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Evening Reading

by Garnett Lee, Feb 15, 2011 5:00pm PST

I received word today that the publisher of a fairly high profile video game due out shortly plans to handle pre-release reviews with an event. These "review events" give me great cause for concern, but not for the reason you might immediately think. Anyone at the level in the business to make the invite list for one of these things is well above the threshold of remotely being able to be bought off.

No, ironically, the real loser out of these deals is the game. On a AAA game--particularly of the sort prone to get the review event treatment--hundreds of people have worked months and months, often stretching into years, to create the game. In fact, on many of these games the last few months all those people will have been playing the game over and over, tweaking this and adjusting that to carefully craft the final experience.

And then it gets handed to a reviewer and the clock started on the brief few hours they are afforded at the event to play the game. Who does this sound like a good idea to? Wouldn't you want the person critiquing the game to have ample time to enjoy that content at their pace? On top of that, I can't count how many times I've gone back to a game while working on a review to replay a section or try something different or just double-check my impression from the first time through. And don't invoke the piracy defense because any outlet for which that would be a concern opens a much bigger issue to be addressed.

Tl;dr -- game review events are bad for all involved.

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