The Emerging Essential Relevance of Value in Game Review

by Justin Nation - April 13, 2017, 2:01 am PDT
Total comments: 18

In a post-mobile and digital market, where "free" games have become a thing, publishers who've become accustomed to traditional pricing methods need to wake up. The review community should continue to force the issue as well.

Back in the stone age when I was in college, and the internet was in its infancy, writing game reviews was quite a different animal. Aside from the obvious differences in the online review landscape another massive difference was that this was long before smartphones (and concepts like the mobile marketplace or digital downloads) so it was a gaming world dominated by large publishers. Without the big publishers and both their finances and infrastructure the prospects of putting a game on a shelf would be horrible for a small-time developer. With that same model in mind publishers had an expectation of scale for games tied to the effort and cost it took to put that same game on the shelf. This generally meant that there were only "big" games of various levels of quality and that typically would only ever differ, perhaps, by $10 in their price tag. Games for system X simply cost Y and that was what everyone knew and accepted.

With that in mind game reviews usually didn't take the cost of the game into account very much. Games could certainly be considered a "rip-off" but since the concept of a radically different pricing for different games on the same system didn't exist the mentality in discussing it was just different. Reviews would tend to focus only on the somewhat normal, and appropriate, elements like the graphics, sound, controls, and gameplay and then there would be a score that would usually be a sort of rough average or so of those pieces and you'd be done.

With the explosion of availability in smartphones and the rapid growth of a light-weight and all-digital mobile marketplace, complete even with the various ways you could get and play games "for free", everything blew up! What we thought we knew about what constituted a released game, what price should be paid for it, and unfortunately also the level of quality to expect were changed forever. It was mind-blowing that you could get a relatively simple but engrossing game to play on your phone for as little as $.99 or less! Though, granted, most of these games weren't terribly deep, and may have only been great for quick bursts of play, but it was impossible for the impression that made to be ignored. For a little while, in the Zynga/Farmville heyday, there were even some very boisterous and laughably misguided claims that the traditional video game industry was going to be put under by all of this (file this next to the cyclical "the PC gaming scene will die because console X is so powerful" argument). Of course, not long after, Zynga and its friend-annoying 15 minutes in the spotlight faded and the world moved on. That doesn't mean that it didn't do so unchanged, though.

In general, the other piece of this puzzle for discussion is the explosion of the independent game developer space. Between the mobile markets, the traditional consoles, and the vital success of indies on the PC with Steam Greenlight, opportunities were created that simply hadn't existed in the years before. You no longer were obligated to hitch your wagon to a massive publisher that would stomp on your creativity and run your team's life in the name of meeting their deadlines and expectations. While there will always be an element of commitment and risk these indie devs were able to publish themselves, team with other indies for support, or at least work with smaller-scale publishers to get their work out there. All of this, together, created a sort of gaming renaissance where creative ideas and quite a bit of good luck could score small teams some substantial rewards. A crucial piece of this success, though, wasn't just tied to the quality of the games or people supporting the indie spirit. It was that as the games scaled down in scope and the size of the development teams required to create games were reduced, often the prices being asked for these games also dropped as a result.

That brings us to the Switch launch, comprised of top-shelf AAA titles, games published by the traditional "big boys" that may not be as hot, and a smattering of indie games as well. With the days of the fixed price point now far in the distance I think value should rightly become a very powerful gauge in game scoring, though probably only to bring scores down and not up. In case the thought that a game’s value shouldn’t bring a score up seems odd consider a free game for a moment. Does the game costing nothing excuse it being poorly made? If you’re saying “Yes” go sit in the corner, please. Much like other factors in reviews ultimately the measure of a game is roughly equivalent to its weakest element. Phenomenal sound doesn’t trump ho-hum gameplay, face-melting graphics don’t redeem slipshod controls. Value shouldn’t be any less important a factor, and in many regards it hasn’t been forgotten, I just don’t think it has been given the reverence and up-front honesty that it deserves either.

We’ll start on the easy and positive side of things for the Switch. Even if you may not think it is one of the best games of all time I think anyone at all would be hard-pressed to argue that somehow $60 seems like too high a price for what Breath of the Wild brings to the table. If there was a way for a game to be up-scored on value it would be a poster child for where that’s appropriate. Another pretty strong example, in part by virtue of its $20 price tag (which I’d argue is roughly at the high end of the sweet spot for an “impulse buy” for most people), is Fast RMX. It has a pretty substantial number of tracks, plays very well, and while it may not be perfect I wouldn’t see where in scoring the game value should play a role.

Now, to make people more uncomfortable, we should have an honest talk about the other end of the spectrum. We’ll start with a game I bought for a series I like, Super Bomberman R. Without thoroughly getting to its faults with the control being a janky at launch, problems with the online mode, decent but not amazing single-player mode, and the annoying unlock system that then doesn’t award coins for local multi-player (the reason they know most people are buying the game in the first place!) I’d probably say the game should have ended up around a 7 or even 7.5. But then we get to value and that’s where, for this title, it gets ugly. Even considering the 7 or so I’d rate the game at $50 as still simply way too much to ask by at least $20, if not more. It’s because of that factor that I’d bring the game down to between a 5.5 and a 6, depending on how far off I’d consider the price to be at that moment. The game rightly got some low-ish scores, and there were often generalized notes about how $50 seemed like a lot or made it hard to recommend, but I didn’t always see a very clear line stating the value problem, discussing how far off the price seems to be, and how that issue then specifically affected the final score.

Moving on to one of the games I’ve had a serious axe to grind with since the start we then move on to 1-2-Switch. Whatever you may think of the game, and I’m being very clear I’m not a fan on several levels, at the end of the day what galls me about the game most is that price tag. I’d probably consider it to be a worse offender than even Bomberman in this specific area. I can look past a game for not appealing to me, different strokes for different folks and all, but when there are so few games on the shelf, it is a Nintendo-made title, and it is obviously there to be picked up by families looking for something for everyone I can’t and won’t shut up about 1-2-Switch’s price being outright wrong. It is that high mostly because of the vacuum and because they can, not because it is worth that price. As a $20 game I don’t have any issue at all with it, I can appreciate it being there to demonstrate the capabilities of the system and something that probably has a bit or piece in it for everyone. As a $50 game it’s embarrassing though, and I worry about the people who could buy that as their ONLY game on the Switch and am wondering what that’s telling them about the system as a whole. Disheartening.

While it isn’t as bad as an example, and it didn’t stop me from buying it, I think that even The Binding of Isaac skated hard on the edge of being scored down on this one for value, and its type of gameplay greatly complicates how you’d choose to score it. Rogue-likes, with their more old-school arcade “put your quarter in and play until you die, then start over again” mentality, have enormous replay value for people who enjoy them (very much me) but they’re not for everyone either. In this specific case I guess the process would start with determining the score for the game in general and then figuring out how the pricing could potentially further bring the game down. I’d say Value would specifically be among the factors that would prevent Isaac from being capable of getting a 10 (I’m planning another editorial on what a perfect score needs to mean), or maybe even a 9, but beyond that space you could use discretion to factor it in less harshly.

My goal in writing this was just to note the issue and to try to reach out to the review community to go beyond traditional gauges like whether you would recommend the game or not, treating the value proposition as a matter more of taste. While that can play into things we need to be willing to clearly acknowledge that there are examples to be had in this new pricing world where the price of the game is clearly too high and to then outright call people out on it. Just as you’d say the graphics or control brought an otherwise good game down don’t let a lowered score that factored in price get the message lost in the shuffle. No, it wasn’t the sound, or the control, or the graphics (even though those things may have also had issues), the biggest problem was that you sold it for more than it is worth, and there’s an entire marketplace out there full of great games for all prices to help establish that fact. To that end this is also a message for developers/publishers, to stop trying to use the old mentality where we just pay some set price. You should look at each game individually and then sell it for what it is truly worth!

Cross-posted from: MAMEiac Gaming

Talkback

compeauApril 13, 2017

I disagree: I don't think the price of a game should factor into the review score.  A game's price inevitably lowers, but the game's quality remains the same.  Add a paragraph near the end talking about the value proposition, but don't let that affect the score.


A game review is about the quality of the product, not its current price.  Can you imagine giving a movie a lower score because it only airs in 3D and thus requires more expensive tickets?  That's ludicrous.

Evan_BApril 13, 2017

While I've made the claim that a game would be better suited at a lower price point, the idea that price=quality of effort and polish should be constant. If a game is a shoddy mess at 20 dollars, I would less surprised than if a game were shoddy at a 60 dollar price point, but I think that in both cases, it's impacting my level of enjoyment in the title, and therefore should be considered a flaw.

There are some games that offer a large chunk of content at a low price, and some games that don't do so at a high price. It's the job of the reviewer to judge whether or not a game offers a satisfying level of play for an acceptable amount of time.

compeauApril 13, 2017

Journey is a 2 hour game, but won a bunch of GOTY awards.  If Journey had been a $60 game, would it then magically be a worse game and no longer worthy of GOTY awards?  That makes no sense.

lolmonadeApril 13, 2017

Quote from: compeau

I disagree: I don't think the price of a game should factor into the review score.  A game's price inevitably lowers, but the game's quality remains the same.  Add a paragraph near the end talking about the value proposition, but don't let that affect the score.


A game review is about the quality of the product, not its current price.  Can you imagine giving a movie a lower score because it only airs in 3D and thus requires more expensive tickets?  That's ludicrous.

Counterpoint: barrier to entry for a movie is typically $8-12, and doesn't have much variance beyond that.  A retail copy of a video game is typically $60, which means there's more inherent risk in a purchase being a "waste of money" if it plays as an unfinished/broken mess.


This is an interesting argument that comes up occasionally, and I personally believe it comes down to this:  Do you think a review should give impressions in a vacuum, or not? 

I think Bomberman R is a great example of this.  In a vacuum, Bomberman R in present state is a competent game that offers good multiplayer fun, but unfortunately suffers from lag and an OK single player experience.  Outside a vacuum, It's been noted a handful of times a version of Bomberman was available digitally on Wii for $15 with better gameplay and more stable online multiplayer.  You're talking about a $35 premium for two comparable games, Bomberman R being arguably a worse entry in the series.

Another example: No Man's Sky.  This game got torn to shreds, and after paying $20 for a copy 4 months after release, I agree with many who suggested that frankly, this game would have been better off treated as an early-access type game for a $20 introductory price, then as they expand on the game and improve it, possibly bumping it up to a final price for those who didn't buy-in at the start.  $60 was a ransom for this game. 

What about games with full retail prices but also have egregious DLC content?  For Honor is a game that had a fun demo, but it's been reported elsewhere that the multiplayer gives a stat tilt towards players who spend money on in-game purchases to buy items that have stat boosts over those who don't.  Is that not worth considering when writing a review for a game?

On the positive end, Rocket League is a great game with incredible replay value if you enjoy the core gameplay experience, and it's only $15-20.  Is it out of bounds for a review to state this as an added positive of an overall review?

Reviews IMO represent not only a critical judgement on the quality of the game itself, but also a recommendation to their readers as to whether it's a purchase they'll likely enjoy or not.  That said, I think generally, price of a game relative to a review probably isn't important unless a review believes a game is a steal at a certain price or if it's essentially milking their customers. 



lolmonadeApril 13, 2017

Quote from: compeau

Journey is a 2 hour game, but won a bunch of GOTY awards.  If Journey had been a $60 game, would it then magically be a worse game and no longer worthy of GOTY awards?  That makes no sense.

It wouldn't be a worse game, but it might be harder for a reviewer to suggest a reader shell out $60 for a beautifully done 2 hour game with not much in replayability. 

Evan_BApril 13, 2017

I think is speaks further to the argument that reviewers should be well-informed about the subject of their review. If you need to review a JRPG, the reviewer should have knowledge of the history of the series as well as previous installments. Is Kirby and the Rainbow Curse a decent 40 dollar game? Compared to Kirby's Canvas Curse, it features less content, but more aesthetic polish and the potential for (okay) multiplayer. Does a new installment in the Pokemon series add enough to warrant another purchase?

In other words, no vaccuum.

KhushrenadaApril 13, 2017

Quote from: compeau

I disagree: I don't think the price of a game should factor into the review score.  A game's price inevitably lowers, but the game's quality remains the same.  Add a paragraph near the end talking about the value proposition, but don't let that affect the score.


A game review is about the quality of the product, not its current price.  Can you imagine giving a movie a lower score because it only airs in 3D and thus requires more expensive tickets?  That's ludicrous.

There have been movie reviews where the final verdict was See It, Rent It or Skip It. In effect, a Rent It ranking was that movie was good but maybe not worth the price or cost of going to the Theatre but something that would be worth the cost of a rental (or seeing it on TV someday). That's not an uncommon sentiment. I've seen some movies and people have asked me if the movie was any good and I said it might be worth watching at some point because maybe it did some things good and some things so-so but the point is that I didn't think it was worth hurrying to the theater to see or paying the admission price but might be worth checking out sometime on Netflix or whenever it gets released to the home market. Basically, I just didn't think the value proposition was right or worth it but if it was a lower price or cost then it would be worth checking out.

Likewise, with video games, I have no problem with price and value being considered as part of the review because it is something I consider when buying a game whether I read a review for it or not. Pushmo is a game that's about $10 or so and I think it's absolutely worth it for the price. But if it was sold for $40.00 or $50.00 or more than I probably wouldn't buy it no matter how well it was made. The value just doesn't seem to be there even if I might sink 20 hours or so into it to solve all the puzzles. Now, maybe someone else might think that it is because they really like puzzlers. If they feel its worth that price, they'll pay for it. That's fine. People have different tastes. Same as if I told someone to rent or skip watching a movie. Maybe it's got an actor they like or it's got some other factor that appeals to them and they still choose to go and see it in the theatre anyways. It's their call and the value still seems to be there for them to do that.

Thus, even if a review talks about the whether they think the game is worth the price being asked for it, it doesn't necessarily mean people are going to not buy it or be an opinion shared by everyone reading it. So, I have no problem with a reviewer questioning if the amount of content is worth the price. However, docking points or basing one's review score based on the cost of the game does seem incorrect since price can change. So, if Pushmo had been released at $50.00 and was reviewed low because the price seemed high for the game, does that mean that new reviews and review scores will be posted if the price had dropped to $10.00 for the game? Probably not. What if the price dropped from $50.00 to $35.00 for a year and then $10.00 permanently. Are there going to be 2 new reviews written adjusting the score of the game based on the current price being offered for it and it's value proposition with the game getting a higher and higher score as the value decreases? That's the problem at the heart of this article. Does this mean reviewers are going to start dictating the price of what games can sell for? That they will only rate a game positively if developers sell it at a price they deem worthy of a high review score?

In that case, why not review every game over $50.00 poorly not matter what until the price drops to $10 or $5 and then give it a 9 or 10 rank? What would be the purpose in reviews at this point? A review just needs to make a person aware of the content like a movie review does. By reviewing the content and how much there is, how engaging it is and maybe what the time of completion it may take an average player to accomplish most of it is really what needs to be discussed to allow people to make up their mind as to whether it is worth paying at the price being offered and decide if the value is there or not.

KeyBillyApril 13, 2017

Reading this discussion made me realize that reviews are most useful when they are based around how well the vision for a game is executed.  If a game tries to be epic in scope, with a complex narrative, then it should be judged on how well it accomplishes that goal.  If it is instead trying to be a simple and addictive puzzle game, it should be judged only against that measure.  This would be the most useful way to calculate a numbered score, rather that judging a game against all other games.

A separate recommendation (buy, wait for a sale, only for fans, skip) would take price into account without muddying the general question of whether the game is good or not.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 13, 2017

I had to look and make sure I wasn't stuck in 2007...

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/forums/index.php?topic=19770.0

KhushrenadaApril 13, 2017

Quote from: KeyBilly

Reading this discussion made me realize that reviews are most useful when they are based around how well the vision for a game is executed.  If a game tries to be epic in scope, with a complex narrative, then it should be judged on how well it accomplishes that goal.  If it is instead trying to be a simple and addictive puzzle game, it should be judged only against that measure.  This would be the most useful way to calculate a numbered score, rather that judging a game against all other games.

A separate recommendation (buy, wait for a sale, only for fans, skip) would take price into account without muddying the general question of whether the game is good or not.

Exactly! This gets back to TV and Movie reviews. Comparing Spiderman 2 to Lawrence of Arabia is not a good comparison because they're different themes, tones, ideas, goals, stories, etc. Now if you want to compare Lawrence of Arabia to other historical epics or Spiderman 2 to other superhero movies or talk about film-making techniques then that's more valid. But if both DVDs cost $25.00 each, is it really necessary to discuss their "essential relevance of value" in comparison to each other?

Here's something I read about in regards to Economics. It has to do with fair market pricing. Let's say you are at the Zoo or a National Park. You're walking around and you are hungry. You find a food lodge/stand/whatever. They are selling a soft serve ice cream cone for $8.00. That's a rip-off, you say. I could buy that type of ice cream cone at McDonald's or Dairy Queen for a quarter of the price. Grumbling away at the ridiculous mark-up, you buy the ice cream upset at the crooks who charge so much knowing you have no other options. Is the ice cream cone priced too high or is the value of it wrong? The answer is no. You might wonder how that can be since other places sell it at a lower value. The answer is that despite the higher price, you were still willing to pay for it thus the value of the item at $8.00 was still deemed reasonable enough or worth it for you to buy it at that price. If you didn't buy it then the price is too high and the value isn't there for you.

Likewise, people are buying 1,2,Switch. Although Justin Nation has long ranted on the price for awhile now and felt that it isn't worth that price hence part of the reason he hasn't bought it, other people have been willing to buy it at that price. Thus, for them, the price was still at a point that they perceived it to be worth it and spend their money on. Now, maybe Nintendo could sell more copies of the game at half the price but it also means they'd have to sell double whatever amount they currently end up selling 1,2,Switch at just to match the profit they would make on it now. Would that happen? Would a lower price result in double or more sales than the current price? It's hard to say but considering the response of 1,2,Switch from its reveal trailer before price was even announced, it would seem that this was a title that was going to have limited demand. If we go by the Japanese sales charts, BotW has sold a bit over twice the amount of 1,2,Switch. Thus, to make the same profit they are making on the game now at half the current sale price, Nintendo has to hope that it would basically equal the sales of BotW and I don't think it would even at half the current sale price. Therefore, Nintendo is pricing it right to get the maximum profit they can from that game and still meet the value of many customers who feel it is worth it at that price to purchase it.

Hence, while a person reviewing a game may not feel the price is right based on the content they've found in it, that doesn't mean their perceived value of the game compared to actual sale price should enter into the score of the game. They are not the ones to decide the price value of a game. That's the market and consumers. If people think it is worth it they will buy it. If they don't then they will not and it is up to the developer to price it at a value the market will accept.

The fact that people will buy something that is over-priced doesn't justify it being so. Consumer confidence is diminished when the value of what they spent the money on isn't what they expected. People will show up to a big spectacle movie that's a sequel but if it sucks badly enough and people feel ripped off those great numbers you got in the previous movie won't do you much good moving forward.


If I'm bothering to review something and share the opinion with people they can take or leave the opinion but if I'm not doing what I can to make a case in any direction there's no point in writing anything at all. You can disagree with my position or reasoning but I'm not just basing a review on what I think on some lower level. I'm stepping outside what I simply think and projecting the proposition of total value or quality on what I think of an "average" person thinking as well. Again, take it or leave it, but "let the market decide" is how people get ripped off.


People, at the the higher end scale, don't generally know any better. They don't know the market, the broad spectrum of what's out there, what these games are being contrasted against. The people who are reading reviews as the entire basis of their opinion are doing so because they're hoping someone who has a broader perspective will steer them correctly towards something that's a worthwhile way to spend their money.


The fact is that as of this moment you have something like the Jackbox Party Pack 3 that is half the price of 1-2-Switch and I would wager easily 80% of the people who would play both at a party would enjoy it more and have an extra $25 in their pocket. I'd wager it wouldn't even be close. It engages more people, has more variety, has more longevity (that's at multiple games, Quiplash 2 alone would still blow 1-2-Switch out most likely), has less barriers to enjoyment, and is a true group activity that could have 8 players and employ anyone else watching as an audience. On just about any level I could identify that makes 1-2-Switch shallow and weak by comparison, at double the price it is crippling. Super Bomberman R, as much as I think Bomberman can be fun as a party game, also loses hands down on experience and doubly so when you factor in price.

I don't share that opinion as having a personal grudge against game X, I'm advocating it because I believe it and I would far rather people spend their money wisely and eke out every ounce of enjoyment they can out of the dollars they spend. I also believe that steering people away from bad purchases, in the end, benefits Nintendo themselves. Bad games with bad value aren't missed by people, they remember it. Take a look at the crash of the gaming industry back with Atari. Too much garbage was shoveled into the system without care and everything collapsed. People lose faith, my interest is in protecting them. I can't do that passively.

Evan_BApril 13, 2017

We get it already, you hate 1-2 Switch! I think you wrote a forum post with that subject, if I seem to remember.

See, you're talking about a very different kind of consumer to a bunch of people who are pretty well-versed in the subject of video games, so I can't help but feel that this would be a better editorial for a more mainstream forum of discussion. Either way, we all want the same thing: reviewers who are better informed. If you can "warn" people of a product of equal or greater quality that exists at a lower price, that's never a bad thing. But I think it works in iterative cases only. You're describing two party games with different objectives, and again, I think a lot of your personal bias is coming in here. If a casual gamer is looking for a party game and come across your review, they might still want to go with 1-2 Switch because of the brand recognition that comes with being a Nintendo-developed game. Bomberman has the added bonus of being available on different platforms at various different prices.

I don't know. It's tough, because you could come across a review for the other party game you mentioned that is really quite awful, so I guess what I'm advocating, once again, are critics who are well-informed on a specific genre. Not all video games are for everyone, so not all reviews should be, either.

ThePermApril 13, 2017

From an auteur theory standpoint, no price should not be inconsideration. Price is determined by the marketing department of a company, it has nothing to do with the quality or whether a game is good or not.

If Richard Donner and Stephen Spielberg made Goonies and Warner Bros decided that the movie was so good that Tickets needed to be $600 a person than that's on marketing. It has nothing to do with the director, the writers or the actors, or the quality of the movie. Just some weird capitalism.

The odd part of saying why people may buy the game, brand recognition and trust in a company or their products, makes it precisely why I'd argue I'm trying to steer people away from it. Even by the standards set by Wii Sports, the least of the Mario Party Series, the least of the Wario Ware series, and NintendoLand I'd consider 1-2-Switch lacking at the end of the day and making the game full price puts the onus on Nintendo to fully justify it. Those crickets you hear are them having moved on, somewhat as you'd expect. For the justified criticism I've thrown at Super Bomberman R I'll at least give Konami credit for trying to patch it and essentially putting in a plan for "free DLC" with more levels and characters to try to make up for the lacking quality in the full-price game they launched with.


Let's get past the individual consumers, in the meta space the game makes an enormously poor value proposition against the other Nintendo game the Switch launched with and against all of those other games Nintendo themselves made. Keep in mind, I'm hardly the only person who disliked it, the game is sitting at a 57 Metacritic score and I'd say that's partially buoyed by people being polite. That's a first-party game getting slagged that is $10 less than a game we can actively argue over being one of the best of all-time. It's bad for business, and again worse if that's somehow the only game a family would buy for the system. Even if they do enjoy it the game is a poor representation of what's on the system and the quality of what Nintendo typically makes, even for the casual audience.


The editorial was hardly exclusively about 1-2-Switch though (I cited Bomberman R and even Isaac as borderline), it's just that it is a very easy example of what I was warning against. Large publishers who are out of touch with the current state of the market and who believe that just because they put their stamp on the game they should, by default, charge full price for it. That ship has sailed, quite some time ago actually, yet at launch Nintendo and Konami came to the plate with that dated concept and blatantly over-charged for what they delivered. The Switch obviously is surviving it but it isn't an error they can continue to make either.

I applaud Nintendo's attempts to highlight aspects of their systems and to experiment. It's absolutely admirable. 1-2-Switch is obviously an extension of that spirit and in that I have no objection either. The issue by and large for the game is the price. As a $20 game I'd have absolutely no issue with it, it just wouldn't have been for me overall. Give it a 7 or something, it is what it is and people could have some fun for less than the cost of taking a few people out to a movie. Move it to $50, and know that you could get multiple titles for the Switch for the same price that have greater value and longevity? That needs to get called out.

The Metacritic score would have been no different if I never said anything about the game, and I've deliberately never posted a formal review of it in any space because it's never healthy to rate what you actively dislike (and aside from Wii Play and some of the other bad waggle-ware games Nintendo devolved into it is unusual for me to have that reaction to one of their products). In a formal review nobody would come out and use the example I did with Jackbox, etc, you'd have criteria like that in mind and try to frame your arguments around the discussion without advocating some other game in the space you're supposed to be focused on the one you're reviewing. Here I'm just trying to "show my work" and the math someone should be doing on this value proposition. As was covered elsewhere reviews cannot be written in a vacuum, doing so would be a disservice to the people looking at reviews in the first place. With that in mind, now that value is no longer a fixed constant, value needs to be in that same comparative space.

Evan_BApril 14, 2017

I'm all for variable pricing as well. But I don't think price should come up in a review and I DO think reviewers should reference ol other works in the same genre. We can agree to disagree on that.

adadadApril 14, 2017

Disagree. As a reviewer, you can't know how much people are paying for a game. Sure, there is such a thing as RRP, but that doesn't guarantee anything over time - look how fast most games' value depreciates these days. And let's not forget that some games even become more expensive over time on the second hand market *coughFireEmblemseriescough*. Price simply isn't something anyone can reliably know or predict, therefore, write reviews based on things that CAN be reasonably assumed. E.g. the person reading is interested in playing this game. By all means, if a reviewer wants to, let them give a reasoning for why X price is good/bad value. But, in my opinion, those words would be better spent elsewhere.

What they pay is irrelevant, you know the launch MSRP, the price that the company is selling the product for. That price is a statement of value by the company releasing the product, and it can be judged as fair or unfair. It being on sale or something else down the line really isn't terribly relevant, much like patches that come down the line for a game (see the current issues for ME: Andromeda) but aren't available when the majority of people would purchase it. Why would suggested price relating to value be different than any other factor?


People keep acting like price is somehow an accident, it is something thoroughly discussed and planned. That decision can be a good one, a bad one, or a terrible one. Sadly, unlike something that could be harder to control through programming it is quite simple to determine, making it even easier to justify being critical of it. If you don't value your money enough to care that you're buying a $30 game that's being given to you in a package you'll pay $50 for, that's on you. If someone did that to you on eBay you'd file a complaint and want your money back. I'm sure the people pocketing the extra $20 appreciate your business though, don't begrudge the efforts of people trying to let other folks know to save their money.

adadadApril 15, 2017

Quote from: Justin

What they pay is irrelevant, you know the launch MSRP, the price that the company is selling the product for. That price is a statement of value by the company releasing the product, and it can be judged as fair or unfair. It being on sale or something else down the line really isn't terribly relevant, much like patches that come down the line for a game (see the current issues for ME: Andromeda) but aren't available when the majority of people would purchase it. Why would suggested price relating to value be different than any other factor?

Your point might be more convincing if one of your key examples in the article wasn't 1-2 Switch, a launch game for a new system, and a casual game at that. Switch is brand new, and supply constrained. This is hardly the time when the majority of people may purchase it.

By all means, criticise the MSRP, but keep in mind that this price is only relevant to early Switch adopters, and even then only unsavvy ones who won't go out of their way for a deal. A review that goes in on price and makes that the centre of its critique is going to lose its value (geddit?) far more quickly than a review that doesn't.

Ultimately what it comes down to for me is that I'm not interested in your review of the company releasing the product, I'm interested in the product itself. It's comparable to reviewers of Pikmin 3 who decided to review the Wii U as a console and Nintendo as a company rather than the game itself. It's true, price, the developer, the publisher, those things may all be worth addressing. But, broadly speaking, the game should be reviewed as a standalone product, because it's the only constant. (Admittedly DLC and patches do mess this up, but that's another discussion.)

Got a news tip? Send it in!
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement