Friday feelings: Negative reviews (and why I don’t write them)

After a week off from these posts (sorry, SorCon fail) I’m returning to a topic started in my last Friday Feelings: that I’m not worried about negative reviews. To recap, in my view you simply have to accept them as part of the public creative process.

But other than sticking the boot in with the occasional mean comment about a game (the Firefly game being a total write off, for example) I personally rarely do full length negative reviews. So, why?

The most obvious reason is ‘so many games, so little time’. I like to play a game at least 4-5 times before I do a long review. So, if after two plays I’m playing it right and decided it’s terrible, why go on? I have limited time to play games and I’m having to drag others in to play them. My life is too short, and my friends’ patience only so long. Even if I have to pay postage to send it back, I’d rather do that than force people to play a stinker.

Quality versus taste

On occasion I’ll review a game I don’t really like, but that’s different than it not being any good. That’s the main reason I introduced the ‘four sides‘ review format and why I talk about ‘key observations’: so I can talk about differing opinions (so the negative stuff comes here). The number of reviewers who can’t tell the difference between actual quality and their own personal taste is incredible – but I guess that’s what happens when most blogs, videos and podcasts now have no real editorial overseeing.

On a more cynical point, I’m averse to breathing life into bad games by giving them airtime. It’s a ridiculously busy marketplace. While warning people off a poor game has merit, with thousands being released each year it seems more sensible to euthanize them with silence. I review about 50 games each year. Doing a few bad ones simply equates to not bigging-up a few great ones. Why would I do that?

You bought what?

And in the end, I’m writing because I love writing – and getting some free and cheap games is awesome. Any reviewer who thinks they influence more than a handful of purchasing decisions is kidding themselves – just look at the host of top-sellers that get roundly slammed by reviewers. It’s the same in the music and film – no matter what reviewers say, the public go with their hearts.

Any why shouldn’t they? My voice is just one of many. The right one, perhaps, but still…

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