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Subject: Table Talk - Show Me The Money! (Paid Reviews) rss

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Brendan Riley
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Amauata wrote:
I'll keep this short:

Doctors in the USA have struggled with this issue for centuries. Do I trust this research article/lecture/review or is the presenter just trying to get me to buy their snake oil?
In the modern era, it's generally ok to take money from industry as long as you disclose in any presentation, article or otherwise that you've taken money. This is the mandatory "disclosure of conflicts of interest" that starts every lecture and ends every article.
It's not a perfect system, but you might look into it as a model for what you're dealing with.

Thank you for all the great content that you've created and for starting this conversation!


I'd suggest your first statement suggests why it's not okay to take money from industry for reviewing it. It inherently muddies the waters. That said, I've made my peace with the idea that reviewers can do paid previews, but I don't take those as reviews.

I think our best bet is to support reviewers so they don't have to do paid previews for companies. If we're their employers, we become their priority (viz The Dice Tower, Rahdo, Shut Up and Sit Down).

BTW - Rahdo moved his fundraising to Patreon a couple years ago.
 
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Martin Otzmann
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pozz70 wrote:
Why don't publishers just review/preview their own games in the way of an extended advert, BGG could possibly provide the platform. That would level the playing field and then the independent reviewers could then let us know their thoughts. So to sum up, straight from the horses mouth and then independent critique to shelve the ambiguity.


Well, I don't think that a publisher can really substitute an actual review, as a review is mainly about the personal opinion of the reviewer.

Also, with BGG you already sort of have this sort of platform, as publishers can post pretty much anything of relevance about their game here.

The only thing missing, and that's the key part for the publishers, is the actual exposure, like having those things featured somewhere on the front page. This being said - I'd totally be up for that and would love for BGG to implement that feature right away!
 
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Martin Otzmann
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Haakon Gaarder wrote:
I know it's hard to pull off and all that but imagine this:

a monthly magazine with high quality independent reviews written by full time employees. Paid for by subscription, mailed home every month. I would easily pay 10$ a month for that, or even more. It could even be done through Patreon. Perhaps someone like Jamie Stegmaier could help getting enough patreons early, without getting involved in the actual product later.


That would be a great thing. We actually have a small version of this here in Germany, but it's only released quarterly and includes 30 reviews, so they're barely scratching the surface of boardgame releases nowadays.
 
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Martin Otzmann
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maross wrote:
Sjeng wrote:
mi_de wrote:
I am saying reviewers should be unpaid.

Do you enjoy watching Dice Tower, Rahdo, SU&SD, NPI etc? Do you think they'd still be doing this if they were not paid?


I would prefer them not being paid for the actual reviews. dice tower 2019 kickstarter campaign - $300.000+. Rahdo year six (maybe 2017 or 2018, cant see newer one, not sure why he stopped doing it) $50.000+.

I mean this is a great way to earn enough money (but maybe my standards are low), without actually lying/not saying things about the game here and there, while reviewing it.


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tomvasel/dice-tower-201...
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1855928930/rahdo-runs-t...


Not sure about the actual intention if both posts, just wanted to point out, while being paid through Kickstarter, their events, merch and Previews, the Dice Tower (to my knowledge at least) does NOT do Paid Reviews. So in my opinion they have found great ways to get paid for their work, without the risk of being considered sellouts when it comes to their actual opinion in Reviews.

Coming from someone who actually has payed for a Kickstarter Preview a few months ago and is still waiting for a review of another game of which they had received a copy almost a year ago, as this is how things go at the Dice Tower.
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Brendan Riley
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Tetrahedron Games wrote:
the Dice Tower (to my knowledge at least) does NOT do Paid Reviews. So in my opinion they have found great ways to get paid for their work, without the risk of being considered sellouts when it comes to their actual opinion in Reviews.


Mark Streed does Previews for the Dice Tower. I believe they're paid.
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I have nothing against paid reviews but I do have my own method of weighting their value. Anything before the game is in the hands of the public is an advert anything after is a review. Before release its possible that all available reviews are paid for and more importantly no one has enough information to question their opinions, after release anyone who has played the game can point out errors or explain a different viewpoint. Publishers want a game to sell well from day one so hype is great for them, its probably even more important for KS so as long as reviewers are open about being paid and consumers take a pinch of salt I don't see a problem.
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Raymond Haaken
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mi_de wrote:
Sjeng wrote:
mi_de wrote:
I am saying reviewers should be unpaid.

Do you enjoy watching Dice Tower, Rahdo, SU&SD, NPI etc? Do you think they'd still be doing this if they were not paid?


No, not really. There are plenty of guys doing great written reviews for free, for the love of it. Those guys you mention are really not necessary.

So why then would you care if these reviewers were paid? There are plenty of others who love their videos. Myself included.
 
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Kirke Lawton
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This “concern” for unpaid reviewers seems completely unfounded. From what I can tell the premiere board game reviewers (who have been referenced repeatedly above) do not do paid reviews and have created business models that work for them.

Is there a problem of review scarcity? I don’t think anyone would argue that.

Do consumers have trouble finding “good” reviews among a flood of “bad” ones? I don’t think so.

It’s somewhat amusing that we aren’t giving BGG and the BGG community major credit for mitigating the problem/risk of bad/biased reviews. If someone gives a rave review for a game with a BGG rating of 5.0, no one is going to be “fooled.” If a reviewer is consistently overselling games and omitting game weaknesses, the community will call them out as flaks who should be ignored (except possible as entertainment).

Full disclosure: I support the Dice Tower via their Kickstarter and by attending Dice Tower Con.
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Eric Gradberg
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Rodney,

I don't really try and keep my finger on the pulse of the industry, but your presentation of the topic seemed well-considered and thoughtful. The concerns were new to me. It was interesting that you pointed out we expect unpaid reviewers to give of themselves for free (and at an operational loss). That thinking exists far beyond the realm of board games and their reviews. It happens when artists and musicians are stiffed on their fee or low-balled because "exposure" should be good enough by their contractors.

I commend you for raising the topic, but I also think its a bigger topic to address as a culture (beyond even gaming). That may make it a bigger hill than you anticipated climbing at the start. Good luck.
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James Scott
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Well it seems most agree that Paid Reviews should at least have a disclaimer. I don't think I would do a paid review because I feel there would be certain expectations from the publishers. Expectations? I'm sure publishers pay certain reviewers because of their production quality, personalities and overall viewership. But are they going to be forthcoming in their review on the negatives? As a publisher, if you pay someone $300 ( I honestly don't know what they pay) to review a game, do you expect them to say mostly positive things? As a Reviewer, if the game have problems, do you mention them or try to downplay them? I mean do you really want to bite the hand that feeds you?

As for unpaid reviewers like me, we do have a bit of freedom. Buy a game that interest you, play it a few times with friends, set-up your "studio", record and publish. Is it costly? Sure, what hobby isn't? (see my earlier post on costs). But there are ways out there to earn back some of the costs, I just never bothered yet. Still trying to get to my comfort zone.

As for the middle ground, receiving copies of games. I personally don't think this is a "paid" review. And honestly the happy median. It helps cut down production cost. Extra copies can be given out in contests, thus increasing views. But, again, I think there should be a disclaimer stating they received a free copy for review.

All in all, the viewer should be made aware of review factors. Such as, this designer is in my local gaming group or I'm a huge fan of XYZ I buy everything they publish.

Do I watch paid reviews? Sure, they are great entertainment and I get to see how the game works. But I take their opinion with a grain of salt.

James Scott - Board on the Bayou
 
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Apologies if this was already asked, but here is a great tangential question; Has anyone ever been burned by a seemingly positive review? Has anyone ever watched a review in which the reviewer gave the game high positive remarks which in turn convinced you to buy the game only to then find out said game wasn't nearly as good as the reviewer made it seem? If you have been burned was this because the reviewer was paid to offer the opinion they did?
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James Scott
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Yes I have. It's one of the reasons I started reviewing games. It was a kickstarter that I was on the fence on. I watched a couple of the "Reviews" in which they gushed over it. They really should of called them paid previews. Now I wouldn't necessarily say I was "burned", as it is always "buyer beware" on anything. But if I knew they were paid previews I probably would of passed and saved $150+.

That being said, there is no telling if they really did love the game. Or if they said only good things because they were paid.
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69stalker wrote:
Yes I have. It's one of the reasons I started reviewing games. It was a kickstarter that I was on the fence on. I watched a couple of the "Reviews" in which they gushed over it. They really should of called them paid previews. Now I wouldn't necessarily say I was "burned", as it is always "buyer beware" on anything. But if I knew they were paid previews I probably would of passed and saved $150+.

That being said, there is no telling if they really did love the game. Or if they said only good things because they were paid.

Dark Souls?
 
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Sorry Rodney, but I really don't agree with you here. It goes without saying that getting paid by a publisher to review their game (or book or movie or whatever) creates an unwanted bias. And even IF it doesn't, just the suspicion of it should be enough to make a reviewer realize that their "objective opinion" is being compromised, and thereby their relevance as a "reviewer". It doesn't matter if it is boardgames or any other market.

There are other ways to get paid, and many other reviewers do it: Sponsors, ads and not least, crowdfunding such as kickstarter, patreon etc. This is where the money should come from, the viewers or a third party.

And if you can't make a living doing reviews through independent sources or crowd funding, well i'm sorry to say so, but then maybe you should work with something else. There's just not room for everyone to be a game reviewer.
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In the recent 6 months, I have seen a very visible uptick in content content creators publicly complaining about not being paid or not making enough to create content full time. To me this is a sign that the market is oversaturated. Rodney correct me if I am wrong, my understanding is that those who are able to create content for the hobby, full time, did so for many years without being paid. I believe we, as hobbyists, respected each other's time and our wallets much more when reviews etc. were passion projects designed to simply enhance the creator's participation in the hobby.

I am most excited and apt to support financially those content creators who are doing something beyond: game, details, overview, checklist of review criteria, final thoughts. There are really creative content creators doing some cool stuff like talk shows, convention coverage, deep dives which make board game media a much richer experience. In that space there is so much room for publishers to sponsor content in our hobby without any hint of a conflict.
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DaFees wrote:
Apologies if this was already asked, but here is a great tangential question; Has anyone ever been burned by a seemingly positive review? Has anyone ever watched a review in which the reviewer gave the game high positive remarks which in turn convinced you to buy the game only to then find out said game wasn't nearly as good as the reviewer made it seem? If you have been burned was this because the reviewer was paid to offer the opinion they did?



Very few who use this site will have been burned but others who are maybe getting into gaming or simply don't know this resource exists may have been. The argument is simply if being paid does not effect anything then being open about it can only be a positive and increase trust levels.
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Lasseman wrote:
Sorry Rodney, but I really don't agree with you here. It goes without saying that getting paid by a publisher to review their game (or book or movie or whatever) creates an unwanted bias. And even IF it doesn't, just the suspicion of it should be enough to make a reviewer realize that their "objective opinion" is being compromised, and thereby their relevance as a "reviewer". It doesn't matter if it is boardgames or any other market.

There are other ways to get paid, and many other reviewers do it: Sponsors, ads and not least, crowdfunding such as kickstarter, patreon etc. This is where the money should come from, the viewers or a third party.

And if you can't make a living doing reviews through independent sources or crowd funding, well i'm sorry to say so, but then maybe you should work with something else. There's just not room for everyone to be a game reviewer.


I don't think anywhere in the video is Rodney arguing that reviewers should get paid by publishers. Rather, he's saying that the expectation that reviewers should do their work for free needs to be re-examined.
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wombat929 wrote:
Lasseman wrote:
Sorry Rodney, but I really don't agree with you here. It goes without saying that getting paid by a publisher to review their game (or book or movie or whatever) creates an unwanted bias. And even IF it doesn't, just the suspicion of it should be enough to make a reviewer realize that their "objective opinion" is being compromised, and thereby their relevance as a "reviewer". It doesn't matter if it is boardgames or any other market.

There are other ways to get paid, and many other reviewers do it: Sponsors, ads and not least, crowdfunding such as kickstarter, patreon etc. This is where the money should come from, the viewers or a third party.

And if you can't make a living doing reviews through independent sources or crowd funding, well i'm sorry to say so, but then maybe you should work with something else. There's just not room for everyone to be a game reviewer.


I don't think anywhere in the video is Rodney arguing that reviewers should get paid by publishers. Rather, he's saying that the expectation that reviewers should do their work for free needs to be re-examined.


But there is a lot to disagree with in Rodney's presentation. He does present a false dichotomy of "publishers paying reviewers" vs. "reviewers not getting paid" without acknowledging at all any other revenue streams that reviewers have recourse to. And he also says that reviewers not getting paid is arguably a worse problem than reviewers getting paid by publishers.
 
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Patrick Swinkels
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Again a very interesting table talk topic.

I myself have contributed financially to some video channels (yours, MvM, etc) that do tutorials, play-through's or reviews.
So I consider that as the solution to the problem of getting value for your (hard) work.

However, there is one thing I am getting worried about, and it has been plainly visible with the "Tiny Towns" board game of AEG.
EVERYBODY is doing shows on this game.

Now, I can understand this if there was a limited amount of games available to be reviewed.
However, every year more than 1000 games appear, and it is not very efficient if every channel starts to publish content on the very same game.

I hope that is not the consequence of "paid reviews" in the sense of publishers pushing their games to all channels...

I do make one exception: you have this special treatment of one game a year to be handled by different channels (The Godfather, Wildlands).
I liked that format very well.

Another thing I like is JonGetsGames letting his sponsors decide what games to do a play-through of.

Take care & greetings from Belgium
 
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swinkelp wrote:
Again a very interesting table talk topic.

I myself have contributed financially to some video channels (yours, MvM, etc) that do tutorials, play-through's or reviews.
So I consider that as the solution to the problem of getting value for your (hard) work.

However, there is one thing I am getting worried about, and it has been plainly visible with the "Tiny Towns" board game of AEG.
EVERYBODY is doing shows on this game.

Now, I can understand this if there was a limited amount of games available to be reviewed.
However, every year more than 1000 games appear, and it is not very efficient if every channel starts to publish content on the very same game.

I hope that is not the consequence of "paid reviews" in the sense of publishers pushing their games to all channels...

I do make one exception: you have this special treatment of one game a year to be handled by different channels (The Godfather, Wildlands).
I liked that format very well.

Another thing I like is JonGetsGames letting his sponsors decide what games to do a play-through of.

Take care & greetings from Belgium


It has everything to do with hype, what's popular, click-bait, and getting views. The more views and viewers a review channel has, the more incentive publishers have to pay them.
That's why when a new, popular title releases, every channel out there has a review on it.
How many Gloomhaven reviews were there when it came out? I couldn't find much else BUT Gloomhaven reviews.
 
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pahool wrote:
But there is a lot to disagree with in Rodney's presentation. He does present a false dichotomy of "publishers paying reviewers" vs. "reviewers not getting paid" without acknowledging at all any other revenue streams that reviewers have recourse to. And he also says that reviewers not getting paid is arguably a worse problem than reviewers getting paid by publishers.


I disagree that he presents this as a dichotomy -- he doesn't present the possible solutions, but he surely thought of "the audience should pay reviewers." He just wanted to leave a space for us to discuss it in the context of "what do we do?"
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Hi Rodney,

A very good video topic! I'd agree with your premise that many Reviewers likely start out as enthusiasts who simply want to share their opinions. However, if they do well and gain popularity, it becomes their choice whether or not to make it a profession.

It would be my opinion that if a person chooses to make YT game reviews their primary occupation, then their top goal should be to achieve that income from YT and not from paid reviews. I certainly understand the desire to do paid reviews when one's YT $ don't measure up, but that comes along with the reservations that are (duly, IMO) inherent - can one be trusted to be fair?

If a vacuum salesman comes to your door saying he owns one himself and touts how great it is, would you believe him? Maybe. Would you believe him more than your next door neighbor who's telling you he also owns one and it's crap? Likely not. Why not? Because the salesman stands to gain from the sale, while your neighbor does not.

So, while it is of course plausible that paid reviews can be fair and impartial, I believe it comes with a sliding scale of self interest attached - anywhere from blatantly glossing over faults to subtly modifying wording so as to help generate future paid review revenue. Unpaid reviews are free from this slippery slope.

So, my 2¢ is: If you're going to review any commercial product, do so in a way that does not tie your income to the producer's interests.
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The problem any review, paid or unpaid, is if the reviewer
misrepresents his motivation.

"I've made this review because the game is terrific and you should
know about it"
vs
"I've made this review because I like money and hope to get more
from the publisher"
vs
"My employer (Not a game publisher) pays me to write things
you'll find interesting to read".
vs
"I have a personal vendetta against the designer so I'm trashing
this game"


 
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ddyer wrote:
The problem any review, paid or unpaid, is if the reviewer
misrepresents his motivation.

"I've made this review because the game is terrific and you should
know about it"
vs
"I've made this review because I like money and hope to get more
from the publisher"
vs
"My employer (Not a game publisher) pays me to write things
you'll find interesting to read".
vs
"I have a personal vendetta against the designer so I'm trashing
this game"




Precisely why I prefer a concise how-to-play video that shows how the game works with no bias or "review". If I can see how the game plays, I'll make my own decision on whether I'd like it or not.
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wombat929 wrote:
pahool wrote:
But there is a lot to disagree with in Rodney's presentation. He does present a false dichotomy of "publishers paying reviewers" vs. "reviewers not getting paid" without acknowledging at all any other revenue streams that reviewers have recourse to. And he also says that reviewers not getting paid is arguably a worse problem than reviewers getting paid by publishers.


I disagree that he presents this as a dichotomy -- he doesn't present the possible solutions, but he surely thought of "the audience should pay reviewers." He just wanted to leave a space for us to discuss it in the context of "what do we do?"


I guess I can see that, but if that was the intention, I think the presentation could have been much better, because the only examples he gives of payment for reviews is of publishers paying for reviews. Re-watching, I see some wiggle room there, but that was certainly not my impression on first viewing.
 
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