Jim Sterling Quits Traditional Reviewing

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT
 

As posted on his site this morning, Jim Sterling is no longer going to write or produce video reviews any longer. http://www.thejimquisition.com/changing-criticism-or-fuck-game-reviews/

At least in the traditional sense. While he will no longer write up full reviews in which he talks about a game and slaps a score on at the end of it, he will still be doing a "Jimpressions" video about given games as they come up. These videos are basically piece-meal reviews in which he rants about his thoughts of a given game as he plays through the thing. Basically he is almost directly taking Totalbiscuits "WTF is..." Format and applying his own brand to it.

Either way it's an article that does make up an interesting point in that it is hard to bother with reading or watching any review on a "AAA" game because you pretty much know any "AAA" game is going to get at least an 8 unless the game is completely fucked.

As pointed out in another thread as to the Escapist no longer reviewing games, reviewers are becoming obsolete. They are fading because they can't be trusted anymore, and probably haven't been able to be trusted in a long time. Shadow of War reviews barely mention the lootboxes that independent folk report are shadier than it would seem if you just watch a mainline reviewer.

Shadow of War is in a grey spot right now. The true test will be the Star Wars Battlefront reviews. The Beta made a pretty big splash in terms of how fucking shitty the lootbox system is, and if we see reviewers simply gloss over them, or ignore them completely, you'll basically know that reviews of that game can't be trusted.

Yet part of me wonders if it really matters anymore. Sadly I think the "review" business has gotten so corrupt and bought out by publishers that it can never really be fixed outside of independent Youtubers like AngryJoe, Sterling, etc, and even then they are not going to be capable of reviewing everything like this Ign's and Gamespots can because of staffing.

Can reviews be fixed? I'm not sure. It surely doesn't seem to matter because no matter how shitty of a business practice Star Wars will impose upon people, I don't know that it will do anything to stop these games from selling like hotcakes. It's very frustrating for me, as someone who loves to review and read reviews on games I'm on the fence of, I hate to see it fester as the shitshow it clearly is.

What do you guys think?

I think reviews may not be obsolete, but they're definitely problematic, imho. Really, the only time I read reviews are for games I'm not really interested in (which is more often the case nowadays) simply because I know I won't be buying them and don't really care to have my opinion swayed. If I'm interested in something, I prefer to form my own, unbiased opinion. I don't want someone else's subjective opinion tainting my own. In attempts to be fair and the firmly held belief that perfection is unattainable, a reviewer feels obligated to find flaws, and regardless of how prominent they may be, "what has been seen cannot be unseen." If they mention frame rate issues, I'll look for frame rate issues even if they often mean little to nothing to me. If they mention bad voice acting, I'll be listening for bad voice acting even if I personally might not have noticed it to begin with. When all's said and done, subconsciously or otherwise, I'll be looking for all the flaws someone else noticed and that can have an impact on my experience.

Going back to the dead horse we've been beating in another thread, videogames to me are entertainment and my criteria for a "worth it" game are not that high. All I need is fun gameplay, an entertaining story and both where applicable. I don't need the best graphics; I still love Morrowind, to this day, but at it's the time, graphically it was subpar when compared to similar games. I don't need a minimum 8 hour campaign; Inside is one of my favorite games of all time; the 3 hours I beat it in are some of the best of my +30 year gaming life, but it's length was one of the few criticisms leveled at it when it came out.

Nope, to fix reviews, take the humans out of them. I want objectivity, Jim Sterling did a wonderful spoof of a purely objective review and I thought it was perfect. Exaggerated, of course, but more in line with what I'd prefer than anything any other reviewer has done. Honestly, just tell me enough objectively about a game to pique my interest; tell me the genre, a high-level story synopsis and a few screetnshots, and I'll try it myself finding only the flaws I feel affect my experience. That or do the whole Yahtzee thing and ONLY find the flaws and blow them out of proportion; at least it's entertaining, taken lightly and lets me know it's likely not going to be THAT bad.

I think the problem with game reviews is that people have ridiculously specific expectations of them as 1-10 scored buyers guides and independend infotainment. I have nothing against those kinds of reviews but its become the only way to review a game now and if people talk about games in a somewhat different way they are immediately told they are doing it wrong or they get to have a fun semantic argument about what a review is and whether what they do counts as such.

With these buyers guide reviews, the need consumers supposedly have for them is often vastly overstated. It is incredibly easy to find nearly all the information you want on games before you buy them by browsing different written reviews and watching some gameplay. A couple reviewers less of the specific format I described above can't hurt. Game criticism branching out in all kinds of interesting directions is thus warmly welcomed by me.

I haven't read a game review in years. I don't care what critics or reviewers think. It's an obsolete and inherently arrogant medium.
This clip basically sums up what all critics think of themselves:

Jim Sterling:
"Jimpressions, formerly part of my ad-supported content, will become officially part of the Jimquisition brand, which it should?ve been anyway with a name like that. Jimpressions will be me talking over footage of games that I?ve captured, focusing on aspects of the game I specifically want to talk about without the same old tired structure of a review format."

I say good. Jimpressions was always more enjoyable than his straight reviews, anyway.

I'll read reviews occasionally, but gameplay videos have always been much more compelling when I'm deciding whether to buy a game or not.

Jim... wasn't a very good reviewer to say the least (at least in the last years). His temper tantrum over Hellblade kinda epitomizes that.

inu-kun:
Jim... wasn't a very good reviewer to say the least (at least in the last years). His temper tantrum over Hellblade kinda epitomizes that.

Or, y'know, it demonstrated sincerity and transparency and that he was smart and modest enough to admit he made a mistake? Game reviews are subjective, after all, and his experience was subjectively broken initially.

Aside from that: I barely ever check his own site with the written reviews, and as good a reviewer as I think he was/is, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. If he's not going to do any proper video reviews anymore, then that's a shame, as I feel there's definitely still a place for that format.

I think the sentence 'can reviews be fixed?' is ridiculous. Times have changed, that's all. With people like George Weidman, Joseph Anderson, VaatiVidya, Total Biscuit and incredibly reliable, pro-consumer LP accounts of games (from people like Gopher, who's no bullshitter and has the trust of his audience), we're living in a veritable golden age of intellectual critique and industry commentary (to go along with what I feel's a golden age of gaming[1]).

[1] Never in the history of the medium has there been such a spectrum of experiences and game styles, to such an extent that - amusingly - some start to question the very essence of what a game 'is'.

Xprimentyl:
snip

"I don't want reviews pointing out the game's flaws, I want objectivity."

image

For that kind of "objectivity" you can't do any better than reading the list of the game's features from the developer/publisher/retailer website.

As much as people like to shit all over reviews, personally I think we're best off with variety, and this helps add to variety.

inu-kun:
Jim... wasn't a very good reviewer to say the least (at least in the last years). His temper tantrum over Hellblade kinda epitomizes that.

What Darth said. I don't agree with CriticalGaming on how all reviewers are now garbage because they're not talking about microtransactions as much as he wants them to, but how would you want a reviewer encountering a game breaking bug? I spent six months doing freelance journalism and I encountered a game where the last three levels wouldn't load. I gave the game a 2. I was originally going to give it a six or a five (with five being an average game on the scale I was using) but after that I gave it a 2 and I don't regret it. I clarified which version of the game I was using just in case that was where the problem was, but I still stand by the 2 I gave that shit shit game.

The problem with game reviews is that very few people these days use them to actually inform themselves about a game they're interested in; instead, they want reviews to buttress their already-formed opinions.

It seems ok. His reply to a comment about patching being at odds with hard reviews is also something I have been thinking about.

Jim Sterling:

The complexities of the Rube Goldberg-style game industry have made static reviews a problem, and it's absolutely grated on me before. At least with the video content, there's an added value of *seeing* a game in snapshot form, so it becomes somewhat archival and interesting. With a review, it just feels out of date.

Darth Rosenberg:

inu-kun:
Jim... wasn't a very good reviewer to say the least (at least in the last years). His temper tantrum over Hellblade kinda epitomizes that.

Or, y'know, it demonstrated sincerity and transparency and that he was smart and modest enough to admit he made a mistake? Game reviews are subjective, after all, and his experience was subjectively broken initially.

erttheking:

What Darth said. I don't agree with CriticalGaming on how all reviewers are now garbage because they're not talking about microtransactions as much as he wants them to, but how would you want a reviewer encountering a game breaking bug? I spent six months doing freelance journalism and I encountered a game where the last three levels wouldn't load. I gave the game a 2. I was originally going to give it a six or a five (with five being an average game on the scale I was using) but after that I gave it a 2 and I don't regret it. I clarified which version of the game I was using just in case that was where the problem was, but I still stand by the 2 I gave that shit shit game.

There's no excuse for that temper tantrum, he could have waited for a fix (or contacted the devs to try to debug it/get a new save), watched other people play via youtube it or just replayed an already short game (I see a speedrun at 2 hours). Apologizing afterwards doesn't make it less display of childishness and laziness.

I miss the old Extended Play and X-Play reviews. Those were perfect, and they didn't pull punches, even if the game was a big name one. Sadly, they have long since passed, and I never really found any other site or source of information that seemed to be as reliable as they were. So now, I just do my own research.
I think the only reviewer I actually listen to is Angry Joe, and that's because he makes me laugh a lot of the time.

I imagine a good part of it is that now he's not doing reviews, and moving Jimpressions under his adfree banner, it means he's got a lot more content to push that makes donating to his Patreon look a lot more attractive.

inu-kun:
he could have waited for a fix (or contacted the devs to try to debug it/get a new save)

Yeah, how did that work for the people who bought Arkham Knight for PC on release day? It isn't his job to help repair a game that's already marked as "ready for release".

erttheking:

What Darth said. I don't agree with CriticalGaming on how all reviewers are now garbage because they're not talking about microtransactions as much as he wants them to, but how would you want a reviewer encountering a game breaking bug?

That isn't at all why I think reviewers for the big sites are shit. They are shit because they gloss over the negatives and don't properly inform. The Microtransaction thing is only brought up because that is the biggest thing happening at the moment.

It's too shady of a practice the way these publishers strong arm these reviewers. It's not even the reviewer's faults. Totalbiscuits has been very vocal about some of the "review" press he gets from publishers that directly tell him not to talk shit about certain things within the game. These sites THRIVE on getting reviews early which means they have to cater to what the publisher wants, otherwise they wont get early copies to post their reviews at embargo. Embargo itself is a fucking shit practice that needs to die in a dumpster too.

Games press need to have freedom and support to do their job. If you don't want them talking shit about your game, don't make a shit game. Because NO real writer will give a good game a shitty score. They may not suck the game's throbbing willy, but they wont give it a -4/10. "Everything works, game is mostly fun, but I hate elves so 2/10". Doesn't happen.

If the game is shit, a reviewer will say it is shit. If it is a good game, the reviewer will say so even if it doesn't appeal to their tastes. Using TotalBiscuit again, he just posted a "WTF is..." Video on Battlechasers: Nightwar. A game he praised in a lot of ways, however he did have some personal issues with the game and stated them. But he also pointed out that the way the game plays is just not something he enjoys, but he recognizes that the game itself is still good and can see the appeal people.

That's what a critic should do.

I felt Jim was a pretty bad reviewer even though I very much agreed with how he rated the games (based on enjoyment). It's obviously that he's not very good at playing games via his Vanquish review way back or his The Last Guardian review where he didn't even understand there was a way command Trico. I do commend Jim for rating games under a 5 he didn't like just because he didn't like them (which is the whole fucking point), but I rarely agreed with his opinion overall.

CritialGaming:
Either way it's an article that does make up an interesting point in that it is hard to bother with reading or watching any review on a "AAA" game because you pretty much know any "AAA" game is going to get at least an 8 unless the game is completely fucked.

Although, Jim was one of the very few guys that didn't just hand out 8s and he was actually on Metacritic for more people to see.

CritialGaming:
Shadow of War is in a grey spot right now. The true test will be the Star Wars Battlefront reviews. The Beta made a pretty big splash in terms of how fucking shitty the lootbox system is, and if we see reviewers simply gloss over them, or ignore them completely, you'll basically know that reviews of that game can't be trusted.

Can reviews be fixed? I'm not sure. It surely doesn't seem to matter because no matter how shitty of a business practice Star Wars will impose upon people, I don't know that it will do anything to stop these games from selling like hotcakes. It's very frustrating for me, as someone who loves to review and read reviews on games I'm on the fence of, I hate to see it fester as the shitshow it clearly is.

My issue more so with Shadow of War is why can't reviewers just not like Shadow of War because they're freaking tired of Arkham combat? Why can't reviewers just not like a mechanic that objectively works just because they don't like it? I don't really know the extent of the loot boxes with Shadow of War just due to being completely sick of Arkham combat that I'm not interested anyways. With regards to Battlefront, I think reviewers are overall terrible is reviewing online multiplayer, it seems like they just play a few matches to see if everything seems fine instead of getting into actually seeing if the guns, maps, perks, etc. are balanced. Thus, I don't think reviewers will fully understand how much or little the loot boxes of Battlefront will affect the actual game.

Xprimentyl:
I think reviews may not be obsolete...

Nope, to fix reviews, take the humans out of them. I want objectivity

The whole point of a review of ANYTHING is for the reviewer to express their OPINION. Objectivity in game reviews is the reason they are obsolete on the "professional" level. Errant Signal's review of Prey is so much than any professional review whether you agree or disagree with his opinion because it's an actual review.

Silentpony:
I haven't read a game review in years. I don't care what critics or reviewers think. It's an obsolete and inherently arrogant medium.

Then, why do you even post on a forum if giving opinions is inherently arrogant?

Phoenixmgs:

Silentpony:
I haven't read a game review in years. I don't care what critics or reviewers think. It's an obsolete and inherently arrogant medium.

Then, why do you even post on a forum if giving opinions is inherently arrogant?

Opinions are fine. Its the idea of a 'professional' opinion when it comes to entertainment is arrogant. AngryJoe's opinion should be just as relevant as AverageJoe's.
Like in the video i posted the idea is that they're opinions matter because of their reputation for having opinions that matter.

Silentpony:
I haven't read a game review in years. I don't care what critics or reviewers think. It's an obsolete and inherently arrogant medium.
This clip basically sums up what all critics think of themselves:

Tildamort is one of those few things that R34 exceptions should be made for.

Silentpony:
Opinions are fine. Its the idea of a 'professional' opinion when it comes to entertainment is arrogant. AngryJoe's opinion should be just as relevant as AverageJoe's.
Like in the video i posted the idea is that they're opinions matter because of their reputation for having opinions that matter.

A review is only as relevant as how much weight you put into that person's opinion. I'm not a fan of AngryJoe so his opinion isn't very relevant to me. I never really got the feeling of reviewers being arrogant more so than really anyone else because there's always some arrogance to any opinion as everyone feels they are "right" to some extent.

So he's still doing reviews, just not adhering to the traditional conclusion-based format (or numbering scale) and in a more informal or free opinion sense.

Probably the best route really. "Objectivity" was prettymuch a unicorn outside of stuff that was straight up and outright broken. Review scores were always a bit of a lazy toss up in the history of the medium. Half the time you'd read a review and then find the score strangely at odds with the actual thoughts and opinions expressed in detail. Then you also had the consistent barrage of people complaining about whatever scale you graded on.

inu-kun:

Darth Rosenberg:

inu-kun:
Jim... wasn't a very good reviewer to say the least (at least in the last years). His temper tantrum over Hellblade kinda epitomizes that.

Or, y'know, it demonstrated sincerity and transparency and that he was smart and modest enough to admit he made a mistake? Game reviews are subjective, after all, and his experience was subjectively broken initially.

erttheking:

What Darth said. I don't agree with CriticalGaming on how all reviewers are now garbage because they're not talking about microtransactions as much as he wants them to, but how would you want a reviewer encountering a game breaking bug? I spent six months doing freelance journalism and I encountered a game where the last three levels wouldn't load. I gave the game a 2. I was originally going to give it a six or a five (with five being an average game on the scale I was using) but after that I gave it a 2 and I don't regret it. I clarified which version of the game I was using just in case that was where the problem was, but I still stand by the 2 I gave that shit shit game.

There's no excuse for that temper tantrum, he could have waited for a fix (or contacted the devs to try to debug it/get a new save), watched other people play via youtube it or just replayed an already short game (I see a speedrun at 2 hours). Apologizing afterwards doesn't make it less display of childishness and laziness.

And I could have waited for a patch for the levels not loading in the game that I got. But life doesn't work that way. They was the review copy I was given, it didn't work, therefore I gave a review reflecting it. A game reviewers job is not to go out of their way to give a game the best possible score possible. If your game has a game breaking bug, that's a damn serious problem. A lot of times devs flat out don't patch games for problems, Homeworld Deserts of Kharak is getting downvoted on Steam because it still has bugs that were there when it was still released. So how long was Jim supposed to wait for the game to be debugged before he was allowed to complain about it? And by your logic, is he allowed to complain about bugs in general? And someone was able to speed run the game in two hours, well if Jim was a speed runner that would actually mean something. And if your defense of a game is that "well he could have gotten a good experience if he watched someone else playing it" you seem to have radically missed the point. Yes, he would. Because that would be a more ideal version of the game than what he played, but he didn't get the more ideal version of the game because he ran into a serious problem that ruined his experience. Reviewers give THEIR experience, not someone else's.

But whatever, you seem pretty determined to hate him and I know how you get when you're determined to hate someone. After all, I'm so sexist.

CritialGaming:
Snip

Yeah, I read the OP and what you said in the other thread, no need to rehash it.

This is kinda silly to me, honestly. The Jimpressions/WTF is... way of reviewing games is not adequate. Sometimes, the game needs to be played in full instead of just the first 2 hours in order to give an accurate look at the game's overall quality. Doing these kinds of reviews just does not allow that. Furthermore, Jimpressions is kind of a loose rambling way of reviewing it. Some people don't want to watch 20-30 mins of Jim screwing about and talking about his first impressions. It may be fine for a demo, but for a full review of a full game, it doesn't and won't work.

Didn't he just do a video on Shadow of War and how rushed reviews didn't do a very good job at breaking down the problems with the game because the lootbox grind for the real ending doesn't become apparent until the final act?

Wait...Jim actually did traditional reviewing?

I thought he was just a slower, more blunt less fun, version of ZP?

Professional game journalists are bought out, and random, rambling shitheads on Youtube are the future!

C'mon, what year is this? 2014?

The Rogue Wolf:
The problem with game reviews is that very few people these days use them to actually inform themselves about a game they're interested in; instead, they want reviews to buttress their already-formed opinions.

This is the simple and unfortunate truth.

Before the era of social media, the average reader realized his opinion actually doesn't matter to anyone but himself. And someone who had worked himself into a position where his opinions actually did matter... that was a person potentially worth listening to. Now any schmuck with an internet connection can create an online echo chamber for himself... that makes him seem like the center of his own universe. And if a reviewer (gasp) dares dislike something they like... "That reviewer is bias, who paying him off, I teh hatez all his revews (dislike... shitpost... etc)"

Whereas a more measured response would be "wow, I kind of liked that... oh well, he was right on about x... and x... and x... I'll continue to tune in." Or even "wow, that's the 3rd time in a row I've disagreed with his take. Perhaps I should look for another reviewer with tastes similar to mine."

It simply is as much or more a fault of the readers as it is reviewers.

erttheking:

And I could have waited for a patch for the levels not loading in the game that I got. But life doesn't work that way. They was the review copy I was given, it didn't work, therefore I gave a review reflecting it. A game reviewers job is not to go out of their way to give a game the best possible score possible. If your game has a game breaking bug, that's a damn serious problem. A lot of times devs flat out don't patch games for problems, Homeworld Deserts of Kharak is getting downvoted on Steam because it still has bugs that were there when it was still released. So how long was Jim supposed to wait for the game to be debugged before he was allowed to complain about it? And by your logic, is he allowed to complain about bugs in general? And someone was able to speed run the game in two hours, well if Jim was a speed runner that would actually mean something. And if your defense of a game is that "well he could have gotten a good experience if he watched someone else playing it" you seem to have radically missed the point. Yes, he would. Because that would be a more ideal version of the game than what he played, but he didn't get the more ideal version of the game because he ran into a serious problem that ruined his experience. Reviewers give THEIR experience, not someone else's.

And he was in the minority in getting it. If it was a bug that affected everyone then I'd agree that it's a fair warning (even if he himself repaired the score afterwards to something better, meaning he knows he overreacted) but he could have easily resolved the problem in about 2 hours.

This action shows a person as entitled and patientless as well as a reviewer rushing in to put reviews for clicks rather than actually taking the a fucking day to relax and realize ("hey it's a short game, let's just rush through it again")

Reviews died the day the internet decided it wanted "objectivity" because people are sociopaths who don't understand their own words.

Xprimentyl:
Nope, to fix reviews, take the humans out of them. I want objectivity, Jim Sterling did a wonderful spoof of a purely objective review and I thought it was perfect. Exaggerated, of course, but more in line with what I?d prefer than anything any other reviewer has done.

I mean, he made that video purely to take the piss out of the concept of an unbiased, objective review, since a review is inherently biased by the person writing it. If you don't consider personal opinion in a review, it's not a review, it's a description.

Reviews died for a number of reasons:

1) Let's plays, and screaming streamers are more profitable.
2) Written things have generally lost market share to video and podcasts. (low attention span of of the modern age)
3) Certain reviewers causing controversy for clicks and infamy.
4) (flip side of 3) Certain fan bases being ridiculously overly sensitive to opinion.

DaCosta:
Professional game journalists are bought out, and random, rambling shitheads on Youtube are the future!

C'mon, what year is this? 2014?

I don't think professional reviews are bought out, it's that professional reviewers think games are supposed to be objectively reviewed. A professional reviewer can't just dislike a game because they just don't like it because that's wrong for some reason. Why can't Shadow of War get a negative review just because the reviewer is sick of Arkham combat or just never liked it to begin with? Just go to Metacritic and look at all the games that don't have a single negative review, it's pretty unbelievable actually. How am I supposed to find a reviewer that has similar likes and dislikes as I do when there are no dislikes? Jim was one of the few reviewers that did properly review a game giving a game a bad score if he didn't like it; however, Jim wasn't a good reviewer for me because we rarely shared similar opinions. There's literally one negative review for Final Fantasy XIII and guess what? That's Jim's review. There was more review variance back in the day with EGM's 3 reviewer format than there is with 100+ reviews now. That's a complete failure of professional criticism for the gaming medium. And yes, there are a SMALL handful on people on Youtube that easily outdo any professional reviewer due to the bar being so goddamn low.

inu-kun:

This action shows a person as entitled and patientless as well as a reviewer rushing in to put reviews for clicks rather than actually taking the a fucking day to relax and realize ("hey it's a short game, let's just rush through it again")

If you buy a game you are entitled to a game that works, that's a basic sale of goods right. You shouldn't be expected to wait until the product you bought on the promise it would work starts working any more than the game shop should let you have the game and wait patiently for your money.

Jim could have got in touch with the company and sorted it out, or waited for the game to be fixed, but as someone who bought a defective product that's not actually something he's required to do as a consumer and reviewer. If he gets software and it doesn't work he's well within his rights to pan it for not working, even if he did cool off and then change the review.

I know 'entitled' is an Internet thing but that only works in the case of free/community stuff people are doing out of the goodness of their hearts, when a sale comes in and as long as your expectation is reasonable then yeah, you are entitled to that.

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here