The Importance of Finding Game Reviews and Coverage from Sources You Trust and Can Connect With

At a certain point in my life, I became incredibly picky about where I get my fighting game coverage and reviews from.

Don’t get me wrong. I love sites like IGN, Gamespot, Giant Bomb, and Kotaku for their ability to provide news and reviews first. I will go to them to get a sense of what a fighting game’s broader feature set is. I love independent bloggers for being able to provide their personal insight and touch in ways that more generalist sites cannot. Will turn to them for stories about how they had fun with the game or logs of their personal progress in a fighter.

But when it comes to looking for information that will help me inform my purchase on a fighting game, these outlets are not adequate with answering the hyper-specific questions I have about a game. My most recent quests for information pertaining to Samurai Shodown and Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid served as a reminder of that.

During PAX East, a lengthy Samurai Shodown video began gaining traction from one of the larger gaming outlets. While one could take a gauge at how the graphics looked and what the story mode was going to be like, it was useless for me with regards to understanding how the game was going to play. It appeared that all of the matches were against AI opponents, and the person behind the controller was not very good at the game.

Later that day, pro fighting game player LI Joe did a live stream him talking over his gameplay footage from the time he played the game with the developers. The information and footage he shared was much more helpful to me. Due to his lengthy history with the franchise, as well as being a high-level fighting game player himself, he did an amazing job articulating the particulars of what makes Samurai Shodown unique. Without his insight, I wouldn’t have known that the game was purpose-built to be light on combos. Instead, you’re supposed to play much more of a grounded game where footsies is key and your arsenal of moves is mostly of the high-risk-high-reward variety.

With Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid having just released, I scrambled around the web to see if anyone had reviews up. Only found one that was hastily-written and it read like it came from someone who wasn’t particularly good at the game. Watching their gameplay footage confirmed that.

While I don’t necessarily think reviewers have to be the best at the games they play in order to have their voice matter (lord knows I have reviewed and streamed games that I’m awful at) this reviewer’s critique of the game didn’t help me because it wasn’t the type of information I was looking for. Specifically, I was looking for information on how the game played, which wasn’t really discussed in their review. Instead, they focused entirely on the game’s paltry feature set. While I agree with their issues on that front, it still failed to answer my specific questions about the game.

Though it was a live stream put forth by the development team behind Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, I got way more of the information I was looking for. With pro players like Clockw0rk, Shady K, and Justin Wong leading the demonstration (while all also pro fighting game players themselves), they went incredibly in-depth on the game’s mechanical nuances. It was more than enough to show me that the developers of the game took the time out to make a game that at least played well for the competitive crowd, even if its budget looks may be a turn-off and its feature set may be limited.

Odds are, there is no one stop shop for all of one’s gaming needs. Everyone will cover a subject a different way, and it’s up to you to find the voices that speak to you the best. For fighting games, I heavily lean towards the opinions of pro players and genre-specific sites like Shoryuken and EventHubs. Who do you turn to for your gaming coverage and reviews?

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9 thoughts on “The Importance of Finding Game Reviews and Coverage from Sources You Trust and Can Connect With

  1. Pete Davison March 27, 2019 / 9:13 AM

    It baffles me how gaming sites don’t understand this: gaming is so broad these days that you *need* specialists, particularly for things as mechanically and structurally complex as fighting games, esports and the like. The treatment of Japanese games (among other things, I’m sure, but that’s my personal focus) by the mainstream sites over the past few years also demonstrates a clear need for specialists with regard to subject matter and thematic content, as well — this is partly the reason my site exists!

    The assumption that many mainstream gaming sites make is that a general overview is enough for most people, but that’s woefully inadequate for numerous genres these days. This is why I tend not to visit any of the mainstream outlets any more — well, that and the fact many of them have made it clear that my own personal gaming tastes make me unwelcome at a lot of them, too! It isn’t really necessary to go to them for news, even, since you can just as easily get the news direct from the source through Twitter, YouTube and mailing lists these days anyway.

    • Jett March 27, 2019 / 11:05 AM

      The gaming landscape has grown so much from the days when it was feasible for EGM to have 4 reviewers play every game and write a review for them. There are so many games now that it’s literally impossible for one outlet to cover everything. As a fighting game enthusiast, I have seen times when major sites do bring in writers who have an expertise in the genre and the content is so much better for it. Even if they can’t go as in-depth as a specialty site, they can at least cover enough to appease the hardcore crowd.

      Thankfully, the internet is a place where sites like yours can fill in those gaps that the big players can’t. I enjoy your Atari stuff! I was born right after the crash, but the 2600 was technically my first ever system and I still own one now with a few games.

      • Pete Davison March 27, 2019 / 11:40 AM

        Thanks 🙂 I was born slightly before the crash (1981) so have no recollection of that period; I reckon I probably started playing with the computers around 1985 or so, so I grew up with the Atari 8-bit computers rather than the 2600. I’ve enjoyed learning more about the 2600 in my later life! I have a system, but no games and no cables for it… I should probably try and get it up and running sometime.

        I honestly think it’s long overdue that the industry starts actually doing completely specialised outlets. We’ve long had it for other media — we have music publications focusing on specific types of music, for example — so why not games?

        Well, no, that’s not true, we *do* have it for games… just not in the commercial sector. Where’s my well-funded, massive-readership [insert genre name here]-centric site? 🙂

        You’re right, the main issue here is the sheer amount of stuff released every day. Some stuff is inevitably going to fall through the cracks. Some stuff arguably deserves to fall through the cracks — hello Steam asset flips — but equally there’s a ton of stuff that doesn’t get explored anywhere near as much as it should.

      • Pete Davison April 12, 2019 / 10:15 AM

        The trouble with stories like this is that it only focuses on a single demographic — and a pretty small sample size in the grand scheme of things, too.

        Older gamers such as myself have a lot more disposable income than teens, and as such are more than happy to spend a bit more on physical releases, limited editions and the like. On the flip side, however, teens are a lot more open to microtransactions, pay to win and all that sort of thing, and so are easier to “monetise” over the long term.

        To teens, as well, digital media in general is disposable. They’ve grown up with digital downloads and streaming rather than physical editions, so they may never have known anything different, depending on how their families introduced them to various forms of media.

        Physical packages will be around for a while yet, though after my generation is dead and gone I kind of fear for what will happen in terms of archival and preservation!

      • Jett April 12, 2019 / 10:30 AM

        You are right in that older gamers have more disposable income than the teens of today. But as you allude to at the end, those teens who grow up with digital as their norm will carry those habits with them, just as we carry around our preference for physical media.

        Gaming preservation is already in a weird place, as many games have been lost to time, from ancient arcade machines to MMOs whose servers were shut down ages ago. Even on iOS, many games I bought during the early days of the app store don’t work and I can’t re-download them. I know there are groups like the Gaming History Foundation that are doing their part to save all of this stuff, but I don’t think the industry at large sees what they’re doing as anything more than entertainment for today’s consumers. With a shift towards digital distribution, I think the concept of game preservation gets even more confusing and difficult.

  2. Kariyanine March 27, 2019 / 11:16 AM

    Mainstream gaming sites make that assumption because their numbers speak to it. The majority of people that visit those sites want generalized content that answers very broad questions. Their audiences don’t require or demand more specialized information. Sure, sometimes you’ll see a complaint in the comments of a review criticizing the reviewer for not being a fan of a series or genre but they are a miniscule fraction of the audience.

    People that go to mainstream outlets, especially ones that comment regularly, are doing so mostly because they want to be part of a generalized gaming community. Everyone gets to play arm chair quarterback and secon guess every decision and opinion in the industry. You don’t go to Giantbomb or someplace like that because I want their expert fighting game opinion, you go there because you like the personalities and its easily accessible. They and other mainstream sites, are the Jiffy Lube of gaming. They’l give you a generalized gaming tune-up but if you need more series work done, you go to a specialized mechanic.

    • Jett March 27, 2019 / 11:20 AM

      Totally agree with you!

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