Video games are always changing, as is the way they are marketed to people. Messaging and the conversations around a game prior to launch are things companies are eager to control. There are many ways this is done, and one of them is by avoiding pre-launch reviews.
Whether you like it or not traditional video game reviews are being de-emphasized by publishers. Avoiding pre-launch reviews means there can be more control over the types of discussions being had about a game. A lack of pre-launch reviews is something that isn’t changing anytime soon. Personally, it’s only going to become more of the norm among publishers.
Bethesda Softworks is a prime example of a publisher not wanting to send early review copies of their games to press. They did this with Doom last year, and the test ended up working out in their favor. Bethesda’s Pete Hines spoke about not sending out early review copies of Doom last year.
“People weren’t really sure. People questioned, ‘why didn’t you send out review copies early?’ and ‘Oh, this is a big warning flag’ – no, we had our reasons and we told you what they were, and you can believe us or not. But to my point, we had confidence in the game, we knew they had something good, and that’s what people think of Doom now,” Hines told GI.
In this situation, it’s easy to use hindsight and say, “see? We were right. You should trust us because we were right there.” The fact is though, companies do ship games that aren’t complete, have game-disrupting bugs or are downright broken. As a result, blind or complete trust will never exist between gamers and companies.
It depends on your own preference, but there’s always the possibility that a game, no matter the company or the franchise, isn’t something you should spend money on. Reviews help decipher that. Whether we’re talking about the marketing around the game, the quality of a game or if it is any good, there are a number of factors to think about before buying a game.
While it may only be Bethesda that is abandoning pre-release reviews, I believe there are a number of publishers that will follow suit in the coming months. This isn’t surprising and it’s a trend that won’t be changing. It will be growing soon. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on video games.