Coffee Talk #44: The Disconnect Between Game Critics and Gamers

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Barry Bonds’ agent saying the slugger’s career is over (duh), the Yankees trying to sign Johnny Damon (why?!?), or how much longer “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels will continue to perform for the WWE, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

As I was watching this excellent Dante’s Inferno developer diary, I started thinking about the disconnect between game critics and gamers. Some writers are just out of touch with what gamers want and expect. Part of it comes from getting too many free games for too many years, which makes some writers forget that paying $60 for a game is a lot of money for many consumers.

Dantes Inferno 2

In other cases, some critics are too busy being critical to remember what’s fun. Dante’s Inferno is a great example of this. A lot of writers are already down on this game, dismissing it as a God of War rip-off. They’re thinking, “This is crap. It’s just like God of War.” At this year’s San Diego Comic Con, one of my friends was telling me that a lot of the people that saw the game at EA’s booth said things like, “This is cool! It’s just like God of War!” Funny how it goes….

What’s your opinion on game reviewers? Do you think a lot of them are out of touch? Or do you think most of them are spot on? Do you think that some reviewers forget what it’s like to be a paying gamer? If so, does it have a negative impact on their reviews?

Author: RPadTV

101 thoughts on “Coffee Talk #44: The Disconnect Between Game Critics and Gamers”

  1. I don't like thevterm ripoff as far as games go. For awhile all sandbox games were GTA clones and with God of War being a good game, any title that is third person, violent, and tries to deliver a good narrative is called a clone. If I'm not mistaken God of War isn't the first 3rd person over the top action game. If you think so then you should play "Sword of the Berserk" on dreamcast.

    I think a vast majority of reviewers are snobs who propel themselves into some kind of elitist status for whatever reason. I imagine most are like the know it all punks at gamestop (idiots) or like the player who knows everything about WoW and will tell you why everything you know and do is wrong.

    Back to first paragraph, can we now call all epic, awesome, funny, great graphics, good story, superb voice acting an Uncharted 2 clone?

  2. How long have people compared FPSs to Halo? Even ODST was compared to Halo as if it was a rip off of Halo. (WTF are they smoking?) I read and heard in many reviews of ODST how they complained, or at least talked down, about the stamina system in the game as a rip off of the shield system. Seriously, who cares? All that matters is whether the game is good or not. So yeah, allot of reviewers are out of touch with gamers(, and in some cases reality).

  3. It has to be like a 50/50 toss up between critics and consumers. Of course I feel the same about reviewers too but that's a different topic. And you're pretty much right Ray, a lot of them must forget that $60 is a lot of money. Heck I'm pretty sure that I'm gonna be solely living of ramen noodles from Jan-April considering all the titles I wanna purchas for the ps3 alone. So when I really wanna make a purchase off the bat before the reviews come in, I have to do some research. Then hope I can exchange it back for full price before the week. Anyway…

    Maybe eventually they'll start listening to more of what the gamers would say before being too critical. It can have an impact on reviews. B/c I'm sure there are tons of people who won't purchase a game til the see what Metacritic, Ign, 1up and blah blah everyone says.

    As for Gamestop employees, apparently I'm lucky, even living in this rathole of a state. They few employees that work at the one I frequent actually have opinions and comments that vary from each other about particular games and genres so I can communicate with them w/o a lot of flack and flaming.

  4. I look at video game critics the same way I look at movie critics. I used to watch Siskel & Ebert and/or Roeper and I don't think I have ever agreed with them on a movie. Generally what they like are the movies that will win awards, but are not what I would consider entertaining. Like video games yeah its great and all if it is innovative or a good storyline or great graphics, but if it isn't well executed and worth my money then it wasnt a good game. Reviewers, especially those that look at pieces rather than the whole, are just full of bull.

    I just have to go out and rent the game if I am unsure.

  5. It really does depend on the reviewer. I have certain sites that I generally trust their word. Often times I have liked a game most reviewers didn't and the other way around so it really depends on my taste. I'm at a point now where I can tell pretty good if I'm going to like a game before it comes out. being informed can save you a lot of money these days.

    I know I give games leeway when I've rented them in the past. I could only imagine how my opinion of a game might differ if I was just handed a copy.

    In the past I've been frustrated with reviewers griping too much about technical issues. My first importance is for a game to be fun. However, as I've gotten older I've become a critic myself. I hate technical flaws and other elements that can rip you out of the engaging experience.

  6. I, for one, hope that there is no (or very little) disconnect between game reviewers and me because the time I have to play games is few and precious. I cannot afford to waste valuable time on crappy games. To this end, I only buy and play games that are universally praised. Unfortunately, this method prevents me from playing the lesser-known great games that are brushed aside for the much-hyped AAA titles.

    On a related topic, most of you guys have convinced me to play Dragon Age by reading most of the posts and Mr. Padilla's articles. If I had never ventured onto this site, I can guarantee you that I probably would have never played the game. Here's looking forward to some time in 2010.


  7. @Iceman I'm going to show this comment to BioWare's Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk one day. This should convince one or both of them to lend me $5…though it will probably be in Canadian dollars.

  8. i dont care about what review scores critics give. i only read their review and i just skip the score. like what ray said many moons ago, the best system for reviews should be "buy it", "rent it", or "eff it".

    BROKEN SWORD FTW!!!! i regretted my whole gaming life that i didn't finish that epic game.


    whats the best specialization for a mage in dragon age? shapesifting is to meh for me.

  9. @rbee90 It depends how you want to play, really. Like you, I don't think much of shapeshifting. Arcane Warrior can be pretty ridiculous. Spirit Healer can be incredibly useful for survivability.

  10. @Shockwave

    Not until you mentioned it did I realize I do the same as far as analyzing the technical aspects of the game.

    I am always pointing out pop-ups, textures rendering very late even in cut scenes (halo), & clipping issues. I do it more when I am already not having fun with a game or forced to sit through cut scenes.

  11. I've addressed this before on here. I'm disconnected from all professional critics of all media for several personal reasons. You guys are my best hope and even then… I'm just giving you guys the benefit of the enormous doubt.

    Here's an example of the kind of gamer I am:

    I like a game to be extremely long. More hours of gameplay per dollar.

    I haven't liked a COD game since COD2.

    I enjoy an accurate historical storyline.

    I'm not in to doing anything magical, yet in real life I know several street magic illusions. I can pick your pocket and change all the $1 bills in your wallet to $20. I learned illusionism to help my stage presence as a musician… it helped more than I thought it would.

    I like super powers… even in crappy games.

    I like a roller coaster of difficulty. Please, blindside me. I'll love it.

    I don't care about the graphics as long as the gameplay is smooth.

    I've played at least one racing game, so I feel like I've played them all.

    I don't want to wait to make my move. If I did, I'd play chess (I won tournaments in high school).

    I think the new SMB looks awesome.

    I'm 50/50 on motion controls. There's a time and a place for me.

    I like constructive games. i.e. Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is half cool. I just spend hours in the garage building stuff. I like the building side of Sim City, but could care less for the governing. When I do govern, I'm tyrannical to say the least.

    I can wait for games to drop in price. I owe my patience to my mom.

    I can replay GTA4 100 different ways and have fun (playing Gay Tony right now).

    I'm not a homophobe, I only use the word gay in positive ways.

    I'd rather play real guitar than Guitar Hero (however, since I can't play drums in real life, I've had fun on the vdrums in the past)

    All that said, how is any critic gonna help me?

  12. First off, Dante's Inferno IS a God of War rip off. You can't dismiss the eerily similar game play and features. That's not a bad thing though. If Dante's Inferno turns out to be good, which I'm sure it will because it's from the studio who made Dead Space, then I'll buy it. I think that EA knows this game is looking too much like a God of War clone and I think that's why they are giving the PS3 owners the demo early(today) and giving PS3 owners the Divine Edition(collector's edition) of the game for free.

    As far as reviewers go, I'm seeing more and more fanboyism from the smaller sites.

  13. @RRODisHere Well that's the thing, the term "rip-off" has a negative connotation. I don't see how a game imitating aspects of a great series is bad thing.

    Also, email me back so I can send you your magnet!

  14. @RROD

    God of War is a ripoff of Sword of the Berserk. 3rd person over the top violent. That isn't a bad thing.

  15. @rpad

    how cud someone be an arcane warrior if their strength and dex arent enough to carry tir 3 weapons? well, might as well be a healer then, its useful, and practical.

  16. @RROD – ya heavenly sword was a GOW ripoff and I still thought it was pretty good. except for the aftertouch stuff anyway. Actually I just didn't like playing the sister at all.

    as far as the fanboyism goes I hear you. I don't think it's any more prevalent than it ever was though. last gen the Xbox seemed to get the most criticism and this time around it seems to be the PS3 more. that's just a generalization from what I've seen.

  17. Let's take the "rip-off" thing into perspective:

    Tekken is a rip-off of Virtua-Fighter

    COD is a rip-off of Goldeneye

    Dr. Mario is a rip-off of Tetris

    GTA3 is a rip-off of Driver 2.

    So on and so forth… it's really not a bad thing.

  18. @Smartguy

    I know you don't like the term "rip off" but Dante's Inferno is almost exactly like God of War from the power and magic bar looking the same and being in the same place to the orbs that gravitate towards you when you kill something to the big boss battles to the QTE's. One can't overlook that. And no, making a game with "epic, awesome, funny, great graphics, good story, superb voice acting" is not an Uncharted 2 clone but if you make a game with Indiana Jones style game play, platforming, searching for treasure, with a male protagonist with a female partner/love interest with "epic, awesome, funny, great graphics, good story, superb voice acting" is an Uncharted 2 clone.

  19. I'm with N8R – I think rip-off is the wrong term. Ideas are borrowed all the time. It's not such a bad thing in this industry. If you can make an original game using a premise that people know and like you could really have something going for you. Saint's Row 2 is a GTA rip-off in so many ways but also I consider it a better game than GTA4 in many ways. it just depends on my mood.

    Besides, if it wasn't for rip-offs we wouldn't have Avatars, XBL, PSN, Trophies/Achievements, built-in HDDs and many other standard items in gaming today.

  20. @Smartguy

    How is God of War similar to Sword of the Berserk?

    @Raymond Padilla

    I'll email you today.

  21. @RROD

    I see where you are coming from, but God of War can't be the standard bearer for 3rd person violent action. It's just a sub genre. Alot of these reviewers just use something recent in order to describe the game because they lack the skills to do it otherwise. Conundrum.

    As far as your dissection of my UC2 statement…then can't we call UC and UC2 Metal Gear Solid clones/ripoffs?

  22. #Rbee – I'm usually the warrior not the mage in these types of games but I've got to admit my mage play-through has been the most satisfying. They have the most diverse set of abilities and attacks if you ask me

  23. @RROD

    Have you ever played Sword of the Berserk? Devil May Cry? Onimusha?

    God of War takes from all three of those titles. It mostly takes from Berserk though.

  24. @rbee90 Blood mage/arcane warrior is probably the deadliest offensive combo in the entire game. Once you hit level 14, it's possible to beat the rest of the game solo with this combo.

  25. @Shockwave

    Yes, Heavenly Sword ripped off a lot of God of War's features too. Did you not think that I would admit that because it's a PS3 exclusive? Heavenly Sword was good(just too short) so I bought it just like I'll buy Dante's Inferno if it's good.

  26. I remember back in the day when every "sandbox" style game was a GTA clone, or ripoff, or whatever. Today sandbox games are their own genre.

    same with WW2 shooters, there was a time when Medal of honor was it and now it has it's own genre. It's not surprising that GOW has created it's own 3rd person, action, fighting, QTE, genre

  27. @shockwave

    exactly, and i like the specializations in mages better, its just i find them too complicated(except for the shapeshifting, which is kinda boring for me). im a warrior type too, my first character was FOGDAR, son of CROGDAR

  28. @RROD – my point is that there are about 5 or 6 GOW clones nowadays. at what point are there enough of them that we create a new genre?

  29. @Raymond Padilla

    OK, I get the clone and rip off having different connotations to them but:


    Would you consider Quantum Theory a Gears of War clone or a Gears of War rip off?

  30. About the only thing I consider a ripoff or clone is the crap shovelware on the Wii. Granted, party games that are chock full of mini games are a genre….but once you play one…you play them all…at least on Wii.

  31. @Shockwave562 Same here. I had the most fun (gameplay wise) with my mage. I was also totally cheap, using area-of-effect attacks on enemies that couldn't see me. That reminded me of cheapie tactics I used in Baldur's Gate, taking advantage of the whole "fog of war" thing.

  32. @RROD

    Snake= male protagonist, has some one liners, epic story…love interest in Meryl. Instead of archaeology it is black ops. Still one person vs Bad guy(s)

    Nathan Drake = male protagonist, one liners, epic story, love interest in the blonde (can't recall her name). Uses archaeology instead of covert ops. One guy vs the bad guy(s).

    Both at the time had the most amazing visuals, voice acting, etc.

    This begs another question related to the original topic…can we call games ripoffs/clones of movies and tv and vice versa?

  33. @smartguy

    mini games…they're only good in JRPG's…the best and addicting mini game in an rpg was that card game in FF8, triple triad. ha! i still remember

  34. Let me rephrase that.

    Would you guys call Quantum Theory a Gears of War CLONE?


    Would you guys call Quantum Theory a Gears of War RIP OFF?

    Does the word clone or rip off come to you mind first?

  35. @RPAd – area of affect spells were the best. not to mention the Mana Crush on other Mages. That one got me my 250hp Achievement 3 times over with one hit.

    I the area attacks were a little hard to manage on the 360 because It's harder to see the battlefield so it's easy to get your own characters. Only way I could use them is if it was on enemies that hadn't seen us yet

  36. @Smartguy

    Are you seriously comparing a stealth game to an action/platformer? I don't get it.

  37. @RROD – I don't know which to call it but who knows. I mean, you can't say Gears owns 3rd person shooting with cover tactics.

    However, The same war torn setting, HUD, character models, visuals (i.e. blood and gun fire)… it's hard to ignore all of that

  38. @RROD

    Yep. The similarities are there in the narrative and some gameplay elements. Point is for me I can't stand something being labeled a clone or ripoff. I think that fault lies mostly in the commenter or writer who can't use the english language well enough to describe what they see besides drawing some huge similarity to a well established franchise. I think it is harmful to the industry on top of it.

  39. you know with these ripoffs we are talking a lot about games that are exclusives. I wouldn't be so surprised if an xbox exclusive came out that seemd like Uncharted now. Also, I think Quantum Theory may be more popular on the PS3 for those who didn't get a chance to play gears. I also think Dante's Inferno may be more popular on the 360 because they don't have the option of GOW. I for one am glad for Splinter Cell which some people consider to be the rip off MGS for Xbox owners

  40. @Rpad – I'm embarrassed to admit this but I've played the game 3 times and I don't know who Gaxkang is. lol

  41. @Shockwave

    Good points. I read that another Tomb Raider game is in the works and I'm pretty sure M$ will at the very least work out an exclusive DLC deal with that game just like the last one to try to combat not having an Uncharted on the Xbox. I wouldn't be surprised if they try to get the whole Tomb Raider game exclusive even though it's not in the same league as Uncharted. That reminds me, I remember when Uncharted was called a Tomb Raider rip off. Also, I've read from multiple sources who played it at E3 that Quantum Theory is not a good game. I don't think it will be popular on the PS3 and certainly not the Xbox because they have Gears. I agree about Dante's Inferno being more popular on the Xbox than PS3 for obvious reasons.

  42. @RROD – Ya first time I saw Quantum Theory was a few days ago. can't say I'm impressed but I only sort of like Gears anyway. As far as Tomb Raider goes Xbox can do what they want. That whole series needs a revamp if you ask me. The last 2 or 3 Tomb raiders are the poor man's Uncharted 2, really.

    @RPad- thanks to the wiki I've read up on Daxkang. I guess he is sort of easy to miss if you're not paying attention. Damn Dragon Age is huge. I know who I'm killing this weekend. I made a smart decision and saved each of my games before the land's meet. for stuff like this

  43. @Raymond Padilla

    You should do a Coffee Talk about the historical amount of good games coming out in Q1 2010 and how we can afford them all.

  44. @RRODisHere I actually have that on tap for the week after next. Next week is going to be all about US!

    @Shockwave562 He's definitely worth fighting. He drops a good sword (always) and the best shield in the game (sometimes).

  45. Matchmaking is garbage. Takes way too long to find a lobby and to get other players in it. Never had that issue with the first one.

    Dunno where N8R is. Maybe making an offering to whomever that Pitt doesn't fall to Cleveland.

  46. im not much of a football fan, im more of a basketball and ping pong fan, hahaha. though i watch "some" football games in the season. depends on my mood, haha

  47. Sorry guys, I was stuck on guesshermuff.

    I totally forgot the Steeler game was tonight… I hope Hines is healthy.

  48. I'm not starting Ward tonight. Might be gimpy. Unless he says ge is fine in pre game.

    GHM huh? Good time sink.

  49. @Clone/Ripoff – final word on clone or ripoff.

    When you break everything down to it's core fundamentals, nothing is really original, it's just variations on a theme (except for Katamari Damacy, I have no clue what that can possibly have cloned from). Pokemon is baseball cards, Uncharted is Pitfall, and Shooters are Pong. Acknowledging something as being a clone means it is essentially the same as the original, which in the case of Dante's would only be a plus.

  50. @Topic: I think that some reviewers do take the fact they get games for free somewhat for granted. But certainly not all. Being down on something because it's "like" something else is understandable for fear that it won't stand on it's own 2 feet.

    But just because Bayonetta looks a lot like Devil May Cry, or because Dante's Inferno looks a lot like God of War, that shouldn't doom the game to a bad score. If the game is not good on the other hand, or if it is broken, then that's different.

    But there's also no doubt that many reviewer's own personal biases get in the way. Like Tim Schaffer and Metal? You might be willing to overlook Brutal Legend's shortcomings. Like killing Zombies? Left 4 Dead 2 seems pretty good then even if the campaigns are uneven in quality. The trick is knowing when you're feeling a bias for something and being able to put it aside and look at a game as objectively as possible.

    In my opinion, the bigger concern for me is going to a site and seeing a game get a really high score….and then seeing ads for said game all over the website in question. I'm looking at you IGN………….

  51. @Ray: There's a bit of a disconnect between those two points: "Don't worry about it" and "It happened to me." I think considering you're not the first person I've heard of stuff like that happening to, I'll tend to remain skeptical. Especially when certain sites always seem to give higher scores to the games that they've got ads for.

  52. @Ray

    I was curious. I had a shopping cart already done at amazon, but was waiting before I actually made the purchase. So last night I loaded up rpadtv and went to amazon and simply paid.

  53. @Nightshade386 There's not a disconnect at all. I've worked at a bunch of place and only had an issues with ad sales at one. I also know a ton of editors in the business and they were shocked to hear what happened to me. It's not the norm.

    @Smartguy Hmmm, I wonder if it would work then. *shrug* I guess I'll find out in the next few days.

  54. @RROD;

    People are talking about you quite a bit on the other site. The "NPD Analysis" article in particular. Some of it is pretty funny. You're famous, dude.


  55. @Mr. Padilla;

    Take the $5 Canadian. It's going to be worth more than the dollar soon. A good investment if you ask me.


  56. @Iceman

    It seems you're right. My name is still mentioned a lot over there even though I haven't posted there in weeks. That's how you know when some people take this stuff way to seriously.

  57. @Ray: You've gotta admit, anything that looks like that big of a conflict of interest, probably isn't a good idea. And there's no doubt that with certain sites, there's a pretty obvious correlation between review score and advertising money. It's usually not enough to score a game that deserved a 6 as a 9, but it might get a 7 or 7.5 that it doesn't deserve according to the vast majority of other sites. Once or twice, I'll take that as "reviewer's opinion". Consistent trends however, scream of something less ethical. With reviewers getting let go right after giving a low review score on highly advertised game, once is all it takes.

  58. @Nightshade386 I disagree that ads should be a concern for readers. For the most part, editors don’t care or don’t notice what ads are on their site. Ad sales and editorial are completely separate for the most part. That said, I worked at a place where a column was pulled and a review score was changed because ad sales made it so. I left that place with no regrets.

  59. Anyway: Site Suggestion. Well, really more of a Community building suggestion.

    Game w/ R-Pad weekend. Saturday night on XBL, Sunday night on PSN.

    (Ray: If you don't wanna give out your real tags, I'm pretty sure new memberships of XBL come with a free Gold trial, and a new PSN tag is free anyway. Just a thought.)

  60. @Nightshade;

    Great idea, but I'm going to have to bow out since I am not online with any of my consoles. Mooching off of your neighbors' internet does have it's advantages, though.

    Dumbasses had their WEP password as "12345". I love living in an apartment complex. And to all you "Chaotic do-gooders", don't worry; I'll be moving into my own home in about a month or two and I'll be paying for my own internet access.

    (*shakes fist violently*) Damn you, Comcast!!!


  61. The Jeff Gerstman/Kane & Lynch controversy over at Gamespot makes them seem pretty fishy to name one. And IGN's often seems to have slightly higher scores than everyone else when they've got the ads plastered all over their site. Ironically the games they have the most ads for they usually also seem to get the reviews out first. Just saying it seems pretty damn convenient.

  62. @Nightshade

    I found it fishy that Fable 2 ads was plastered on the G4 site and then X-Play gave Fable 2 the GOTY award.

  63. @RRoD: I liked Fable 2 a lot. I would have picked Fallout 3 for GotY, but I think that it wasn't as misguided a pick as a lot of other people thought. It was certainly a surprisingly addictive game considering how "easy" it was. Maybe that was the point. IDK.

  64. I'd think tv ads would be more telling. Then again, I have no idea how profitable their website is.

  65. i liked Fable 2 more than Fallout3. It was just a fun game. I didn't expect a thirty hour epic. Just a good game.

    On that note, I wouldn't be sad if Arkham Asylum beat out UC2 this year.

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