Unfortunately, 2014 was not exactly a stellar year for gaming and, whether you like it or not, there was a number of games that only became what they were intended to be weeks after being released. The likes of Driveclub, Halo The Master Chief Collection and especially Assassin’s Creed Unity all come to mind as games that released broken and were patched later, to some extent (Unity is still having problems especially on PC).
Because of this, games have become more difficult for the press to review. No longer is a game simply released and reviewed with ease. Nowadays, because of the nature of how games are sold and how they are maintained, reviewers have a difficult time reviewing a game that should be great but is held back by technical flaws and bugs, for instance. All that aside, the question I want to ask you is, should reviews be updated?
Personally, I think that they should and this article will back up my argument, but one of my fellow editors here at Gamespresso believes otherwise. She feels that a game should be reviewed almost immediately upon release and that the review itself should not be updated, despite the game receiving fixes and patches weeks and months after its launch. This is the way that it has been for some time. For the most part, a game would be reviewed and the quality of it would barely change over the next few months and years. Downloadable content might be released such as map packs or new missions, but these were commonly reviewed individually. It shouldn’t go on like this.
VideoGamer.com is just one of the sites that has recognized the shift in the way that games need to be reviewed in this day and age. No, a game should not be ignored if it releases broken or does not match what the developers said it would achieve – rather, it should be slated and highly criticized, as was the case with the likes of Assassin’s Creed Unity. But these days the quality of a game is heavily reliant on its post-release patches, and reviews have to reflect that. If the developers successfully fix the problems that have been giving the game low scores, then they should be merited. Otherwise, reviews become outdated and are essentially false advertising for what might become a fantastic game.
You have to remember what the point of a review is. The point of a review is to inform the reader of the quality of the product, so if the quality of the product changes, it only makes sense that the review does too. If I were to pluck a real-life scenario out of the air in relation to this idea, it would be this; a few weeks ago I failed my driving theory test – the piece of paper that I received told me where I had gone wrong and what I would need to work on. Today, I passed my test. I improved on the elements that had failed me before and I was given a higher mark as a result. That’s the way game reviews have to work. Every product should be given a chance to improve. If you’re arguing against me in this situation, then you are saying that even if I passed the test and got a higher mark, my lower mark should still be the one that I receive officially because that’s the original score that I got. That is both deluded and horrifically illogical.
VideoGamer.com’s review of Driveclub is one of the best reviews of a game that I have seen in a long time if only because of the reasons stated above. Originally, the website gave the game an 8/10 after the reviewer had played the game before the public got their hands on it. This review was published when the embargo for the game was lifted. However, when the game was released to the general public it became a mess for a number of reasons and so the score and the contents of the review had to reflect that.
The issues had such a large impact on the quality of the game that it was no longer an 8/10 game. It warranted a worse review, and so the reviewer responded. The review was updated and was given a 6/10 score as well as a few edits in regard to the written text. That is a wonderful example of how things should be done. Gamers who may have been interested in buying the product because of its initial 8/10 product may then have decided against it, as they were warned that the quality of the product had decreased. Had the score stayed the same, loyal readers of the website may have been fooled into buying it and using a product that the review did not initially represent. A few days ago, the review was updated again and has now been reverted back to its original 8/10 score but has left the notes about the games darker days included. This is how the industry needs to move forward when it comes to reviewing games.
We can’t afford to stay in the past and stick to what we’re comfortable with. We have to react to how the industry is changing. I don’t have a PS4, but if I did, I would now seriously be considering picking up Driveclub because of the fact that its patches have warranted it an upgraded score on VideoGamer.com. In fact, I recommended the game to my brother earlier (who does have a PS4) based on the fact that the game had supposedly been fixed and was now a better product for it. Here’s that review that I’ve been talking about if you’re interested in seeing how the updates work.
Having put this idea forward to some of the other editors at Gamespresso and not one of them agreeing with me that our reviews should be updated, I’d love to get your opinion on this matter. As a reader and as a gamer, you have every right to know about the quality of the product in its latest build that you’re planning on buying.
Like it or not, video games are now evolving products rather than merely existing ones, and so the way that they are analysed and reviewed needs to reflect that. Besides, not all of us buy a game immediately when it hits the shelves. We might wait weeks, months or years before we finally decide on spending our money on a game, so we deserve to know how the game holds up in its current state. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.