Honestly, it sounds like you’re reacting to something that gets pointed out in this forum (and other board gaming spaces, including BGG) – the boardgame industry/hobby is in a really awkward growth stage right now, and will be for a while. We’re likely to see some kind of Atari home console-like market correction in the boardgame biz in the next 18-24 months that may have some catastrophic short-term consequences for some developers out there. That kind of feels inevitable.
But it also feels like an end result of almost exponential interest and growth in demand in the hobby at a time where the boardgame industry is struggling to match it. Developers and publishers are still having to use game manufacturing channels and logistics infrastructure that feel horribly inadequate to the level of demand that exists within the hobby. And from what I can see, there’s not a quick fix for it.
And while all that’s going on, I cannot stress enough how poorly video game reviews analog to board game reviews and I would not remotely want to compare the two. Other than being reviews about leisure time activities, they’re really really different, especially when it comes to reviews from persons playing the game.
Professional videogame criticism has been through some of the same issues that board game criticism is going through now. I think and hope it will get better, as I’ve seen more and more sources of deeper, critical, unafraid to be very honest-seeming about calling out games where the emperor wears no clothes. But those are still in the great minority, for sure. A whole lot of “game reviewers” are more aptly termed “game promoters”. It is what it is. And plenty of videogame reviewers and sites still use the 7-9 scale too – there are just more alternatives to find dissent from that scale.
And player reviews for boardgames I think will never carry the same deeper honesty that videogame reviews carry. Spending $50, $100, $200 for a single game…that’s a serious cash outlay for most of us! And so whether we’d like to admit it or not, for a lot of us there’s a kind of investor’s bias that is almost certain to creep into our view of the games we buy. If I spend $75 on a game…man am I going to want it to not suck! And I might do some unconscious or conscious mental gymnastics to get myself to the point of liking a game that might otherwise have disappointed if I spent a bunch of cash on it. That’s just human nature.