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Zampella: Reviewers should finish games

Respawn bosses discuss games journalism.

Respawn Entertainment founder Vince Zampella feels there's "nothing more frustrating" than games journalists who review games without completing them.

Zampella was addressing QuakeCon as part of a panel on "Building Blockbusters" alongside Respawn co-founder Jason West, id Software's Tim Willits and Bethesda Game Studios' Todd Howard.

"I've seen reviews where people have written things about the game that are untrue - like that feature doesn't exist, so they obviously didn't play through the entire game," Zampella told the audience.

"There's nothing more frustrating than that. It's unfair."

Todd Howard said he thought that the standard of games journalism was improving as games became a bigger medium, and all the panelists agreed that a well-informed review is not only a boon to a game but to developers too.

"There's other reviews where they were critical on a few things and they were probably right, they called it, okay - and you can live with that. And there are some that are just glowing and you eat those up," Zampella said.

"Reviews. Yeah, that's a tough one," said Jason West. "You want to believe the good ones."

Todd Howard agreed with Zampella. "You want informed reviews. You can tell when someone has played your game and when it was an assignment to get the paycheque...

"If I'm going to play Modern Warfare multiplayer, I know that I'm in for 50 hours, so they do a lot of research, so when the research is a review where some guy didn't spend a lot of time playing your game, that's crushing.

"But if they're going to give you criticism and they've obviously played the game and thought about it, which we all get, it's actually helpful."

Towards the end of the panel, West also chimed in about review scores specifically.

"I'll put in a small pitch for what I think would be a better system of metrics, but it will never happen because people love numbers," he said.

"The way Rotten Tomatoes works for movies I think is a lot more accurate reflection of positive or negative, versus 92, versus 91.3, and they all get averaged out and it's pretty random."

Neither of the Respawn men said anything about their new project, which will be published by Electronic Arts, although they said they were evaluating technology at the moment.

At one point a member of the audience asked about handing sequels off to other developers and mentioned Treyarch, with whom West and Zampella used to share Call of Duty development during their former life at Infinity Ward, and West put his head in his hands for comic effect.

Otherwise the "divorce", as one audience member described it, was off limits for the hour-long discussion.

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About the Author
Tom Bramwell avatar

Tom Bramwell


Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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