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Spokker 08-13-2013 03:25 AM

Why did GameCritics never catch on?
Whenever I think about a game, I have to read the GameCritics review. Whether I agree with the review or not, I value the opinion of the GameCritics writer writing under that brand.

In general, when I read most reviews I honestly don't care that much about the author's opinion. I will read reviews from any source to figure out what a game is and filter out the opinion for the most part.

For example, Gamespot's 4.5 review of DuckTales: Remastered completely sold me on the game. Why? Because the review accomplished the simple task of telling me what the game is. I felt that for all the reasons this author hated the game, I will probably like it. Who knows, I may be wrong. This also speaks to the wisdom of reading the review, not just checking out the scores, an idea GameCritics was founded on, I think.

But when it comes to GameCritics, I value the opinion of the author (usually). The GameCritics review of the Alone in the Dark re-release sold me on the game, even though I wasn't receptive to the game in the first. It had a poor reputation due to its previous version. I already knew what the game was and was turned off, but the GameCritics review made me think about it differently, and this usually doesn't happen with IGN, Gamespot, etc. Those guys have never made me think differently about a game.

I ended up playing the game and the GameCritics review helped me understand what the game was trying to do and I enjoyed myself. And hey, the game being $5 helped I guess.

And that was just last month. I essentially use this site to find gems like this, games I've overlooked basically. It has always been a disappointment to me that the forums never got a lot of traffic. My own use of this site lapsed because I found that the ads were annoying at one point, though they've been scaled back I noticed.

The reviews are listed on Gamerankings, but don't reach the very top of the Google search results. The reviews don't get that many comments unless you are perceived to have gone against the grain. In that case, it's just a bunch of pussies with no arguments to offer.

While I don't agree with everything posted on GameCritics (where would the fun be in that), and you guys get too involved in the "portrayals of women/minorities/gays/whatever" trend that has been going on recently, I'm disappointed the site is not the biggest gaming site on the Internet.

Kin Korn Karn 08-13-2013 06:17 PM

Re: Why did GameCritics never catch on?
This site has introduced me to many games that were under the radar or maybe fairly misunderstood over the years:

Animal Crossing (original GC version, we had a really active community here, trading and helping)
Mad Maestro
Katamari Damacy

Off the top of my head, those.

Many of these games were discussed here before other mainstream sites caught on.

Today there is a glut of online content and paths to discussion. GC is not at the vanguard of this today. That does not mean GC is irrelevant, just that GC does not have that key differentiator of being the only "thinkers" gaming site today.

I'll see the occasional thread on GameFAQs where people are pointing to a "bad" review published here. I think GC has picked up a bit of a reputation as "that site that gets hits by purposefully low-balling review scores". Ironic as GC was one of the first sites to NOT do a review score, only to reinstate that practice after a spell.

Chi Kong Lui 08-14-2013 07:06 PM

Re: Why did GameCritics never catch on?
Where to start?
1) I wrote this back in 2008: Why game criticism doesn't exist
2) We also touch on many of the issues on the 2 part podcast episodes "Myths of Game Criticism"
3) I suck at business. But then again, had the site became a full-time business, I suspect we would have tanked like so many other efforts like Crispy Gamer.

Brad Gallaway 08-20-2013 12:55 AM

Re: Why did GameCritics never catch on?
Thanks for the kind words, you guys! It feels great to know that there are at least a few people out there who get value out of what we do.

If I had to explain why we haven't gotten bigger, i think it all comes down to time. We all have day jobs and many of us have families.

We just don't have the bandwidth to be 'out there' as much as other sites do, probably because they're generally staffed with single twentysomethings who have lots of free time and can survive on frighteningly small earnings.

it's tough to work a full day to support your family and then come home and work some more, and for free. keeping up with games takes a lot of effort, and balancing that with real life is a challenge - there are just so many hours in the day.

Richard Naik 08-20-2013 11:19 PM

Re: Why did GameCritics never catch on?
Ditto to what Brad said. Pretty much everyone here has a day job of some sort, so the time to play bigger games can be limited.

Tim Spaeth 08-21-2013 07:40 PM

Re: Why did GameCritics never catch on?
Remember when we'd get mobbed at mall appearances? God, what a rush.

Spokker 09-10-2013 02:38 AM

Re: Why did GameCritics never catch on?

Originally Posted by Chi Kong Lui (Post 210273)
Where to start?
1) I wrote this back in 2008: Why game criticism doesn't exist

The demand explanation makes sense. It's also that the critic-publisher power dynamic is so lopsided toward the publisher. I don't think outright paid reviews are common as /v/ thinks they are, but publications are definitely spoonfed information, exclusive and otherwise, under the expectation of favorable coverage.

I like to think that Roger Ebert was not beholden to any movie studio (he was accused of being beholden to ABC on a few occasions). He was both a critic and reviewer. He was mainstream (what movie is good right now?) and intelligent (why is this movie good or bad?). He was also good at finding where the mainstream and the intelligent merged.

Another reason the GameCritics brand of criticism may not be in demand is because criticism is perceived as something bad. It's bad to criticize. We grow up being taught this. A lot of people in the mainstream don't want to play 5/10, three star or 75% rated games. Those are some of the most fun games games I've ever played, especially those that generate a wide variation in scores (and more importantly, opinions).

I like Gather Your Party. I am usually weary of any publication that calls themselves honest (I'll be the judge of that), but here's an example of some thought-provoking material.

In the comments I suggested that video games don't necessarily need stories.

Spokker 09-16-2013 05:55 PM

Re: Why did GameCritics never catch on?
By the way, can't wait for the GTA V review. I just hope some people show up to argue with me about the misogyny in the game. Nobody took the bait in the post about PAX.

JLB1987 09-17-2013 09:19 AM

Re: Why did GameCritics never catch on?
I use this site mainly for the fantastic forums. Despite the ridiculously low userbase, the interaction with other people here is brilliant. I value the fact that everyone here seems to be intelligent, unlike, say, Destructoid, who's demographic consists of people trying desperately hard to impress Jim Sterling/ Jonathon Holmes, and arrogant pricks. Seriously- I tried answering this one guy's question a couple of months ago, and immediately got shot down by him. Haven't really been back since.

The reviews, on the whole, are excellent. A couple of the authors I could take or leave (a few of the reviews tend to be a bit dry for my tastes), but I agree with what has already been said- honest opinions, here are the facts, here is what you need to know. I've both loved games that have been rated lowly on here, and hated games that have been praised. Either way, I knew exactly what was in store for me, and wasn't really surprised with any outcome.

It is a shame this site goes pretty unnoticed, but all we can do is carry on what we're doing- reading the reviews, contributing to the forums, and not acting like cocks whilst we're doing any of that.

frogofdeath 09-21-2013 07:51 AM

Re: Why did GameCritics never catch on?

Originally Posted by JLB1987 (Post 210322)
I use this site mainly for the fantastic forums.

This is the original reason I came to GameCritics over a decade ago! There were many regular posters that kept me coming back for (mostly) intelligent game discussion. Of course, times changed, including the web, and people moved on. But I still lurk every so often.

As for the main site, I still use the reviews to find games I may not have thought of or get better perspectives of games every other site is saying is the best game of all time. The reviews are still solid, even with all the new writers. The fact that the site is still around should be testament enough to the quality of thought and writing, even if the quantity of readers never reaches levels of other gaming sites.

On a personal note, I will always be grateful to GameCritics for publishing a few of my reviews: here, here, and here!

Li-Ion 10-03-2013 08:23 AM

Re: Why did GameCritics never catch on?

Originally Posted by JLB1987 (Post 210322)
I use this site mainly for the fantastic forums. Despite the ridiculously low userbase, the interaction with other people here is brilliant.

Quality trumps quantity ;)

Brad's review just put Lost Planet 3 on my watchlist. A game I might probably not bother with otherwise due to middling reviews on other sites. But in best GC tradition he points out why this 'average' looking shooter is quietly brilliant. For that I am thankful as someone who is always looking for those diamonds in the rough.

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