Computer Gaming World: De-starred

The cat is out of the bag that Computer Gaming World is dropping review scores in favor of longer and more in-depth articles.

Bravo! Bravo! Give the man a Whiskas Tasty Temptations treat!

I applaud the move by CGW. I think the decision makes some good business sense and adds value to the magazine in the face of all the insta-review websites out there. I’m not one much for the print games media considering the ease (and cost) of online sites, but if you’re going to put that extra thought and effort into the reviews and articles then I’ll be willing to subscribe or pick it off the stand.



Yeah, and Tom also linked that thread in his article.

Cool. I’ve no problem with that, despite being a numbers guy (stats, man…j…just give me the stats…and graphs, I nnnneed graphs!).

Do y’all feel that numbers are worthless only in terms of professional reviews or are the aggregates of thousands of user ratings just as pointless? I mean, if I drop by IMDB and take a gander at their top 250 movie list, it’s pretty decent as a guide for some of the best movies, personal taste aside. Can that not apply to games, as well?

Perhaps sliding the professional reviews to text and allowing the users to decide a rating would be a decent balance.

Best news I’ve heard all month (except the sweet release of GC2, which was great news indeed ;).
I was totally going to let my CGW subscription die in the next month or two, but this is good reason to renew for the longest subscription-plan available. I love to read about games, which is why I lurk here.
Discussions, insights, etc. on these boards don’t end with scores.

Mr. Wardell’s arguments in favor of review scores carry a lot truth, of course, but Stardock does the digital delivery thing. I suspect that the retail consequences of aggragated scores should be less and less of a concern for them. Here’s hoping.


<- Bad Girl? doubleyootee-eff?

Numbers are an arbitrary and soulless way to convey opinion in regards to product quality. I guess the aggregates are still good for what they are…but I mean, if that’s how you make your buying decisions, you probably don’t need to read any of the actual magazine content anyway. Yes, the IMDB scores do provide a good indication of what movies are worth watching (although I’d argue that Seven Samurai belongs in the #1 slot instead of #5, but that’s just me), and GameRankings does provide a good baseline indication of what games are probably most worth your time (Zelda 64: Still on top and still deserving it 100%). But those scores still don’t tell you anything.

The impetus behind CGW dropping review scores (and, indeed, looking at reviews in a different way, as you’ll see in the May issue) is to make print reviews relevant and appealing again. Internet sites are gonna beat us to the punch every time–but we’ve come up with some great ways to mold CGW’s reviews into must-read content in spite of that fact. We’re still gonna have a verdict box that sums up the reviewer’s thoughts on a game–and we feel that’s worth more to our readers than some damn number.

Ryan Scott
Reviews Editor, Computer Gaming World

You’re transitioning this from a scores suck argument into a videogame writers should be real journalists argument! A dirty, underhanded move. Luckily this comes up every couple of months too, and I’ve got another list. Here, in no particular order, are the usual suspects:

Reviews aren’t anywhere close to in-depth. They are by the numbers and lack any inherent value beyond a catalog. Shouldn’t the writing be better? We have good writing about art, movies, television, books, stamp collecting, roadtrips, exercising, motorcycling, why not gaming?

Many reviewers don’t even bother to finish the game. Staff covers hundreds of reviews per year, each one getting 1-2 paragraphs and a score between 7 and 9. A poisonous atmosphere for authors?

What’s with the previews? They are never critical, and they have no value beyond PR. But, they sell magazines. Leading us to…

Niche vs. mass market content. Fangoria vs. Entertainment Weekly. Someone brings up gonzo journalism, geoff keighley, Creem, Edge, Nextgen, some rare features in CGM and CGW. The value of the niche. Comparisons to niche porno. (OK, that one is mine)

Editorial vs advertising. The eternal battle. Really separate?

Youth vs. mature readership. Who really spends the money? Back to the niche argument.

Paper magazines are dying, go online already. Why bother trying to compete, grampa?

Investigative journalism and interviews in gaming vs. popular culture. Are gamers, developers, and the entire gaming scene inherently less interesting than hollywood? Why is that?

Pardon my ignorance but what does writing a review have to do with journalism? I’m all for better writing in game media, but my veiw of jorunalism is more investigative with hunting down facts.

Judging by Tom’s article on the front page, I get this bizarre feeling that somehow coming up with the numbers is seen to completely preclude the relevance of the text in a review. I don’t understand this. It’s additional information.

Tom, if you’re going to write a nice, soulful review, what possible difference does it make if you end up appending an 8.7 at the end of it or not? Is it so hard to come up with a numerical rating that it takes time away from your ability to articulate your thoughts? Does the ink for printing the numbers cost so much that the magazine is forced to excise many paragraphs in order to not include them? Is the little box with the numbers so large that it halves the amount of textual information you can include?

If it’s simply that the numbers provide an easy out for your readers, and they therefore look at the numbers and don’t read the reviews, what type of hubris does it take to think that you’ll show them how to really appreciate the review by removing their ability not to have to stop and actually digest the review? It’s like there’s this bizarre supposition that removing the numbers will make the content of the review somehow better or more relevant. If the review content was good in the first place, how does tacking a number on at the end matter one way or the other?

If circulation falls as a result, will CGW stick to its guns?

I applaud the decision to move to no ratings if it will improve the quality of writing. Otherwise I don’t really see the purpose of doing away with it. Those who care about the ratings system will go elsewhere, those who aren’t enamored with ratings would never have cared anyway.

The only problem with ratings as I see it is the issue of consistency which is complicated by variables such as reviewer competence and subjectivity.

I used to love CGW because of it’s writing. At one point many years ago, I stopped raeding CGW and started reading PCGamer. However, I will certainly be buying the next CGW, and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

edit: Mouselock has beaten me to the point. Curses, Mouselock! ;)

So you felt your reviews were unappealing? Wasn’t the solution making them better? And are 1UPs reviews with ratings equally unappealing, or are rated reviews only appealing when they appear online? This is all very confusing.

I’m not clear how ratings make a publication unable to write longer and more in-depth articles, though. But I do hope the new pieces are solid examples of “New Games Journalism™.”

Fuck. Yes.

I was really hoping we’d move out of this trend in 5 or 10 years, but I didn’t really expect the move out of this overly importance on scores to begin so soon. Best news I’ve heard from awhile.

Time for a resub, I think. I really want to support this move.

Yeah, let’s please not make this an issue where guys like me are called journalists. I’m no more a journalist than Paris Hilton is an actress.

Mouselock, you seem to think not having a number takes away something. However, I’d argue it’s taking away something that was never there. To my mind, a number doesn’t add anything other than a convenient way for people to miss the point.

I have no problem with randomly thinking up a number. In fact, here’s one now: 12! I can even use some formula to figure out fun factor, reviewer tilt, and graphics quality for a game. However, my experience is that the discussion of the number upstages anything that’s been written. The idea, for me, is that by removing the number, you remove the disproportionate attention it invariably gets.

Unfortunately, that’s not really what Ziff-Davis is doing, so it’s kind of a moot point. Ziff-Davis’ idea is that you can go to for your numbers needs and CGW for something else.

However, if you want a number for something that doesn’t give you the handy 7-9 rating you need, you can come up with one the same way Rotten Tomatoes does for its movie reviews: postive review is a 1 and negative review is a 0. There you go! Aggregate away!


Instead, it’s now less convenient to miss the point. Um, yay?

I’m not sure how having a summary box and “editor’s choice” selections is going to make people focus more attention on the main body text. Instead, they’ll focus on… the summary box and the editor’s choice.

I knew this thread would find Steve re-emerging to troll us. :)

Hi Steve!

Hey, I hope it works.

But it sounds like is one of those, “This is what message board people think, so let’s do it!” kinds of things. You know, like making a magazine more mature, less joke-y, more serious, writing longer and more detailed reviews and shorter previews, having less hype, etc., and seeing those same message board people ignore you and continue to say, “No one makes a magazine like this!”

Not that I’m bitter.

Wait, there are magazines about computer gaming?

Hey, we’re just giving it a shot. Given the mixed response already on this message board, who knows what the proletariat out there are going to think. But, ya know. It’s February. I’m bored. I’ve been doing this a long time. If it doesn’t work…sue me. Well, no, don’t. You can laugh at me, though.