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[Giant Bomb] Gerstmann Pens the End of the ‘Review’ in Review of Halo Infinite

Maiden Voyage

Gold™ Member
I've been meandering down this road since 2019, when Microsoft put out Crackdown 3, of all things. A bad game, but when it's part of a good subscription service, you might as well at least check it out, right? At the time, the idea that a bad, two-stars-at-best game like Crackdown 3 was still something that I could shrug off and say "I mean hey, give it a shot, you might as well, right?" felt like shoe #1. Halo Infinite is shoe #2. One of the biggest franchises from gaming's modern era now shows up in two spots, one free-to-play, the other via a subscription. You don't need me to do this anymore. There are better avenues for me to talk to you about the relative quality of new video games than this one. Whether it's in an existing format or in an all-new one, this whole thing needs to change to better serve you, the modern video game enthusiast.

Honestly a nice eulogy to the review and probably one of his best pieces. Maybe a too meta and too late?
 

BigBooper

Gold Member
I don't doubt that they've been watching the metrics and all that goes into running a gaming media company and this might be the best move for Giantbomb, but also they have built their entire company around video content and have ditched more and more of the stuff that doesn't go to support video content.

Also, for them in particular, they've been cutting out more of the stuff that requires more labor; in my view they're an incredibly lazy bunch and have been for several years.
 

SlimySnake

Member
I also think reviews need to change. After I watch a movie or play a game, I want a conversation. A more detailed opinion of the game than just a rudimentary analysis of the contents that make up the game. I want them to discuss the plot points in detail. Go deep into why the combat works. And most importantly whats lacking when comparing the game to its counterparts. I dont get that in todays reviews.

Oddly enough, the spoilercast thats done by Easy Allies is way better than the reviews they do which are by the numbers and frankly boring. id rather have three people discuss the games shortcomings over the course of a 15 minute 'discussion' than a long drawn out review that must touch on modes and 'content' to inform the viewer.
 
Is he trying to say that game reviews as they typically have been are no longer a suitable format for modern GaaS-style games like Halo Infinite? Because I can understand that to an extent. These games get a lot of updates and can change radically from when they first launch to their latest season, and you can't completely have a fair review without covering the changes and their impact on the total experience.

But traditional reviews still have their purpose, especially for games where it's not so easy for players to get a sampling before they commit cash and/or serious play time into the experience (because even if the game is free, time itself is a currency of sorts).

I also think reviews need to change. After I watch a movie or play a game, I want a conversation. A more detailed opinion of the game than just a rudimentary analysis of the contents that make up the game. I want them to discuss the plot points in detail. Go deep into why the combat works. And most importantly whats lacking when comparing the game to its counterparts. I dont get that in todays reviews.

Oddly enough, the spoilercast thats done by Easy Allies is way better than the reviews they do which are by the numbers and frankly boring. id rather have three people discuss the games shortcomings over the course of a 15 minute 'discussion' than a long drawn out review that must touch on modes and 'content' to inform the viewer.

Channels like Matthewmatosis and AesirAesthetics do this all the time for older, retro games. The reason it works there, though, is because you not only need a lot of time to even play the game, but even longer time to reflect on its design elements and presenting the points of discussion in a way that actually adds up to something.

With there being so many new games released and a lot of them being big time commitments, the only way most reviewers could do that for new releases is by getting review copies weeks if not 2+ months in advance, but games don't even tend to go gold until around the last month before release IIRC. Otherwise they'd be doing such a deep review dive on an incomplete game that's already changed by the time the retail copy releases.
 
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A.Romero

Member
I don't doubt that they've been watching the metrics and all that goes into running a gaming media company and this might be the best move for Giantbomb, but also they have built their entire company around video content and have ditched more and more of the stuff that doesn't go to support video content.

Also, for them in particular, they've been cutting out more of the stuff that requires more labor; in my view they're an incredibly lazy bunch and have been for several years.

I'd think it's the opposite considering media content like video is much harder to produce than written reviews.

I'm not a huge fan of their content but I gather 2 things from Giantbomb: Gerstmann can be insufferable sometimes but his industry knowledge is second to none, the man is an encyclopedia and their technical quality is best in class. Not a lot of podcasts are as well produced as theirs, for example (not a big fan of video content in general so I can't comment).
 

rofif

Gold Member
What about time investment ?!
Better to read the review than waste 5 hours in order to recognize I hate the game. even if it's "free".
Besides, it's full price on steam still.
Idk how I feel about this. His reviews were not reliable anyway because of his extreme moods but without a "score" on the product, I want to know if it's even worth looking at.
So I want to know if it's a 5 game or a 9. So I might prioritize one free game over another... so I might try 4 or 5 game when I am out of 9 games.
 

Senua

Member
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
What about time investment ?!
Better to read the review than waste 5 hours in order to recognize I hate the game. even if it's "free".
Besides, it's full price on steam still.
Idk how I feel about this. His reviews were not reliable anyway because of his extreme moods but without a "score" on the product, I want to know if it's even worth looking at.
So I want to know if it's a 5 game or a 9. So I might prioritize one free game over another... so I might try 4 or 5 game when I am out of 9 games.
For game reviews I always prefer text. Not just due to a the score (it doesn't need to have a score at the bottom), but I like to skim the paragraphs and see which parts are important. I know the first third will be useless most of the time as do the background story plot which I dont care about. I just want to know about graphics and gameplay and bugs. Audio I dont care much about at all.

The only video game reviews I watch are the occasional Angry Joe episode if someone posts it here. HIs comedy bits can be cringeworthy, but his analysis on nit picky shit (with video examples) is top notch.

I'm not watching or listening to 20 minute reviews from other people where I got to sit wait for the guy to get to certain parts of the review. I'd rather watch a shooter dude do a video analysis on gun recoil and bullet spread where the guy will get to the point for each gun.
 
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ZehDon

Member
In terms of professional reviews, they haven't been relevant for a long time. The disconnect between the average gamer online and the average published reviewer is a canyon at this point. However, we'll always need folks who can voice an opinion well, analyse and critique, contrast and compare. I feel that YouTube and Patreon has filled the void that professional reviewers abdicated eons ago. I'll always be interested in the opinions and thoughts of ACGs, SkillUps, and Gervais' of the world.
 
What about time investment ?!
Better to read the review than waste 5 hours in order to recognize I hate the game. even if it's "free".
Besides, it's full price on steam still.
Idk how I feel about this. His reviews were not reliable anyway because of his extreme moods but without a "score" on the product, I want to know if it's even worth looking at.
So I want to know if it's a 5 game or a 9. So I might prioritize one free game over another... so I might try 4 or 5 game when I am out of 9 games.

Maybe they can find a middle ground; not going with scores in and of themselves but by comparing the game (or individual aspects of the game) to well-known games in that same genre or field and how the new release matches up with them in that aspect.

However that's not necessarily something most reviewers are probably able to do because it requires a deep amount of hands-on (or at least, very high theoretical) experience/knowledge of various games going back through years within the medium, sometimes even decades' worth of such experience or knowledge. Most reviewers are not up to that standard, sadly.

From what I hear Gertsmann is maybe one of the few who is? I'm just going by A.Romero A.Romero 's post on him, but I've also seen that sentiment echoed from time to time in other places.
 

DenchDeckard

Gold Member
I completely agree with him now, I can get more from hearing someone’s genuine passion for a game in 5 minutes of a podcast than a bullshit review to serve meta critic that no one reads and just looks at the score.

obviously, I need to trust the person who is talking on a video or podcast but the written review with a score at the end has long been dead imo. It doesn’t mean shit really.

with services like gamepass and Netflix etc your investment is pretty much time…is it worth your time to check something out?
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
I completely agree with him now, I can get more from hearing someone’s genuine passion for a game in 5 minutes of a podcast than a bullshit review to serve meta critic that no one reads and just looks at the score.

obviously, I need to trust the person who is talking on a video or podcast but the written review with a score at the end has long been dead imo. It doesn’t mean shit really.

with services like gamepass and Netflix etc your investment is pretty much time…is it worth your time to check something out?
If the point of his post was to drone on to make text reviews look bad, then he did a great job. Writing a decently long article making it look like he was half asleep on the couch to bore people was well done.

To me, there's a time for text content and a time for video or podcast content. Game reviews for me are more of a text format. A guy telling about quirks, bugs or where to find the most difficult hidden coin in Super Mario, I'll watch a video.

Giant Bomb is a podcast heavy site with endless videos and chats. He'll favour that medium.

Someone working at Wikipedia will favour text pages.
 
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A.Romero

Member
Is he trying to say that game reviews as they typically have been are no longer a suitable format for modern GaaS-style games like Halo Infinite? Because I can understand that to an extent. These games get a lot of updates and can change radically from when they first launch to their latest season, and you can't completely have a fair review without covering the changes and their impact on the total experience.

But traditional reviews still have their purpose, especially for games where it's not so easy for players to get a sampling before they commit cash and/or serious play time into the experience (because even if the game is free, time itself is a currency of sorts).

I think he means that gamers can probably go and try the game themselves instead of needing a review given that GaaS and sub models make it relatively low risk. He also mentions that there are other venues to consume that kind of content so people still looking for a traditional review have ways to get it.

Maybe they can find a middle ground; not going with scores in and of themselves but by comparing the game (or individual aspects of the game) to well-known games in that same genre or field and how the new release matches up with them in that aspect.

However that's not necessarily something most reviewers are probably able to do because it requires a deep amount of hands-on (or at least, very high theoretical) experience/knowledge of various games going back through years within the medium, sometimes even decades' worth of such experience or knowledge. Most reviewers are not up to that standard, sadly.

From what I hear Gertsmann is maybe one of the few who is? I'm just going by A.Romero A.Romero 's post on him, but I've also seen that sentiment echoed from time to time in other places.

Yes, to be honest that's the only thing that draws me to the podcast from time to time.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
I think he means that gamers can probably go and try the game themselves instead of needing a review given that GaaS and sub models make it relatively low risk. He also mentions that there are other venues to consume that kind of content so people still looking for a traditional review have ways to get it.



Yes, to be honest that's the only thing that draws me to the podcast from time to time.
Just because something is F2P and anyone can try it out, it's still worth knowing if a game is well received or not. And also different people play the game different and notice different things.

If that's one of Gertsmann's points about GAAS, its a disservice to just ditch doing analysis of a game.

When I download a Google app on my browser or Apple app on my phone, I like to know reviews too so I can trust the populace and skew to trying ones with higher scores and comments. I like to know what the community thinks about each one instead of me testing out 10 random free apps.

Maybe Giant Bomb is running out of ideas.

YT content creators can take one game and you'll have a ton of different takes.... speedrunner, item tester, bug finder, map analyzer, best and worst classes to use etc..... If Giant Bomb. I dont know what kind of discussions GB crew does on podcasts, but maybe one day I'll check them out and see what they talk about in one of their 1 hr clips.
 
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A.Romero

Member
Just because something is F2P and anyone can try it out, it's still worth knowing if a game is well received or not. And also different people play the game different and notice different things.

If that's one of Gertsmann's points about GAAS, its a disservice to just ditch doing analysis of a game.

When I download a Google app on my browser or Apple app on my phone, I like to know reviews too so I can trust the populace and skew to trying ones with higher scores and comments. I like to know what the community thinks about each one instead of me testing out 10 random free apps.

I get it. It doesn't mean that he won't talk about the games, don't worry. It just mean they will be using a different format.

I think they have quick looks and deep dives to talk about specific games. They also share opinions on their podcast.

On top of that there are many venues publishing reviews, they are just not interested in doing it.

Say whatever you want about Giantbomb but they have been ahead of the curve before.

Personally I go by GAF impressions if anything (I usually know what I'm interested in) so no big loss. Reviews in general are kind of flawed given that they depend on a subjective perception and the skill of the reviewer. It also depends if the reviewer had time to explore the game fully. I can't remember the last time a game review made me change my mind about a purchase decision.
 
Meh, i still look up reviews for tv shows and movies. There’s so much options these days who has the time to just channel surf all 100 streaming networks for everything? Same with games, so much shit is being unloaded and games take even more of a time investment.

It’s not realistic
 
Reviews are pretty pointless now for sure. I’d much rather watch a twitch stream or listen to a podcast for insight from individuals I trust.

Most games journalists now are pretty cretinous and not something worth valuing.

I used to fucking love Jeffs video reviews back on gamespot like 16 years ago. Man I miss the good old days. First time I’ve gone on gb since I canned my premium after ben and abby hires. I can’t say I’ll be back soon.

Movies are the only thing I care for reviews and that’s only from critics I know my views are aligned with.
 
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AJUMP23

Member
You learn more about the game from the conversation than the review, but the review will be here because that is what marketing consumes.
 
Reviews are generally a waste of time. People read the scores and find the sentences they either agree with or disagree with, and use them for mostly flame wars, just like Jeff wrote.

I would prefer game sites to pivot to more interesting writing. Stuff like Danny's No clip videos. Jeff musing on the industry is really interesting. I would love an autobiography series by Jeff on his life in the game industry. I guess I am more interested in human stories than peoples opinions on games. I have my own opinions, I don't need other people to tell me how to think and feel.
 
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So I read it, this is what i got out of it, every game is basically worth playing for $15 or free.
That was not what he wrote at all. He wrote reviews are about recommending time allocation over value, and that is better served by other formats than a written review.
 
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DarkMage619

Member
What a joke of a statement, comparing an incredible ass package like Halo Infinite to Crackdown 3? Man is a joke. Thank you to the OP for highlighting this. Now I can block everything related to that site lol.
He's been dead to me ever since his ToeJam and Earl 3 review. That game was a masterpiece dammit!
 

01011001

Gold Member
videogame reviews are useless, utterly useless. even worse game review scores...

the format TotalBiscuit had was perfect, he played a game for a few hours and then made a video walking you through the game's settings and gameplay mechanics
while giving game design notes that are important to know for you to decide if you might like the game or not.

that format is to the point and way more informative than any wannabe game journo writing an essay on a game they had to rush through in order to meet the embargo date

Giant Bomb has a similar format with their "Quick Looks" but they are not quite as detailed and to the point IMO
 

BigBooper

Gold Member
I'd think it's the opposite considering media content like video is much harder to produce than written reviews.

I'm not a huge fan of their content but I gather 2 things from Giantbomb: Gerstmann can be insufferable sometimes but his industry knowledge is second to none, the man is an encyclopedia and their technical quality is best in class. Not a lot of podcasts are as well produced as theirs, for example (not a big fan of video content in general so I can't comment).
Yes, produced and edited video is harder. Sitting down and recording a conversation or gameplay is not.
 

renzolama

Member
I give this guy a year or two before he progresses into full blown early onset dementia. He's like a 40 year old sad confused grandpa just now realizing that he dedicated the best half of his life to talking about video games. I hope for his sake that he at least became wealthy from starting giantbomb and selling it.
 
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bender

What time is it?
I never really read GiantBomb reviews anyway. To a lesser extent, GiantBomb is the reason why. Quick Looks and the Bombcast while not the genesis of the formats certainly did a lot to popularize them. I've been gaming so long that based on the ruts of my tastes, watching a 10-20 minute video of game is almost always going to tell me if I'm going to like a game or not.

I fell off of GiantBomb a few years back mostly because the new personalities they added on just were never my cup of tea but also because they were really hesitant to evolve and other outlets and independent creators caught up and surpassed them in production value and ideas. And sadly, that was the end of an era for me as I don't really subscribe to any gaming content these days. We've come a long way since Gaming Steve.
 
Seems like a fun campaign mixing thing up a bit, offering some exploration and another crapshoot story. I'm in for a heroic playthrough, see how I go ever playing a legendary run with some mates coop, when that's around.

I suspect Infinite is much like the discount food stuffs Costco/Ikea offer up knowing you're going to buy something else while you're there. I love gamepass, I ain't even mad. Hope Chief brings it but I'm not expecting a Halo 2.
 

renzolama

Member
Isnt giant bomb a graveyard now. I dont even go there anymore.
They lost me when they went full in on personality podcasts, stopped putting any effort into researching the statements they were making about games, and just started reading from their social media threads on the podcast every week. They shit on or praised so many games based on completely incorrect facts that they took straight from social media without even attempting to play the game and formulate their own opinions. The last year I listened to the game of the year podcasts, I turned it off after one of them was bragging about how he wouldn't even try a game that was on his biggest disappointments list because he knew it was so bad - imagine being a professional journalist/critic and admitting publicly that you haven't tried the media you're critiquing.
 
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Harts316

Member
Jeff is a salty and bitter guy. This is him trying to rationalize the fact that the industry has passed him by while he allowed his site rot.

it also has all of the classic potshots about what everyone else is doing and how he’s above it all. I’m sure all those SEO lists he mocks keeps those sites afloat so they can make more diehard content.

Jeff did this for years when they mocked streamers early on. Eventually those streamers did what he was doing better and made more money doing it.

it’s amusing that he’s writing this eulogy for the written review. Maybe it would have meant something if giant bomb had actually reviewed more than one game in two years.
 

BennyBlanco

aka IMurRIVAL69
Jeff is a salty and bitter guy. This is him trying to rationalize the fact that the industry has passed him by while he allowed his site rot.

it also has all of the classic potshots about what everyone else is doing and how he’s above it all. I’m sure all those SEO lists he mocks keeps those sites afloat so they can make more diehard content.

Jeff did this for years when they mocked streamers early on. Eventually those streamers did what he was doing better and made more money doing it.

it’s amusing that he’s writing this eulogy for the written review. Maybe it would have meant something if giant bomb had actually reviewed more than one game in two years.

"diehard content"?? like what? the big sites now are cranking out fortnite listicles, rewording press releases, and other zero effort garbage.
 
dude is a hack anyway, the sooner he retires his poisonous opinions from the hobby, the better.
I heard an opposite opinion of the bugs in Fallout 4 recent, that they are fun, typically unique to the player, and can break up a serious story telling.

Jeff spent years grandstanding about how buggy games are no longer acceptable after his Fallout 4 review. But they are. Audiences love them, seemingly more than overly polished games that come and go. It is refreshing to hear from people who aren't always trying to critique. It's an approach, sure, but there is more fun to be had.
 
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