‘Street’ hassle

Keith Stuart has written excellent analysis of one of the great mysteries of our time: why is the game FIFA Street topping the charts when all the reviewers reckon it’s a pile of pants? This bit’s priceless:

How videogame reviewers would like people to buy games:

1. Read reviews in dedicated videogame magazine

2. Make informed choice based on considerations of game depth

3. Go to independent game store and buy game

4. Play for many months, determined to wring every ounce out of the experience

How people actually buy games:

1. View a range of brilliantly produced TV adverts, created using jump cuts of pre-rendered footage, perhaps with the odd two or three micro-seconds of gameplay.

2. Choose a game that is attached to the most currently visible brand (at the moment that would be Dr Who, Frank Lampard and the Roman Catholic church)

3. Go into highstreet videogame chainstore where row upon row of shelving, as well as window areas and point-of-sale advertising space, has been bought up by the publisher of the game mentioned above.

4. Play alone for a few hours. Play for a few hours with mates. Consign to shelf, or return to highstreet videogame chainstore along with a couple of other neglected brand games, to trade them in for… FIFA Street.

This ties in nicely with all the guff about “New Games Journalism”, the quest to inject gonzo-style writing into video game magazines. I’m all in favour of better journalism, but NGJ depends on the first scenario – “how videogame reviewers would like people to buy games” – rather than the reality.

4 thoughts on “‘Street’ hassle

  1. gusto says:

    Regarding New Games Journalism, it’s a good read, but focussing on the experience of the game rather than the gameplay – or travel writing for gamers, as it was referred to somewhere or other – seems to work best when reviewing online games, or games where you interact with other people rather than just the game.

    Examples: http://www.alwaysblack.com/blackbox/bownigger.html
    http://www.alwaysblack.com/blackbox/possessingbarbie.html

    And that’s really not new or radical – internet journalists have been doing this for years; JC Hertz, Surfing the Internet, published in 1995, for example.

  2. Gary says:

    The main thing that scares me about new games journalism is the Hunter S Thompson effect: how many piss-poor sub-gonzo pages of crap have been churned out by the lad mags over the years? I suspect that for every one “Bow, Nigger” or barbie – which of course are great pieces – there’ll be one hundred really bad bits of NGJ.

    “Travel writing” thing was Gillen’s description, if my memory serves correctly.

    I think PC Gamer’s trying to get a bit more “proper writing”, but I haven’t read it for a while. really enjoying the new Edge though. Some really good features this month and Mr Biffo produced about a dozen painful belly laughs :-)

  3. gusto says:

    Oops, that should have been JC Herz in case you’re wondering why the book doesn’t show up on Amazon (a good read, btw, and currently listed for £3.91).

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