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EVE Online

the opinion of the masses

I feel obliged to fight for the honour of games reviewers (in a limp-wristed non-fighty way*) after reading Blinky’s latest blog entry, which points to a post on the EVE forums where an old review of EVE has resurfaced. The review, from Gamespot in 2003, rated EVE with a rather low 6.6 score out of ten, which has earned it – as it probably did back in 2003 – the ire of the faithful, as well as the contempt of those who believe games reviewers to be either terminally corrupt or blatantly incompetent. Or both.

I can only really speak for myself in this defence but I’ve reviewed EVE three or four times over the years, all of them before my tenure as EON editor. A couple of reviews were for PCZone (89% at time of release, 91% after Exodus – neither of which appear to be online to view, although an old preview of mine is). I also wrote a review for PC Gamer in the US (again after Exodus). I stand behind all of them. I stand behind every review I have ever written. Even my Star Wars Galaxies one

A review is no different to any other opinion. An opinion can be arrived at at different times by different people. The only difference with a review is that it’s by nature a more crafted opinion, and one that has hopefully earned some remuneration by way of manufacture.

It’s true that online games should require a far larger time investment that any other game in order to form an opinion. Sadly reviewers are paid only on their pre-approved output and not on their input. That was the case in 2003 and remains the case in 2008. Either the system should be changed, or the reviewer, fearing they may not be able to give the game the required attention, should decline the commission.

In the case of EVE, I know of no-one that was ever given special treatment or high-end gear in order to help them complete their review. When a game is launched there shouldn’t be any need to. Expansions are more difficult because they tip the balance toward high-end gameplay; where in-game advancement is a prerequisite to being able to amass opinion. Hopefully by that point a publication will have someone embedded – an in-house fan – who will know what is going on. Sadly PCZone lost theirs when he was asked to edit an EVE magazine.

As Blinky correctly says, things are a little different these days, but not by much. Being first with a review is no longer the big deal it once was, but being first with information is. MMO Reviews don’t actually count for much in this day and age, but interviews and first impressions do. Taken as a first impression – which is all a review of a newly-launched MMO can be, the Gamespot “review” is a good one. I suspect a typical reviewer thrown into EVE today would have similar opinions of it. As has been said since 2003, EVE isn’t for everyone.

As much as the review might suggest how much EVE has changed for those of us who’ve been a part of the evolution, it probably hasn’t changed enough for those who haven’t. Greg Kasavin, the author of the Gamespot review, is now working at EA. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not touched EVE since and he probably has no desire to. I’ve not played Galaxies since I reviewed it. Go figure.

*Also obliged to write a blog entry, since it has been a little while ;)



5 thoughts on “the opinion of the masses

  1. I have nothing against reviewers as people, but I wholeheartedly believe that the common systems of rating and reviewing games are faulty to their cores and need to be analyzed and overhauled. A good step would be to remove scores entirely, or at least have a very vague scoring system like the stars using commonly for movie reviews. Secondly, gamers need to stop taking reviews so seriously and treat them as the semi-educated opinion of another gamer… which is exactly what they are.

    Play the game yourself.

    Posted by PsycheDiver | October 26, 2008, 2:48 pm
  2. Why is it when people have a beef about reviews, the scoring system is the main focus of contention? All a score is is an arbitrary number picked from a scale to place the game in some kind of context with editorial policy. If the system is “faulty to the core”, switching stars for percentages is hardly a sweeping purge of all that is evil in your eyes.

    The problem is not with people expressing their views, semi-educated or otherwise. The problem is that there’s a perceived lack of integrity on the part of the reviewer: That they have been bribed, or their words changed to satiate advertisers or to tempt future exclusives. In that respect, as the Gamespot episode from 2007 seemed to demonstrate, your views have foundation, but just because someone is paid to give an opinion, doesn’t make it one that is corrupt or less valid.

    Opinion is based on experiences and to dismiss an experience is to deny the reality of it. I stand by mine and I’m lucky and privileged that some people hold stock in them. There are also opinions I respect, others I don’t, but whose words I just enjoy reading. I try to make my own reviews come across more like experiences. I don’t always succeed, but that’s a matter of opinion :)

    Posted by Zapatero | October 26, 2008, 3:36 pm
  3. @ Zap

    Ye, I agree. I mean everyone has their beliefs on what is good and what is bad. Just like how a handshake somewhere in the world is offensive. The scoring system can be completely reversed or tweaked around and the reviewer will still give out their same opinion.

    Reviews should just be a guide to what is going on in the game and describe it’s activities/play styles instead of having opinions and critics criticizing the game. Then people should really experience the game for themselves and only base the review as a guide to what the game is like.

    Anyways, ratings are overrated eh =]

    Posted by Tony | October 26, 2008, 8:21 pm
  4. In the end, games are pretty subjective, I like it doesn’t mean the person next to me will. And some people need to stop being offended when others don’t agree with them

    Posted by Mobius | October 29, 2008, 12:51 am
  5. This is another old review that is interesting to read. It asserts that after one has been in the game a while they will be able to play a Jove character. http://www.gamesfirst.com/index.php?id=588

    Posted by Ahnog | November 5, 2008, 8:16 pm

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