This is a valuable point about how we as outsiders examine games, and it’s also one aspect of the player community that the game development community deeply resents.
There is a narrative in the player community around the Unity engine, that basically asserts it’s a fuckin shitty engine and everything it produces looks and - worse - plays the same. I saw one instance in which it came to a head when a popular YouTube reviewer, jackfrags, levied a major criticism against Escape from Tarkov for using the Unity engine instead of the Unreal engine. He posits that it’s cheap to license, but a poor choice for ‘this type of game’. (this video is set to start when he starts talking about Unity)
Of course, jackfrags is not a developer. He’s a consumer who knows some inside-baseball info about game development, as most of us do. He can make assumptions based on anecdotal evidence, but in the end he hasn’t been in the developers’ offices, watching them work with the engine and build this game. He doesn’t know why they chose it, or what actual impact the engine choice has on the game they produce with it. He just has played some Unity games in the past and thinks he knows how game development works.
He might be on to something about the Unity games he’s played: perhaps they all share similar budgets, or scope, or have the same level of QA testing or ‘polish’. He doesn’t know for sure that Unity is at fault for the things he has noticed, though. Whatever the case, the discourse among players around Unity games is so bad, in Steam forums especially, that, earlier that year, a developer wrote a Twitter thread complaining about it, directly blaming journalists for reporting on engines in the process. The thread garnered thousands of interactions:
Zoë Quinn spent the day commenting on this narrative, too, culminating in a tweet exemplifying Unity’s myriad capabilities:
I disagree with blaming journalists for this. It’s not the journalists’ faults that players like this are fucking stupid. They don’t know better, but they think they do, and yes, it’s from learning what game engine games they don’t like are made with. However, there is merit to the critique that journalists and, by proxy, players are critiquing games for the engines they use like “they [know] shit”, in Forest’s words, when in fact they only know a very small amount.
Journalists and players (a distinction that is becoming increasingly blurry) should be careful in assuming knowledge about what role a game engine played in how a game turned out, and yeah, it’s clear that players learned to make this kind of critique from journalists doing it first. I just think like, 10% of the people who do decide to talk like they know shit about game engines are actually equipped to do so. Whether or not that’s Patrick, I can’t say, but he’d be the kind of journalist who could certainly provide an informed opinion based on substantiated information from sources on the development team!
EDIT: Just heard Thursday’s Sekiro Bonus Pod, in which they talk about this piece and Austin touches on these points