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

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You must unlearn what you have learned...because the next expansion or errata might just change the rules!
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ddyer wrote:

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.


That's a great point. Given that, I don't even see the need for a "review" of a game. Just playthroughs.
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If a publisher pays for a review it becomes advertisement in my book.
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Joe
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Ryan Keane wrote:
Good table talk Rodney.

I think the onus is on the consumer. Access the review/preview/marketing content and decide for yourself. Consumers aren’t entitled to unbiased reviews. But on the flip side I’m not going to worry about how unpaid reviewers are being compensated for their hard work.

All reviewers are compromised. Whether because they got paid a lot to do a preview, a little bit, a free game, no payment but they’re hoping to get free games in the future or get paid doing reviews, they want to make their KS/Patreon backers happy, because they like the games they like, they made a rules mistake, didn’t play it enough, played it too much, etc etc.

Personally I don’t really discriminate between previews, reviews, whatever. You can call it whatever you want, but ultimately I need to watch/read and assess for myself if there’s anything of value to me. I don’t care if you tell me you got paid or not, got the game free or not. Don’t lie to me and say you bought the game and are not paid when you actually are paid to review a free copy, but omission is not a lie, and it’s an irrelevant fact whether you tell me or not. I dislike this expectation of full disclosure culture. The content of what you say is how I assess how off-base your review is or not, not whether you tell me you got paid or not.

If you want to make a living doing reviews, great. Try to get paid for it in whatever form you can and churn out your previews/reviews/whatever, that I will assume are no more compromised than some fan doing a review of their favorite game for no compensation.


While I do want reviewers to disclose when they have been paid, I agree with everything else you've said.

I don't watch reviews to get an in depth academic thesis on the relative virtues of board games within the context of postmodern culture, and their individual impact on our increasingly interconnected, yet disconnected world. I watch reviews to get a sense of whether or not I personally would like a game.

For that purpose, previews and playthroughs provide the best value because I can judge for myself how I think I'll like a game. But I also enjoy listening to what those who have made it a job to play all of these games have thought as well. I don't buy or not buy a game solely because some reviewer liked or disliked it, but hearing reviewers' reactions gives me an additional dimension of input into my sense of the overall feel of a game.

Rahdo, for example, has often said that he wishes he had stuck to only doing runthroughs, and not given any final thoughts. But I enjoy listening to them even though there are many games he likes which I don't (and vice versa) because I appreciate how he breaks down the manner in which various design decisions impacted his experience. In many cases, that has helped me to gain a richer understanding of the emotional impact of a game beyond merely seeing the mechanisms in action. And in others, it was simply interesting to hear his thoughts for the same reason I might enjoy listening to a friend sharing about an experience.

Even after switching to paid runthroughs, Rahdo has continued to share his final thoughts (with a big disclaimer beforehand), and I hope he continues to do so. I don't consider his final thoughts to be "tainted" since I don't blindly buy anything based on his opinion.

For what I care about getting from reviews, there is no practical difference between someone glossing over something I might not like because they were getting paid and someone doing so because they had different taste.
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Brendan Riley
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Oriopas wrote:
I don't watch reviews to get an in depth academic thesis on the relative virtues of board games within the context of postmodern culture, and their individual impact on our increasingly interconnected, yet disconnected world.


I love that kind of review!

Alas, since Perfect Information went off the air, I haven't been able to find anyone doing this.

 
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For me its not the fact reviewers get paid but how this is presented. Imagine this small scenario

You have heard that board games are taking off again, you enjoyed them in your youth so decide to check out KS. One game stands out for you and you read the first (p)review, this reviewer has a full page disclaimer telling you they were paid to do it, fair enough, the review is positive.
Then you look at the second (p)review and miss the tiny disclaimer in the bottom left corner, this one is also positive. So now you have two pieces of information, one paid for but backed up by an apparently independent review. So you need everyone to be open to make paid reviews truly acceptable and not making it obvious can only slow this process down.
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Ryan Keane
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Jorath wrote:
For me its not the fact reviewers get paid but how this is presented. Imagine this small scenario

You have heard that board games are taking off again, you enjoyed them in your youth so decide to check out KS. One game stands out for you and you read the first (p)review, this reviewer has a full page disclaimer telling you they were paid to do it, fair enough, the review is positive.
Then you look at the second (p)review and miss the tiny disclaimer in the bottom left corner, this one is also positive. So now you have two pieces of information, one paid for but backed up by an apparently independent review. So you need everyone to be open to make paid reviews truly acceptable and not making it obvious can only slow this process down.


But you're never going to have a "perfect" world where everyone will disclose in big letters. How tiny is too tiny? How do you trust the ones that didn't get paid but don't put any disclaimer saying they didn't get paid? What's "truly" acceptable mean?

So someone bought a game based on paid preview that they thought was a unpaid review, and it was a dud? And?

Consumers, even new gamers, are smart. They makes mistakes (we've most all bought duds we thought looked great) but they know their tastes and they learn to know which reviewers they trust, which reviews have salient critiques and which don't. Similarly, reviewers are smart - they know what they're getting into when take money to do paid previews. They know who their viewers are, and what will be acceptable to maintain viewership if that's what they want, how to present disclaimers, all that.
 
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Ian S
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I would say it's only ever too small where there is *intent to hide it (aka 'buried in the fine print'). If the intent is to make it clear, then it will be done in a way where it is perfectly visible.

* and if I encounter this, then I immediately judge that person / organisation to be untrustworthy.
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Albert Jones
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It may be too tangential, and will never be "fixed" because human nature is always (in the aggregate) more interested in new and shiny, but I'd love to see more reviews based on extended experience and knowledge rather than first few games' impressions.

There was once a review writing contest called 'Voice if Experience ' that wanted reviews around the actual depth and replayability of a game, rather than the appearance or suggestion of depth and modularity.

I imagine these types of reviews do not garner as much attention, likes and notice as they, by their nature, have to come out after the previews and first impressions, and from a corporate marketing stand point they are too little too late. Perhaps game publishers could include more reviewers in the final game testing process to get more experienced marketing material?

I would be all for adding tags to reviews: preview, first impressions, playthrough, voice of experience, etc? Perhaps even: advertisement, free review copy, paid by publisher for honest review, etc
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Ryan Keane
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Ldayjones wrote:
It may be too tangential, and will never be "fixed" because human nature is always (in the aggregate) more interested in new and shiny, but I'd love to see more reviews based on extended experience and knowledge rather than first few games' impressions.

There was once a review writing contest called 'Voice if Experience ' that wanted reviews around the actual depth and replayability of a game, rather than the appearance or suggestion of depth and modularity.

I imagine these types of reviews do not garner as much attention, likes and notice as they, by their nature, have to come out after the previews and first impressions, and from a corporate marketing stand point they are too little too late. Perhaps game publishers could include more reviewers in the final game testing process to get more experienced marketing material?

I would be all for adding tags to reviews: preview, first impressions, playthrough, voice of experience, etc? Perhaps even: advertisement, free review copy, paid by publisher for honest review, etc


Designer diaries like GMT promotes provide some of what you want. Of course they’re not pre-publication detailed independent reviews, but they give prospective consumers a ton of information about how the game was developed, how it plays in different states of that development process, and usually lack any kind of marketing tone like they’re trying to sell you on the game, so consumers can decide for themselves if they want to p500.

No one could criticize them for not playing the game enough or not understanding all the strategy. No need for disclosure - obviously they will benefit from more buying the game, but imex they feel more honest than many unpaid reviews. AND consumers can still back out and keep their money before the game ships, unlike Kickstarter, if they decide it’s not a good match for what they want.
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Albert Jones
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Thank you Ryan, you bring up a good point. Have seen a number of designer diaries outside the P500 too. I like that trend a lot.
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Rodney Smith
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Just wanted to chime in and thank everyone for the civil discourse on a topic that doesn't always go that way. Appreciated!
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John B
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Just wanted to make an observation that since this vid was posted, I have seen an increase in content providers declaring their relationships with games they are talking about. That can only be a good thing and I hope it continues.
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