Archive for the ‘Customers’ Category

Critics vs. Customers! ZombiU reviews, or zombie reviewers?

December 18, 2012

Coffee Beans
Do you like zombies? Do you not like zombies? Do you feel like a zombie when you wake up, and generally throughout the day?

ZombiU released for (and with) the Wii U on November 18, 2012, basically as a brand new IP. The game was developed and published by Ubisoft, and received an ESRB rating of “MATURE” with “Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language” listed as content for gamers and parents to be aware of. It released with a MSRP of $59.99 in the United States, and can be purchased either via a physical retail copy from stores, or a digital “copy” through the Wii U’s eShop.

With a full month of “professional” critic reviews and customer reviews for ZombiU to look at now, and having completed the game myself, is ZombiU a Wii U title you should play (if, you are of age)? Have Wii U owners agreed with the “professional” reviewers on ZombiU? Brew yourself some coffee, and let’s take a look!

How a zombie smiles, before reading reviews of ZombiU?

The Brew
While reviews for the game were under an embargo, GameSpot “leaked” their ZombiU review in a professional fashion (see: sarcasm) a few days early by publishing it on their site, then removing it. The damage was already done though, and their review score quickly spread around different message boards and video game websites.

The first “professional” review scores for ZombiU started being published on November 18th, the day the Wii U launched and the day the ZombiU review embargo was lifted. ZombiU currently has a “professional” review score average of 77.09%, based on 43 reviews on GameRankings.com. Its MetaCritic.com Metascore is currently 77 out of 100, based on 61 critic reviews.

What about customers though? What have gamers, perhaps like myself that ignored the early reviews, who have played the game thought about it? ZombiU currently has a review score average of 92.77%, based on 36 customer reviews from Amazon.com. The game had a review score average of 88.43%, based on 2,149 gamer reviews directly from the Wii U’s eShop rating.

ZombiU’s eShop ratings.

Note: All of the review scores for ZombiU were captured around 4:00PM EST on December 18, 2012.

Caffeinated Thoughts
I chose to not read most ZombiU reviews, until I finished the game. I didn’t want to see “problems” with the game before playing it for myself, and I was also afraid some of the reviews might have contained spoilers, so I didn’t want to read or see anything that might have given something away in the game.

One average is a C, one an A, depending on the grading scale.

After I completed the game, I decided to read the “reviews” of the game and see what some of the problems were, and what did I discover? Apparently, the problem many early “reviewers” of ZombiU had is they were too busy to finish the game (see: complete it), before slapping a score on it. Apparently, the proper way to “review” games these days is to watch a few trailers, read a few impressions of it, play it for maybe an hour; then decide if you want to go positive or negative in the “review” and stick with it.

What “reviews” of ZombiU contain either outright incorrect information, or show the “reviewers” apparently didn’t finish the game? Here’s my short list, for now. IGN. Nintendo Life. Game Informer. Then there is Game Spot’s reviewer, who went into the game knowing (I guess) it is a survival horror title, but thinks it should have been an action game instead? GameSpot’s reviewer though, and many others, did seem to like ZombiU’s multiplayer options, which Mrs. Coffee and I did try out one evening together.

Here’s a video of Mrs. Coffee and I playing ZombiU’s local multiplayer. Mrs. Coffee was using the Wii U GamePad to place zombies around the map, and I was the survivor running around with the weapons, trying to survive for as long as possible:

Is the audio synced up correctly? It seems off on YouTube, but right in my player. Feedback?

I just don’t understand reviews having incorrect information, as two of them above do, and leaving that incorrect information published. Perhaps the sites were taken over by zombies? I contacted both sites with reviews containing incorrect information. One site didn’t want to address a larger problem with their “review”, and chose to leave incorrect information published; the other site apparently didn’t care their “review” contained bad information and has left it published as well. Then, one of the reviewers hasn’t answered a simple question about the game that he was asked, “How long did it take you to complete it so I have an idea?

ZombiU gives you that information. The game tells you how many hours (and minutes and seconds) it takes you to finish the game, and how many survivors it takes you to finish the game as well. Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo is the only reviewer of ZombiU I am currently aware of that provided the number of hours it took him to complete the game, and the number of survivors it took him to get through it. His review of ZombiU is HERE.

My “Playtime” and survivor count.

As for myself, I completed ZombiU in 24 hours, 40 minutes, and 10 seconds according to my game’s “Playtime”, and it took me 34 survivors to complete the game. I have many ex-survivors wandering the streets, sewers, and general areas of London still, so please add my Nintendo Network ID of Coffees to your Wii U friend list if you want more zombies wandering around your ZombiU game.

Should you play ZombiU, if you are above the recommended age? I recommend giving the game a try. Whether that is buying it, renting it, or borrowing it from a friend (my copy is currently loaned out right now actually). I think you will enjoy the game if you don’t go in expecting a FPS game, or an action game, and understand that the melee combat is designed, I believe, to keep you on your toes. You shouldn’t expect to get 100 hit zombie combos in the game, and understand that ammunition for guns is scarce. Many of my hours playing were spent exploring different areas in the game. There are small alternate paths in a few areas that you may miss if you are just running through the game, and sometimes those areas contain weapons and ammunition, and even story pieces. I believe exploration is encouraged in the game.

So, based on the review averages for the game so far, I side more with the “customer reviews” averages than the “critic reviews”. I think ZombiU is another perfect example of why there should be basic video game review standards on sites, as I have written about in the past.

Questions
Did any of you perhaps not purchase ZombiU, because of the early reviews on the game? If you have played ZombiU, what do you think about the game?

If you have played and beaten ZombiU, how many hours and survivors did it take you? Also, have any of you attempted to beat Survival Mode yet, and possibly completed it?

You can purchase ZombiU below from Amazon.com, and find out how long you will survive!

Read other Critics vs. Customers pieces here and here.

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Critics vs. Customers! Madden NFL 13 – PS3 & Xbox 360 Reviews Averages

September 24, 2012
Review score averages shown were captured around 5:00PM EST, on 9-24-12.

Coffee Beans
Did you know the Madden NFL video game series has been around for almost 25 years now, with a “new” Madden game being released basically every year since the series started?

Madden NFL 13 was released almost one month ago now, on August 28, 2012 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It released with a MSRP of $59.99 and received an ESRB rating of “Everyone” with no content listed for gamers or parents to be aware of. The game was developed by EA Tiburon, and published under Electronic Arts’ EA Sports label.

One big new feature in Madden NFL 13 is the new physics engine in the game, the Infinity Engine, which is designed to make tackles and hits more authentic, and it tries to make sure “no two plays ever look or feel the same” in the game.

We are now 3 weeks into the the official NFL season, and we have almost a full month of “professional” critic reviews and customer reviews for Madden NFL 13 to look at. Have PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 players of Madden NFL 13 agreed with critics on the game? Brew yourself some coffee, and let’s take a look!

The Brew
The first “professional” critic review scores for Madden NFL 13 started being published around August 24th, a few days before the game released.

First up, the reviews for Madden NFL 13 on the PlayStation 3. The PS3 version has a “professional” critic review score average of 84 out of 100 based on 17 reviews on MetaCritic.com, and it has a critic review score average of 84.14% based on 18 reviews on GameRankings.com.

What about the customers though, what has their reaction been to the game since it released? Well, Madden NFL 13 on the PS3 has a customer review score average of 37.35%, based on 318 customer reviews from Amazon.com.

The Xbox 360 version of Madden NFL 13 has a “professional” critic review score average of 82 out of 100 based on 32 reviews on MetaCritic.com, and it has a critic review score average of 83.37% based on 31 reviews on GameRankings.com.

Madden NFL 13 on the Xbox 360 has a customer review score average of 45.60%, based on 375 customer reviews from Amazon.com.

Broken back? Or, broken reviews?

Caffeinated Thoughts
I think the “professional” critic review score averages versus the customer review score average for Madden NFL 13 clearly show there is a disconnect somewhere. We’re not talking about a simple 10% review score average difference, we have about a 36-46% review score average difference between the “professional” critics for Madden NFL 13 and the customers for Madden NFL 13.

One of the first reviews published on August 24th, by the largest video game site on the web (see – IGN), gave the game a 9.0 out of 10. To me, the review seemed to be a well crafted PR statement almost, based on features in the game, but glazing over real issues with the game (or, simply not mentioning them). The reviewer said of one feature, “This kept me coming back to the Connected Careers week after week.” I was curious as to how many weeks he had the review copy, so I asked and according to the reviewer he had it maybe 2-3 weeks before his review was published; which was a full 2-3 weeks before the game released and was available to the general gaming public.

Why does this matter? Early in his review he states, “At a glance, Madden NFL 13 might just look like Madden, but in your hands, it feels polished.“, which I found odd based on my time with the demo.

I played the PlayStation 3 demo for Madden NFL 13, and completed several games in it. The demo didn’t sell me on the game though, because I thought it lacked polish. Sure, I could understand some issues from a new series, but seeing holograms on the sidelines (people that are *there* but you can run through), bad camera angles on replays, cars that look like cardboard boxes driving outside the stadiums, and things like hearing the same comments from announcers within a game, just seemed to me that EA hasn’t been pushing the series very much.

Also, when I see a glitch like in the following video that was posted up in Chalgyr’s Game Room review of the game, the word “polished” doesn’t enter my thoughts:

How is it possible for the critic and customer review score averages to be so far apart, on the same game? Well, from what I read of the critic reviews it seems many didn’t experience real-world online play in the game, and perhaps were in an *EA bubble* before the game released protecting them from bad experiences with it?

Also, many of the early critic reviews, like IGN’s, failed to mention features taken out of the game, one being the lack of offline cooperative play in Franchise Mode, which apparently from many user reviews is still a big selling point for the game/series. Perhaps, the more time you spend with the game, the better it becomes and a solid 2-3 weeks is what the customers need to be spending with the game before reviewing it (this wouldn’t change the lack of features though)?

Questions
If you purchased Madden NFL 13 for the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360, what do you think about the game? If you were to give the game an overall review score average, would it fall closer to the “professional” critic review score averages above, or to the customer review score averages shown? Is Madden NFL 13 a game you would recommend to other gamers, that perhaps have played a few Madden games over the years, but haven’t purchased one in a while?

Also, if you haven’t purchased Madden NFL 13 yet, will the customer review score averages reflected above for both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, make you think twice before reading a “professional” critic review score average and basing your decision to purchase a game on it?

If you are interested in Madden NFL 13, or just want to read through the Amazon.com customer review score averages (which I highly suggest), you can see the games on Amazon.com below:

Critics vs. Customers! Best & Worst 3DS Launch Titles

August 16, 2012

Coffee Beans
     The Nintendo 3DS was released on March 27, 2011 in North America at a retail price of $249.99. The system had 18 games available at launch, from my count, and most had MSRPs of $39.99.
     The Nintendo 3DS XL will be releasing in just a few days, August 19th, at a MSRP of $199.99. If you have not purchased a 3DS yet, but are planning to buy the 3DS XL this Sunday you might be wondering if there are any older 3DS games you should take a look at it when you pick up the new system.

     For this first “Critics vs. Customers”, we are taking a look at the best third party customer rated 3DS launch title, and comparing it to its critic review score averages. We will also take a look at the worst customer rated 3DS launch game, and show what the “professional” critic review score averages were for it as well.
     First, you may be wondering what third party games launched with the 3DS last year. From my count there were 13 third party games available to purchase when the 3DS launched last year. Those were: BUST-A-MOVE UNIVERSE, SAMURAI WARRIORS: Chronicles, Combat of Giants Dinosaurs 3D, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars, The Sims 3, SUPER STREET FIGHTER IV 3D EDITION, RAYMAN 3D, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, Asphalt 3D, RIDGE RACER 3D, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D, and Super Monkey Ball 3D.
     Can you guess what third party 3DS launch title has the highest customer review score average, from the world’s largest online retail site? What about the lowest? Brew yourself some coffee, and let’s take a look!

The Brew
     If you are picking up a new 3DS system this coming weekend, let’s start with an older game you might want to avoid buying according to many customers.
     What third party 3DS launch game has the lowest customer review score average? The Sims 3.

     The Sims 3 has an Amazon.com customer review score average of 42.00%, based on 20 customer reviews. How does that compare to the “professional” critic review score averages?
     The game has a “professional” critic review score average of 52 out of 100 based on 29 reviews on MetaCritic.com, and it has a “professional” critic review score average of 53.71% based on 17 reviews on GameRankings.com.
     The customer review score average is lower than the critic averages, by basically 10%.

     What third party 3DS launch game has the highest customer review score average? Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D!
     Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D has an Amazon.com customer review score average of 91.00%, based on 20 reviews. How does the customer review score average compare to the critic review score averages?

     The game has a “professional” critic review score average of 73 out of 100 based on 43 reviews on MetaCritic.com, and it has a “professional” critic review score average of 73.87% based on 23 reviews on GameRankings.com.
     As you can see, the customer review score average for the game is nearly 20% points higher than the “professional” critic review score averages from MetaCritic.com and GameRankings.com.

Caffeinated Thoughts
     If you had told me that Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D was the highest customer rated third party Nintendo 3DS game from launch, at least according to customers, I would have found that odd. Why?
     Because I had looked at most of the 3DS release titles and read reviews on many of them, as I originally planned on buying the Nintendo 3DS day one. From the customer reviews, it really does seem that they enjoyed PES 2011 a great deal; but when reading some of the “professional” critic reviews for the game, it seems that the game had little things that held it back from being a great title. Evidently though, those little things didn’t seem to bother many of the customers.
     If you have not seen anything on Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D, here is the launch trailer for the game:
   
     Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D might be harder to find now, due to the newer Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 already being released earlier this year. If you are a current 3DS owner or getting the 3DS XL this weekend, PES 2011 might be a game to add to your list if you go bargain bin shopping, or if you find a “Buy Two, Get One Free” sale happening sometime.

Questions
     Did any of you correctly guess, without looking of course, the best and worst rated 3DS launch titles? Were any of you surprised to see what the best/worst customer reviewed 3DS launch games were?
     More importantly, if you are a 3DS owner and have played either of The Sims 3 or Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D, would you lean more toward the critic or customer review score averages for the games, and why?

If you are interested in either of the titles covered, you can see them on Amazon.com below:

Critics vs. Customers! New Review Feature

August 15, 2012

Coffee Beans

     What is “Critics vs. Customers”? The image above shows the “professional” critic review score average for a Wii retail game as 48.41%, and the Amazon.com customer review score average for the exact same game as 87.08%. How can there be such a huge difference?
     If you have wondered why I usually write professional, as “professional” when it comes to the general video game critics’ review score average in my posts, it’s because I find most of the critic review scores for games to be so similar to each other, and it’s almost like I can get more useful information about games from reading user reviews on Amazon.com, video game forums, and smaller blogs, than I can from reading reviews from sites that are supposed to be considered “professional”.
     The “professional” critics are often getting paid to play the games they review (either paid for writing the review and/or getting a free copy of the game), while the majority of the user reviews are probably from paying customers that are just trying to inform other potential customers of the good/bad they can expect from the game.
     With Critics vs. Customers we will look at a wide variety of games and see how games did with the critics’ review score averages from MetaCritic.com and GameRankings.com, and customers’ review score averages from sites like Amazon.com. General information and trailers about the games will be provided as well if possible, and maybe even more developer feedback on the posts.
     If I have played the game being covered then the piece will probably be titled, “Critics vs. Customers AND Coffee” (or something close to it), and I will try to give my insights on the game and what I thought was bitter and/or sweet about it.

Caffeinated Thoughts
     Many times game developers will have in their contracts that they may get a bonus or higher return on their games, if their game can meet certain MetaCritic review score averages. If you were to take a look at the image above and base your opinion on the game just on the “professional” critic review score average, you might not even give that game a try.
     Why should developers not get a bonus because the “professionals” apparently are the wrong target audience for the game and perhaps don’t even complete the game before writing their “reviews”, while the customers that are playing, and paying for, the very same game seem to really be enjoying it?

     I wrote a post on this topic of video game reviews, “Should There Be Game Review Standards?“, ironically just over 2 years ago (almost to the date of this post being published).
     I hope this new feature can perhaps shine a spotlight on older games, and even new releases, from a different angle and give potential buyers a different look at what paying customers think about the games, instead of just the paid critics.

Question
     Can you identify which game is used my image above, with the critic review score average of 48.41% from GameRankings.com and the customer review score average of 87.08 from Amazon.com?