Are game reviews paid for?

What am I talking about?

There has been speculation in the gaming community for years that certain websites, namely, IGN, have received payment to positively review a video game. For obvious reasons this has raised some eyebrows and has created a lack of trust between consumers and reviewers. The review sites have obviously denied taking money for good reviews but it can sometimes be pretty obvious if the consumer actually reads the reviews. Reviews will be relatively unbiased pointing out the good and the bad. However, sometimes there are a decent number of flaws with the game mentioned in the text but the bottom line and what most consumers look at is the high score given to the game.

Is that our fault or theirs?

The poor ethical decision of the website is, of course, on them. That being said, the consumer is at least partially at fault if they base their purchase on the score of the review without reading the article. (Think MetaCritic scores.) It is easy to see a review and jump to the conclusion that it must be good or bad depending on the score because everyone assumes that a journalistic website would operate on a higher level of ethical decision making and be honest with their consumers. That is why I would recommend visiting to several review websites and reading at least a few of the full articles. (After all, the writers did work hard on those.)


GamerGate may have started as a few people against a few people. But, however it started, it became a huge conflict between the gaming community and the press that was covering their favorite hobby. Essentially, in September 2014, the gaming community was pushed to the limit by the amount of seemingly corrupt policies being used by what should be trusted sources such as Kotaku (Gawker). Erik Kain said it best for Forbes,

“In the end, it’s about gamers upset with the status quo and demanding something better. It’s about a group of consumers and enthusiasts not simply feeling that their identity is threatened, but believing that they’re being poorly represented by an industry and press that grow more and more cliquish and remote every year. And it’s about the ad hoc, messy series of uncoordinated events that got us here.”

Since then policies have changed and companies have been more transparent if there is a potential conflict of interest between their writers and editors, but the trust has never fully recovered.

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