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How to review a game?

Posted on 12/10/2013 by with 6 comments

How to review a game

Yeah, that’s right is a simple question. It’s a question that gets overlooked on a lot of gaming sites. Before working here at Beer and Joysticks I wrote for let’s just say some other gaming sites, I’m sure some of you have been to a few of them.

Here are some of my experiences based other sites I have written for and then we’ll get on to the correct way how to review a game.

You get what you get.

One site in particular that I wrote for on a regular basis said that all games had a minimum of two weeks play time before a review was written. That’s great, but in reality they didn’t even care if you played the game at all. They just wanted to be the first to get a review out.

At another gaming site I was told what the review score was before I even played the game, but that was the score I had to use for my review. That was a little weird! When I asked why I would do that, I was told you do that or you don’t get paid for the review. That’s when I decided that I didn’t need to write anything there anymore.

A marketing joke?

I have a long running joke that kind of goes like this you are rushed to create a review. After the review is written the marketing department goes over it and edits anything negative so that the game company will continue to advertise on the site.

Is it really like that or just a joke? Well I have seen article and reviews get changed both ways, I think a couple of times I have seen them changed to make the game sound worse. Not sure if that was because we were advertising a rival game or not.

To me that is unethical and fraudulent. I do not employ methods like this here at Beer and Joysticks.

The right way to review a game!

I can simplify this in one line without any fluff. Tell the truth!

If the truth hurts to a game developer or game company then there in the wrong business.

I normally play a lot of a game before even trying to write anything down. Then I restart the game from the start and start taking notes as I play it through again. I don’t like sugar-coating anything if it’s bad I say why it’s bad. Is there something that could be changed to make it better, I always try to add a solution if possible!

I take a lot of notes while playing and that is where the meat of my review comes from. I don’t like missing any of the details so I keep my finger near the pause button at all times.

Reviewing games isn’t the easy thing to do, you must balance giving out as much detail without spoiling the game for the reader and be honest about what you have experienced in the game. If you follow that you will be a great game reviewer and you will keep people coming back to your site.

That’s just my two cents on how to review a game!

6 responses to How to review a game?

  1. On December 10th, 2013 at 4:21 pm , Kevin Gesterling said...

    Well written, I am still learning how to review games properly, I find it easier and easier as I do them more. There really is no wrong way to do a review, but a lot of the fun in it is to enjoy writing the review, and feeling free to make a wise mark or two I don’t think hurts anything.

    Of course explaining how one likes a game is important but it is just as important to write a review that is easy to understand and it is enjoyable to read.

    And if there is something about the game that I don’t like I will detail it and I’ll explain on how I’d do whatever the issue is differently.

  2. On December 10th, 2013 at 9:15 pm , Chris said...


    Practice does make it a lot easier. Keep up the good work on your hockey highlights, I’m loving those.


  3. On December 11th, 2013 at 5:48 am , Brendan George said...

    Figured I’d throw my two cents in on here. One of the most important things that I feel a lot of ‘indie’ reviews fail to do is to be objective. It sounds a little strange, considering reviews are in general ‘opinions’, but what I mean by this is don’t let preconceptions and personal preferences decide how you review a game. Personally, I’m not great at real time strategy games, and often times dislike such games purely because of that. However, if I were to review say Starcraft II, I would not give it a bad score likely, even though I’m sure I wouldn’t enjoy playing it much. Knowing that I don’t tend to like Real Time Strategy games, I can take that information and use it by, rather than comparing Starcraft II in my head to all games I play, delve down and compare it to all real time strategy games I’ve played, essentially allowing me to determine how well designed the game is and how it feels, regardless of my predisposition towards real time strategy games. Of course, I will still compare UI, Fx and such to every other game I’ve played, but I can isolate the gameplay and take it from an objective standpoint, allowing me to give the game a fair shot.

  4. On December 13th, 2013 at 9:17 am , Chris said...

    Brendan, you are right. I know exactly what your talking about. It’s similar to people saying that every online game is a World of Warcraft clone, yet World of Warcraft is a clone of Everquest if you ask my opinion.

  5. On December 14th, 2013 at 2:49 am , The Otaku Judge said...

    I gave up on reading reviews from “professionals” as it became apparent that their scores are influenced by advertising. The pressure to review lots of titles early also means I don’t trust them to play a game for a sufficient amount of time to form a fair opinion.

  6. On December 14th, 2013 at 11:12 am , Chris said...

    Absolutely spot on!


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