Aion had barely taken flight before the reviews poured in.Aion had barely taken flight before the reviews poured in.
There are people in every camp. 
Some believe that the ten-point scale is good enough and accomplishes
what it sets out to, others believe that a number is really too shallow
of an indicator for the quality of a game, and some believe that no
scoring system is needed and that a review should rely solely on its
content.  I personally have always been fond of the “Buy It,
Rent It, Burn It” approach as a summation of the general tone of a

But the process of tallying up a game’s
plusses and minuses as to make a recommendation to prospective customers
on said game’s worth is a really weighty idea when you think about
it.  Reviewers are charged with the task of determining whether
several dozen (or sometimes one hundred plus) people’s work is worth
your time and dollar.  Reviewers can make or break a game’s release
and seal the fate of development studios. 

But most modern console or offline games
are released these days as complete products that will rarely change
from the product they are on launch day with the exception of bug fixes
and purchasable or free downloadable content.  MMOGs, on the other
hand, are always changing beasts of patching and content upgrades that
are rarely the same the day they launch as the day the company had the
instruction manual printed.  Look no further than World of Warcraft’s
manual for proof of that. 

I'm sure Cryptic would like to shoot a few reviewers...I'm sure Cryptic would like to shoot a few reviewers...
So is it fair then for us to treat MMOGs
the same as any other software release?  Should a type of game
that is widely accepted to be a perpetual work in progress ever really
be assigned a score that does not have an asterisk next to it denoting
it as such?  Take for instance the Eurogamer review of
Aion: The Tower of Eternity.  Now truthfully, the game had been out
for months in Asian territories, before being ported to the US. 

But there are factors that should be taken into account before assigning
a score.  The dust should settle after a game’s launch and early
buzz before a score, if any is really needed, is assigned.  It’s
no secret that MMOGs change drastically in the first few months of the
game’s launch, either for better or worse.  And yet the same
site published a review on The Wrath of the Lich King just a few days
after its launch.  Champions Online was assigned the score of 6/10
just a week after it launched.  In the past few weeks I
could note about a dozen changes to Cryptic’s game that could raise
or lower that score depending on the person. 

But one thing that Eurogamer and other
review sites are getting right when it comes to reviewing these online
games is that they deserve to be revisited.  Re-reviewing games
at the one year mark is an excellent practice that should garner more
attention from the public eye.  I was a big supporter of Warhammer
Online when it launched last year, but as I got into the upper reaches
of the game, the luster wore off for me.  I have recently begun
playing the game again with the changes that are on the Public Test
Server, and suddenly I find myself enthralled again.  The changes
of the past six months since I played are enough to have me questioning
why I left in the first place.

What is the point of this lengthy diatribe
of mine?  It’s simple, really.  As media, we influence the
opinion of people more than we might care to admit.  And when it
comes to reviewing games, and especially MMOGs, we have the power to
ruin lives and careers with the simple writing of a number.  I
propose a new code of reviewing when it comes to online games: Beta
during the Open Beta stage (which is largely a PR stunt
these days anyway), First Impressions within a week of launch,
and no review until at least three months in, with periodic re-reviews
on the anniversary of each game as it’s warranted.  Even better, just follow the format lined out in Ethec's recent episode of "Loading...".

The main reasoning behind such early
reviews is mainly for attention-seeking and page-views that come with
people rabid for info on a new release, so why not get those same page-views
and level of attention in a more responsible way?  Remember…
only YOU can prevent job losses.  Okay, that’s not entirely
true.  A turd is still a turd, but even fecal matter deserves a
fair chance to get its feet planted before being gored by those with
hefty opinions.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016