The Truth: SimCity Reviewers Have Failed Their Readers
Before I start this let me say that I think very highly of some reviewers who have entered a review for SimCity, that being said anyone who’s reviewed SimCity has failed their readers.
SimCity is broken, it’s a game that’s always online and if there’s any sort of problem with the connection it won’t work. That means if your internet goes out it won’t work, but it also means if the servers on the game’s side of things don’t work you won’t be playing either. All in all it’s a questionable design choice that has the possibility for a lot to go wrong.
There’s also a lot that can go right, having everyone online at all times means you can get more of a living world, everything happening is in real time.
Now enter SimCity, or don’t right now because the servers are down.
SimCity launched on March 5th, 2013 but the game was in reviewers’ hands before that. SimCity ran well for them but once the game launched to the general public it broke. SimCity is having multiple problems right now that makes it unplayable for a large chunk of users, those who are lucky enough to play the game, do so sporadically.
The problem is that right now there are over a dozen reviews of the game. They seem to be in two camps.
The “I played it before it went public” camp: These reviewers played the game before it launched. It’s common for a reviewer to get games before release and that way when the game launches they can have a review ready for people before they get a game on release day. The problem with following that formula with SimCity is what I said earlier, this game is always online interacting with everyone that’s playing. That means that if you publish the review before the game launches and before you have a chance to interact on that global scale you’re cheating your readers out of all the possible information, good and bad.
The “I played the very broken game” camp: As I said before, SimCity is barely playable for those who have been able to play it. It’s impossible for anyone who plays the game right now to know how it’ll play once everything is fixed. Too many things are going wrong in the game right now to offer a review that’s fair to readers.
Now generally a game should be reviewed on how it launches. Not everyone has internet access to all their devices and that means there’s a very good chance some people may not be able to update a game they buy and are stuck with a dud. One of the duties as a reviewer is to inform people about games that are broken and help people know to avoid those games or at the very least know what to anticipate when they buy them.
SimCity is different, it’s always online, which means that every single player who has the game will have a fixed version soon. There is not one player who will be stuck with this broken game.
In a week or two everyone’s copy will be working and a large chunk of reviews will be grossly inaccurate. Worst yet, is that for many sites that low score will stay, making people pass over the game thinking that even in its fixed form the game is a low quality piece of software not worth anyone’s time.
That’s where the reviewers have failed their readers. Their readers weren’t informed by their reviews, they were either mislead one of two ways with people thinking that it’s a great game when currently it’s broken or that it’s an awful game when they have no idea if it is or not.
While people who gave glowing reviews will eventually look like they got it right the people who gave it poor reviews will always be failing their readers. Yes, they could change the score, but some score aggregation sites don’t update their scores, so the problem just keeps on going.
Some of you are saying “Jason, that’s all fine and good but then what are reviewers to do? Should they constantly review always online games like SimCity and Guild Wars 2 over and over because they’re always changing?”
To answer that question I think that after a review is done on a game like this there should be a yearly review informing readers if the game has grown better or worse after a year of patches and changes.
A game like SimCity could be invaluable for people who have anxiety. A game that’s always on, always living, and there are always things to do. I can think of many people who suffer from different forms of anxiety that would welcome a game like this because of what it offers 24 hours a day whenever they need either distraction or relaxation.
The problem is that those people who look at the negative reviews elsewhere might miss this game because they’re reading a review that was rushed and done without reviewing the entire game.
That’s not to say that I think this game is great for people with anxiety, I honestly don’t know because the game isn’t stable enough to do my review yet.
Sure wish the other reviewers could say the same.