Major Survey of Journalists Reveals Biggest Issues with Reviewing Games

February 28, 2018
Also on: PS4, Xbox One, Switch

A survey undertaken by Big Games Machine has revealed the biggest issues games journalists face when trying to review new titles.

Over 200 journalists responded to the survey which asked seven major questions, including the top reasons for reviewing and not reviewing games, the platforms most journalists are able to cover, and the growing effect of influencers on general journalistic standards. The results, while not hugely surprising in some respects, did throw up a number of interesting points. 

Simple research by PR could alleviate many of these issues.

Firstly, the relationship between journalist and PR company is paramount, according to the results. Despite Jump Dash Roll being a relatively new site, we have already started to receive hundreds of emails a week from PR companies, developers and promoters, asking us to cover their games. The site's founders have prior relationships with a number of PR representatives at various companies from our time writing for other sites, and we've worked hard to develop those connections over the years to the point that many of the people contacting us write personal messages and provide review codes ahead of time. 

Yet, in an industry where it is incredibly hard for a young studio to get a new game noticed, a huge number of PR companies instead rely on blanket emails, offering little in the way of new information, and a battle to actually get a copy to review, let alone one with enough time to write a quality piece before embargo lifts. The overwhelming takeaway from this survey is that establishing good connections with the media could actually benefit PR companies in the long run. Taking the time to learn about their site and, at the very least, what formats they cover, will make gaming sites far more open to pitches.

PC games are the widest covered format across all surveyed sites.

Secondly, the survey reveals that direct contact from developers themselves is the best way for a site to take notice of your game. Maybe it's the lack of a middle man and potential for associated fluff, but it seems that if you're a game developer and want to get noticed, doing a bit of research on a gaming website and contacting the people you think would be most interested on covering your game may be a good way to get a publicity foothold. Of course, the likes of Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are well-known enough that their titles are often announced and followed years in advance. But for a small studio who wants to get their game out into the wider world, and can't afford expensive PR or a booth at a stand? The answer might be as simple as sending an email with a review code over to a gaming site.

For all the negativity about vloggers, traditional journos remain optimistic about the future.

Finally, the growing number of influencers is a cause for concern for many game journos. While streaming and video reviews are becoming more and more popular, a number of controversies — such as those caused by vloggers with millions of followers like PewDiePie — have tainted the field. Some writers believe that exposure, and the associated monetary benefits it brings, is becoming more important than quality journalism in the eyes of PR companies. Yet it isn't all doom and gloom. Almost 70% of games journalists believe that influencers and traditional written media will happily co-exist for the foreseeable future

The full results of the survey can be found here.

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Rob Kershaw

I've been gaming since the days of the Amstrad. Huge RPG fan. Planescape: Torment tops my list, but if a game tells a good story, I'm interested. Absolutely not a fanboy of any specific console or PC - the proof is in the gaming pudding. Also, I like cake.