i will name three street fighter 5 ,no man sky and the order 1886 With SF5 they bashed its lack of content full knowing it was rushed into release for esports and the rest was coming for free later . No man sky was over hype and had missing features but it was still a good game if critics had not lead an assault on it I think public opinion would of been very different. And the best till last the order 1886 was a good game but destroyed by one YouTube video who… Read more »
RuRiK_87
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RuRiK_87
I can see where you are coming from, I slightly remember a good Atelier game being trashed on a Gamespot review because the reviewer didnt like JRPGs and for some reason spent most of the review bashing the game on how sexualized the characters were instead of focusing on the core mechanics of the game. However i dont think that reviewers in general should be cut out of making proper reviews and there are a good chunk of people that buy games based on the reviews, if they didnt the publishers wouldnt take this approach. And these days many unfinished… Read more »
Aisha clanclan
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Aisha clanclan
IGN did the same with white knight chronicles and Jim did it with mad max . The problem is more and more people do not trust games media ,critic or reviewers and are basically making their own minds up without help from them. I welcome them not getting advanced copies it just means critics and reviewers are going to have to step up quietly of their work to keep up . They all talk of innovation in games let’s see if they can do it themselves. If any of them are worth their salt then it should not matter .… Read more »
RuRiK_87
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RuRiK_87
Sometimes one of the problem is that even reviewers get affected by hype culture, look at GTA4 it got amazing reviews while the game wasnt that good and in my opinion even The Phantom Pain was overated, i consider it to be Kojima’s worst game ever, and more recently Uncharted 4 which i consider to be the worst in the Naughty Dog quadrilogy. I like Jim but I don’t always agree with him which is a good sign to be honest, and at times i feel that he doesn’t always practice what he preaches then again a person cant be… Read more »
Aisha clanclan
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Aisha clanclan

True I also find Jim reviews are sometimes based on them being entertaining rather than factual.
To be honest I would not give Jim review code ether as making a game seem bad is worth more to him than a good game.
Look how much content he milked from no man sky .
I follow one rule the only critic you can trust is yourself.

Erich Fromm Hell
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There’s a reason I don’t concern myself with the business imperatives of these decisions as much as I concern myself with the welfare of the cultural discourse surrounding videogames. I play games to have experiences, same way I watch movies and read books. Games don’t exist in a vaccum. They get shared and discussed with a commentariat and an audience. And what we say and think is enormously important to the chain of creative work, how it makes us feel, and how that impacts future creators. It’s a relay system. It’s called culture. And it has managed to historically co-exist… Read more »
Aisha clanclan
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Aisha clanclan
Generally I don’t trust critics they will say this Dev is this and that publisher is that when critics and games media are just as bad if not worse. We don’t need them . I can prove we don’t need critics and this is scaremongering to protect their careers I play lots of JRPGs and Japanese niche games critics and reviewers never touch these games . The community looks after its self . Dark souls is a good example in Total Biscuits words I’m not bothering to do a video on it as most people who wanted it decided for… Read more »
goodbyejojo
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goodbyejojo

i wanted to buy the boxed version of overwatch origins edition, because blizzard’s pc boxes are cool, but my local store didnt have it because it was all sold out on day one, so i couldn’t wait for it, so i bought the digital version, couple of months later, the boxed version showed up in my local store, it felt like it taunted me, i still kinda want the box, but im not sure if im gonna pay the full price for it, but hey, battleborn pc retail is like -70% permanently discounted, i might grab that instead.

diamond
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diamond

Couldn’t you have bought the boxed version on Amazon or Ebay?

goodbyejojo
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goodbyejojo

nah, i wanted to play the game right then and there, but couldn’t wait for anymore, besides it think the shipping would be more expensive than the game itself, due to customs and all

florian
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florian

Say, could you review some nice indie games at those times instead? Since everyone else will be posting a review of the aaa title of that day I’d be happy to read such a review. ^_^

Mandrake42
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Mandrake42
The counter productive thing with the whole concept of this is I generally won’t buy a triple A game without reading some reviews first. By leaving it til the last minute, they essentially ensure I won’t buy a game on day one. Which often means that, by the time reviews are out, I’ve basically gone “Well fuck it, might as well wait for it to come on sale now.” Back when reviews were out a week or so early, if a game was getting good write ups from reviewers I trusted, Id be hyped for it on release day and… Read more »
Giorgos Katsas
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Giorgos Katsas
The moment Chip opened his mouth, I screamed along with Jim, had a sandwich in my mouth, totally worth it. As for the topic, sleazy practice. Forces people to be even more impatient with their money. Pre-order culture has started to piss me off, I really wanted Jim’s opinion on Titanfall 2 a few days ago only, considering I loved the first one and his review about it was one of the more level headed ones, only to find out that he was blacklisted. I mean, I like what I have seen this far about the game and I am… Read more »
Sharadufobash
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Sharadufobash
I think pre-orders feed on the habit modern consumers have of enjoying the experience of getting excited about a product, of getting hyped. Being as I hate the my life and the entire human race and so joy no longer exists for me, I can look on this situation from the outside. When I saw people getting so excited for Fallout 3 or 4 or whatever it was, I thought the whole thing looked like a bonding process – people enjoying the shared experience of expecting joy, like kids in the line for a fairground ride. I think the experience… Read more »
diamond
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diamond

I’m so fucking glad i’m not a miserable bastard like you.

Camfry
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Camfry

ME TOO!

aimei66
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aimei66

Gotta love the industry right now; most companies at least try to look like they value their most loyal customers, but AAA companies seem determined to screw them over. Whether it’s broken games at launch, hidden turds or price drops days after release, they really know how to show they care.

The world needs wild cards more than ever.

Unnoticing Senpai
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Unnoticing Senpai

You’re right. It’s actually getting harder to believe they didn’t deliberately put out shit products at this rate.

SmaMan
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SmaMan

And that’s the thing. As Jim’s mentioned many times, there have been some great games coming out this generation. But they’ve all been held back in some way due to crappy marketing or publishing practices dominating the headlines at launch, rather than those precious 10/10 reviews they lust for.

circularlogic88
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circularlogic88

Better to prey upon ignorance and apathy than release a quality product at launch. Bear in mind that a lot of people buying games are still adults who are either uninformed or don’t care because its an item to cross off their checklist for a son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, niece or nephew. Buyer apathy usually outweighs buyer’s remorse.

TheCreativeWelshman
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TheCreativeWelshman

Here are my rules for pre ordering games

Research the company first
If there is a lot dlc for pre order don’t pre order
If there are no reviews at least a week ahead of time don’t pre order
If all you see are pre order bonuses before any game play is shown don’t pre order
Only pre order Nintendo stuff
Research Indies before pre ordering from them

Keep these rules in mind and you won’t go wrong.

Mandrake42
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Mandrake42

My rules for pre ordering: Don’t.

Takuma
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Takuma

Only time I feel like its ok to preorder is when I am able to play the game before hand and greatly enjoyed what I played, but as you can imagine that happens rarely.

Otherwise I am more likely to wait for reviews/gameplay videos to buy it, forget that I wanted to get it, realize that it has been several months and I would be better off buying it when its 50% or more off.

InfamousDS
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InfamousDS
I pre-order games that are part of a franchise I care about, up until the point where I get burned by the franchise. I won’t preorder EA games any more, as they’ve burned all the bridges for their franchises for me. Dead Space 3 was a travesty, Mass Effect lost my interest with my inability to finish 2 due to a game-breaking glitch at the the disc change, and DA lost me when no textures or character models loaded during the siege on the city and my save was corrupted. I will be wary about RE7 even with the demo,… Read more »
Ana Decker
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Ana Decker

Squenix is on thin ice with me after they’ve apparently decided to stop whitelisting their Vita version in the PSTV just to force people to get the PS4 version for $20 more. Was really hyped for World but I’m not getting a PS4 to play it.

diamond
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diamond

I’m pissed about them splitting Hitman into chunks and charging for each level, that’s why i’m waiting for the physical version to come out.

M.
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M.

Here’s mine:

1. Is it a first-party Nintendo game?
2a. Does it come with a nifty physical bonus, OR
2b. Is it likely to sell out (because I live in the Australian outback with only two game stores within hundreds of kilometres)?

If so, preorder. If not, LOLNOPE. Which, in practice, means that the only games I’ve preordered in the past few years were Pokemon, Splatoon, Mario Maker and Twilight Princess HD.

Fallen Prime
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Fallen Prime

My only preorders have been Pokemon games and The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. Rebirth and the Afterbirth DLC offered discounts off the asking price if preordered, AND Edmund McMillen had all the goodwill in the world with me after the first BOI. And my Pokemon preorders always came with a cute bonus in the form of a trinket or statuette or poster AND mostly came at a time when there was no real digital storefront and they’d be sold out if I didn’t.

Rachel McVeigh
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Rachel McVeigh
I generally only preorder collectors editions cos they will sell out & because it they come with cool swag. Even then I have to be interested enough in a franchise to actually want the cool swag in the collector’s edition. BioWare games, Final Fantasy & Fallout are the only games I’ve bothered with recently collectors edition wise. I am becoming a fan of the Day One editions though, they don’t sell out, so there is no reason to preorder really and you get some nice DLCs as incentives to buy day one (which I generally do anyway) Although this makes… Read more »
carg0
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carg0

im sorry, but i couldn’t disagree more. ‘Cool Ranch’ Doritos are far superior to regular Doritos…

Kev' Bryant
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Kev' Bryant

I know some people are going to request a “Wild Card” tee, so I’d like to +1 that.

I’d also like to ask for a Jim plush again. I’ve got a daughter on the way; who’s going to watch over her, Toy Story style?

Camfry
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Camfry

Yes to everything you said!

Erich Fromm Hell
Guest

Marvellous. More industry bollocks. Oh well… This just represents the latest dribbling deposit of cynicism I can add to the stack that’s built up over the years like layers of sedimentary rock.

Klasodeth
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Klasodeth

The funny part about this is that it punishes the review sites that were bending over backward to please the developers/publishers much more than the sites that already managed to get themselves blacklisted/greylisted. At this rate, there won’t be much incentive for reviewers to pull punches when reviewing a flawed game.

iThinkMyCatIsAFlea
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iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

@Bethesda/All publishers: Thanks! Thanks for withholding review copies. Thanks for trying to trick me into buying your unfinished, buggy, dlc laden games. Thanks for trying to stop reviewers from telling me that your games are unfinished, buggy and full of microtranactions. Thanks for releasing fake, misleading advertising materials to further trick me into buying your games.

Thanks for nothing.

Artemiy
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Artemiy

Well, called it. High five e’ryone.
But yeah, shame on those devs and publishers. And stop preordering videogames.

AnGer
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AnGer

I’d prefer it if every review site went the same route you did. It would be difficult at first, but, this could be a long-term gain for the audiences and sites alike if publishers were removed from the evaluation process.

The only games I preorder nowadays are Atlus’s and Falcom’s. Never go wrong with these and their stuff gets rare too fast at times.

Rachel McVeigh
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Rachel McVeigh
With less reviews of games out before launch, post launch DLC & patches, it is getting riskier and riskier to buy a game on launch day. There is a huge likelihood that you’ll be buying an unfinished game with bugs due to be patched out. DLC is also getting more expensive, so you could end up paying nearly €100 for a game at launch (€70 for game + at least €20 for story DLC), that is not including the special edition if you decide to get that. Unlikely other media, (T.V., film & books) games are an expensive hobby for… Read more »
Aristatide
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Aristatide

There’s also the nice point of irony that as game publishers try harder and harder to get your money without allowing you any real glimpse of the content, book publishers have actually embraced the ‘demo’ concept wholeheartedly with sample chapters now the norm rather than the exception.

Rachel McVeigh
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Rachel McVeigh

Exactly and all book publishers want you to spend is less than €10, maybe a bit more if you spring for a hardback copy. I mean I’d risk €70 on a game based solely on the marketing they provide.

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