Friday, October 24, 2008

New Review Scale

While I like the ideas behind my old review scale, I took a hard, objective look at it and realized... it's kind of stupid.

The descriptions add an extra layer of complexity to something that I wanted to just keep as simple as possible. To an outside observer, it would take longer to decipher the real difference between "delcious!" "mediocre!" and "digusting!" without having it explained to them, and that's completely against the entire philosophy of my review scale.

The whole reason I stripped it to three ranks was because I felt that numbers were arbitrary. I still stand by that sentiment. Honestly, what's the difference between a 67 and a 68, or a 6.7 and a 6.8, or even a 6 and a 7? But then again, at least people are familiar with that number scale. Having a personal scale that only applies to this blog? Stupid.

Beyond that, there were still flaws in my rating scale. Having a middle rank was always kind of a cop-out for myself, so the decisions wouldn't be quite so tough because some games really do seem to sit right in the middle of the scale sometimes.

Then I realized that spending time and money on a game is even simpler than that. Either you do or you don't. Whether a game comes out to an 8/10 or a 74/100 or a D-, it's always reduced to a binary value: "Based on the review score, I will/won't spend my time and/or money on this game."

This leaves me to present the new (hopefully final) scale:

Thumbs Up!      Thumbs Down!

It's a pretty self-explanatory scale: A "Thumbs Up!" rating means the game is worthy of your time and money, and a "Thumbs Down!" rating means the game is not worthy of your time or money. Simple as that.

Many reviewers have expressed resentment that the general public seems to skip over the text of the review and jump directly to the score. I feel differently. It allows people that aren't invested enough in a game to read the entire review to just get a quick thumbs up or down assessment. Occasionally there are times where I'm personally just not interested enough in a game to go deeper than finding out more than the basic "how was it?" And depending on the score, I might go back and read the review to learn more about the game.

I feel that the rating should be the most concise version possible of my review. My goal is that by the time you've reached the end of the review, you don't even need to see the rating because you already know what I'm going to put. You should never be surprised by the rating I've given a game if you've read the review.

I'll have some tough decisions to make with the games that feel unworthy of a "Thumbs Up!" yet a "Thumbs Down!" feels harsh, but I think that it leads to a much better experience for the reader.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Microsoft Offering Free Storage To Arcade/Core Users

Microsoft has made a lot of poor decisions this hardware cycle, and they haven't handled many of them too well. So when news broke that their "New Xbox Experience" would take 128MB of space, call me cynical, but I really didn't expect Microsoft to remedy the situation quickly or generously.

Well, hot dog.

Microsoft has come through for the Arcade and Core users that would've otherwise been screwed by this update in both a quick and generous way. Free 512MB memory cards or $19.99 20GB refurbished hard drives can be redeemed by Arcade/Core users here. An impressive move by Microsoft, and one that's surely going to drive their profits down even further. Bold.

Contrast that with Nintendo, who have been promising to remedy their own storage concerns for months now and have produced nothing. Nintendo, the company where they drive to work in cars made of money after having a nice hot money bath and kissing their wives (also made of money) goodbye, have no solution in sight. No free SD cards for Wii users! Never!

And contrast all of that with Sony, who everyone lambasted when they first announced the ridiculous $599.99 price tag. At the very least, we should give Sony credit for truly fulfilling their promise of making the PS3 future proof. Everybody's got at least a 20GB hard drive, everybody's got wireless network access, everybody's got HDMI, etc.

The only thing I'd truly accuse Sony of doing incorrectly is not being more aggressive to drive the price down, especially this holiday season. Mind you, even though they "have no plans" to cut the PS3's price any time soon and think what they offer is "an excellent value proposition" (it is), that doesn't change the fact that the PS3 is now twice the price of an Xbox 360.

Again though, kudos to Microsoft for offering up such a quick solution to this. Let's set aside any claims of "they should just offer a hard drive with every 360" and the like and just give Microsoft credit for finally handling a crisis maturely and efficiently.