Influence of Games Journalism on your Purchases


#21

Here’s my typical process for picking up a game:

  • hear about a game on a podcast, through a games website or something direct like E3.

  • game gets set on a priority scale, which varies from the following:
    Super hyped - preorder a special edition if available (such as Breath of the Wild) and within reason for price, or pick up on launch day mostly irrespective of press coverage apart from reports of serious issues (such as Mass Effect Andromeda) with my faith in the developer influencing this preorder (Nintendo producing a good Zelda was a pretty good bet, for example.) Completely avoid coverage of the game, so as to go in as fresh as possible.
    Interested - game goes on a list of games to watch for, read coverage beforehand to sway me one way or the other. Prey is a good example - I have no background with system shock, dues ex etc, but people who’s opinions I respect are interested in this game.
    Curious - these games look cool, but they’ll need to really wow the people who report on them or do something real interesting to make me want to dive in. Flinthook is a good example.

  • Watch out for coverage through outlets and podcasts if they fall in the interested or curious buckets. If I hear good buzz, the game gets more attention. If that buzz comes from someone who aligns with my gaming likes and dislikes, it gains more weight. For example, as much as I respect Jeff over at GB, his joy over Mario Maker didn’t sway me because the types of things he said about it didn’t appeal to me, whereas Austin’s now infamous speech on Invisible Inc elevated that game a few notches.

  • on release, if it’s a game I’m on the edge about, I’ll first check S games scores across outlets. As much as I totally agree that scores are a totally useless thing, they’re my first gut check to whether something is great, alright, average or bad. If it’s low I move on, if it’s mid to high and I’m still on the fence I read through reviews. This results in either a purchase, a “wait for sale” or a dismiss.

  • much like a few people have mentioned, if a game hits a critical amount of buzz and it’s something that sounds in my wheelhouse, I’ll pick it up. For example, the buzz around Stardew Valley at release had me pick it up, though something like Overwatch I still passed on despite the glowing recommendations because online shooters aren’t my thing. I am sometimes swayed depending on the conversation though - Rocket League sure was something I did not give a shit about even with the hype, but then I tried it and loved it.

All this is alongwinded way of saying 2 things: 1, yes, I am influenced by press as to what I pick up (which I feel creates an informed decision) and 2, I clearly have a problem and think about this exact question and process too much.

@WastelandHound hey dude, while I’m here, I just want to chat about what you said about press and the “don’t preorder” Schtick. I’ve had a lot of complicated thoughts about it as well, sometimes swaying in the frustration column in the same way you feel, but I’ve finally come to a realisation/conclusion on it: the people that say “don’t preorder” are only actually giving the listeners/readers half the thought. What it really means is “don’t preorder based on marketing and then complain about it when it doesn’t live up to that marketing/expectations/hype”, and/or “don’t preorder unless you are OK with getting what you’re given, good or bad.” I do believe preorders are a bad thing in some cases, and are such a good way for publishers/GameStop equivalents to suck you into purchases, but at the same time they are important for limited availability of things (such as special editions). Personally I don’t preorder regular copies of games even if I want them day 1 (quite often they will be cheaper at other stores like Target) but will when they have limited editions (I had to import the Nier Automata Black Box edition through a shipping forwarding service so I had to pay shipping twice, but it was definitely worth it.) I believe the people that are on the “don’t preorder” are on the right track in some sense, but they could be more articulate in the why. They also might feel frustrated in that it is literally their job to inform consumers before they spend hard earned cash on these products, so I could understand the frustration on their part when they see 1000s of people complaining about broken games on release etc.


#22

Not to diverge but… where did you hear that Neir 2 was sloppy? On a straight mechanical level it’s one of the tightest and most well-designed action games ever made, one of the best by platinum (aka the people who defined our entire current generation of 3d action games). The only complaints I’ve heard were about the open world feeling directionless if you’re not into backtracky/sidequesty RPG progression

ON TOPIC: It’s video or nothing for me at this point. I definitely have my preferred voices as far as who I watch play games, but those voices act almost more as curators rather than guides - it’s less about their own opinion of or experience w the game, and more about whether I just like the look of the thing. Written reviews or pieces are great, but I usually only read them for games I’ve already played, especially when it’s a positive review on something I didn’t like (I’ve been turned around on games I bounced off of by reading about other people’s experiences, most notably the original Spelunky).


#23

Answering the thread title question at hand: slim to none. It’s not that I don’t value the opinions of people especially with my minuscule disposable income but at this point, as mentioned here before, I vastly prefer to see the gameplay myself, be it through video or ideally a demo. The decline of the playable demo is my biggest problem at the minute when deciding where I put my money.
Review scores to that effect don’t really affect me much, it is a useful metric sure but there is a sizable number of candidates with low scores that I found fulfilling when I experienced them (original Nier, El Shaddai)
Ultimately day one purchases have become rare for me with exceptions like franchises I have been invested in for years if not decades. Tekken 7 being the most recent example although that is its own exception since it has been out on Arcades forever.


#24

less and less as time has gone on. The game reviewers/journalist space has changed drastically. If you want someone’s opinion on a game you can drown in them. But is there anyone who’s views I actually care about? Very few.
I’m not going to plug anyone in particular but I still pay attention to them because of a very long and consistent track record of not being awful, and honestly they are a special case because of the circumstances of the founding of the site and the staff they tend to attract.


#25

The type of coverage that is most likely to get me to drop money is probably video coverage of gameplay. But, I tend to less frequently watch sponsored video/streaming and I definitely bring a bit more skepticism with me, even if it’s a streamer or someone I think can be fair. This probably sucks for content producers since they gotta get paid, but I (maybe unavoidably?) get left feeling like I need to check around a bit more to be safe.


#26

being mostly a niche strategy gamer i rely on journalists and the like to surface new games that might be worth playing, but since the field is so small, it’s functionally like i have a personal relationship with most of these people and know how their tastes and mine may or may not line up. plus, generally with strategy games a good review talks enough about what its like to actually play the game I can make my own impression of weather i’ll like it or not.

bottom line is tho if they like it on three moves ahead it has my attention.


#27

Games journalism convinced me to buy Neir: Automata for my birthday, when I should have just taken the $60 and saved it for Prey or done something boring and put it toward my phone bill.

I didn’t regret it for the first third of the game, but I haven’t been able to make myself play it since I got to 9S, who’s playstyle isn’t my bag, and have been unable to overlook the massive flaws of the game that went underreported because everyone was either too busy verbally smooching Yoko Taro and Platinum Games, or didn’t think it was important to report on.

Now, if I want to exchange it for Prey, a game I know I will like because Arkane is more in my wheelhouse, I’ll only get $23 for it, which is a fucking rip off.

I’ve started being a lot more careful about things recommended to me by articles–though things like Neir: Automata sometimes still happen–or even articles that say a game has experiences that might resonate with me. Just because I like reading or watching a game doesn’t mean I’ll enjoy playing with it. Something that glimmers from afar may seem like a diamond, but a closer look could reveal it to simply be glass.


#28

These days, I pretty much only hear about games from a couple of friends who buy a ton of things as they come out, or from Giant Bomb, Idle Thumbs, and Waypoint. Games Journalism influences me in that I only ever really hear about games if someone talks about them. I didn’t even know Prey had come out until a week or two after the podcast where Danielle was talking about it because I was a bit behind in listening at the time.

Once my attention has been brought to a game, then I filter with the types of games I like and my general agreement/disagreement with the journalist in question. That’s why Waypoint fills a much needed gap for me, I just wasn’t hearing about the types of games that are covered around here unless Alex Navarro happened to mention it.


#29

To be more clear, what I was trying to convey is that I got the impression that playing the game was boring. I want to say that yours if the first comment I’ve read that the mechanical aspects of the game are fun, as most praise I’ve seen is about its writing.


#30

That’s actually really interesting. I can definitely see how the coverage could imply that - I’m a big platinum nerd and got to play the demo by chance, so I knew ahead of time that it was first-and-foremost a fun action game, but thinking about what I’ve seen journalists write about the game, everybody does seem to almost exclusively talk about the story and the world. I can’t say you’ll 100% like it (some people bounce off platinum’s action formula pretty hard) but if you played/liked Metal Gear Rising or Bayonetta or DMC3/4, Neir 2 is the successor to those gameplay-wise and done really well.

I’ll stop clogging the thread w/ Neir talk now lol


#31

well, i can wrap this back into the topic because i think this shows how games journalism works for me and others; it’s one ingredient in a thought salad that my brain is throwing together. thinking about the listener’s question, it’s easy to see how someone’s opinion can get mixed up in the thought process, lose it’s source, get altered and then just become a part of that person’s thought process.


#32

If it’s a major game then I don’t think I’m very influenced by journalism, I just sort of look and see if it seems like something I’d like. But games journalism (waypoint specifically) has turned me on to a lot of the smaller games I’ve downloaded (mainly from itch.io). For example, 4ever Transit Authority is one I know I downloaded purely because of a waypoint post about it. Even if I can get them for free, I try to at least give some money for games to support the smaller makers.


#33

I read reviews if the game has any interest to me, but often impressions of a new game will come through a podcast, well before any friends will pitch me on a game they like.
I can’t say exactly how often positive impressions of a game via opinions of which I value and trust will sell me on a game, but it has happened. Often it’s more of a scale tipper, if the praise is overwhelmingly positive, but it’s a Persona style game or an RTS I know it’s not for me, but if it’s the type of game I can see myself enjoying, and people are speaking positively about it it’ll often be enough to get me to buy it to try it out.
In those cases there are also the helpful Quick Look™ or livestream of a game to get an additional sense of what kind of game it is. Dead Cells was one of those where talking it up just didn’t sell me on it, but a gameplay video did.

Then there’s a case of where I had absolutely written Prey off due to poor experiences with the demo plus poor experiences going back to games like Dishonored and Deus Ex: HR, which this is very much inspired by, but someone just gifted it to me on Steam so I felt an obligation to try it.
It’s a middling game so far but that’s not pertinent to this thread.


#34

I don’t usually make a direct purchasing decision based on it, as I’ve loved games my favorite journalists hate, and vice versa

However if it wasn’t for giant bomb over the years, I wouldn’t have discovered so many awesome games to begin with


#35

Listening to podcasts or following writers on Twitter has been great for some interesting discoveries. Like reading Janine Hawkins impressions about Blue Reflection made me very excited for a game that I otherwise would never even give the light of day.

There will be a lot of misses in between the hits, but even playing a bad game brings it own unique experiences.