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"I'm in the midst of tearing through GoldenEye 007 so that we can get a review up for you and you can finally know exactly what to think about the game (please, please pick up on the sarcasm there)..."
Matthew Razak, Destructoid, on Goldeneye 007 Wii

For whatever reason, video gamers tend to, on the whole, place more stock in professional reviews of works than fans of any other medium. Only arguably second to news, reviews of the newest games are the main attraction of most gaming sites and magazines. In fact, review scores are just as likely to be used as personal opinions in Console Wars debates or to argue which of the newest Killer Apps is the best.

This is why 8.8 situations occur with such startling regularity. Of course, while there's nothing wrong in placing some stock in the opinions of others, review scores shouldn't be regarded as authoritative, simply because reviewers are, like everyone else, human beings with their own personal tastes and preferences. Not to mention that reviewers are not exactly always trustworthy. Worse still, professional reviewers are often just people with a job, and usually view gaming as a burden in order to complete their jobs, instead of a genuine hobby. Naturally, this causes them to often have different tastes than ordinary gamers, and enjoying the product is at best only a small part of their rating and at worst isn't even considered.

On the surface, one could say there's some logic behind all this — after all, purchasing a $60 game is a much riskier endeavor than buying a $15-20 book or a $10 movie ticket, so it makes sense that many people might look to something, even if it's a bad source. However, over-reliance on reviews is just as common in areas where software piracy is ubiquitous. Another reason perhaps is that video games as a medium demand more time and attention from us than most other entertainment forms, so most of us need to be discriminatory in the games we play. It's worth mentioning that reviews aren't without biases; and that again, quality is Your Mileage May Vary. What the critic finds to be So Okay It's Average you might find So Cool Its Awesome because it's practically tailored to your tastes and desires in a game; and the vice versa happens, too, often leading to Hype Backlash, Critical Dissonance and It's Popular, Now It Sucks situations.

Culturally speaking, this deference has existed for awhile, as aftershocks from The Great Video Game Crash of 1983. One of the big problems of first and second generation video games was the general absence of any detailed information about games. This leads to many, many upset consumers who had to guess whether a game was any good and quickly became frustrated to discover they just put a lot of cash down for a very poor port or imitation of an arcade game they thought they liked. This is the reason for the "Nintendo Seal of Quality" -- which wasn't supposed to mean "awesome game" so much as "playable game" as well as "Nintendo has licensed this game to be sold" (the 1st and 2nd generations also had games that were not licensed by Atari, which was part of the problem as they never had to go through quality control -- quality here meaning "playable"). Unfortunately, many seem to see reviews as the only means to get their information from, even though much more objective outlets exist, many of which can not be bought like professional reviewers can.

This mentality often hurts some works when people believe a reviewer's word to be law. Several times, reviewers become rather jaded and tend to be a bit mean to works they don't really really like years down the road. Not to mention, some reviewers often have a Bias Steamroller, which can also cause them to take points off of a work merely because they have certain pet peeves, or add points because they like the franchise. In some of the worst cases, this leads to people Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch.

The overall effect: games sometimes cater to what developers believe will get them a good review score instead of what fans will like. After all, what's the point in making games people will enjoy if the reviewers hate them and no one buys games the reviewers hate regardless?

This mentality has started to decline in recent years, at least with the video games, after companies like Ubisoft have been found to be attempting to fix reviews by threatening to withhold games or money in advertisement. Because this is a business, reviewers are often very wary about angering the people paying a large portion of their salaries (advertisements). There are hints that this has started awhile ago with magazines and sites saying stuff around the lines of, "7 is the lowest we can give this without Sony pulling advertisements" and how in general, a lot of very hyped games received a much more detailed review than games without that much advertisement. The advertisement as well as copies of games being withheld has been mentioned before, especially after the Kane and Lynch and Assassin's Creed fiascoes, in which the developers complained to GameSpot and EGM about wasted advertisement money. Nintendo Power is also known for refusing to criticize any game developed or published by Nintendo for this very reason.

Of course, the reason that publishers want good reviews is not out of any sense of pride but due to some correlation between good reviews and good sales. Quick! How many people among you, your friends, and your family would be willing to buy a game that rates 3 out of 10 with the reviewer panning the gameplay? How many would at least be willing to look at and consider a game that got 9 out of 10 with the reviewer praising the gameplay? For developers, reviews may be much more a point of pride but even then, developers will worry about the monetary aspect if only because they're under the thumb of publishers who may not give developers contracts if they don't make money (no matter how good the game may or may not be).

Also said to be a phenomenon among fans of live theater. Indeed, reviews can influence the act itself over time, replacing actors or modifying scenes slightly.

The exploit of this mentality is also a common marketing practice. Books often make a big point of showing that they are a bestseller or are written by the author of a bestseller or quote positive reviews on the back, movies run trailers after release that say something along the lines of, "Critics agree -- this movie rocks", and video game advertisements often show scores from sites like IGN and, like books, quote the reviews. This is also part of why there exist "Game of the Year" releases, key word being "part of".

A Subtrope of Misaimed Fandom. Over-adherence to the word of a critic can lead to He Panned It, Now He Sucks if the critic ends up giving an unfavourable review to something the fan loves.

Examples of Reviews Are the Gospel include:


New Media

  • In the IGN.com comments (and probably every other gaming website) on reviews of games that have either not been publicly released yet or have just been released on that very day, you'll often see about a hundred comments' worth of arguments between people who "know" the game deserves more than the review score and people who "know" the game deserves either the score it got or lower. All this bickering from people who haven't even played (or come close to finishing) the game yet is an example of 8.8 and Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch, but it seems to be rooted in a near-religious belief in this trope. People try to refute or defend the review as if it's a scientific experiment. One that they haven't done yet, to boot.
  • GameSpot, while not reviewing Backyard Baseball 2009, mentioned it in an article where they criticized the child announcing. The article has been defended by many people, mostly after seeing just the article and not playing the game. But child announcing has been in the Backyard Sports series since the beginning, and the first game came out one year after GameSpot started. So have the writers of GameSpot been hiding under a rock for 12 years, and are the people defending them complete idiots?
    • ... did they complain that the announcing was a new change for the worse, or does the above complaint make no sense?
  • Many people take Yahtzee's reviews seriously, despite his known aversion to praising any game, including good ones, Portal, Psychonauts, In Famous, Prototype and Saints Row 2 being among the exceptions. Not to mention, the enormous Bias Steamroller that he often drives and starts trashing the game based upon its genre or fanbase. It was shown by the backlash to his Psychonauts review, and in his review to Bioshock he said, "nobody likes it when I'm being nice to a game" at the very opening (he even said BioShock was perhaps worthy of the "game of the year" title, showing that he actually did like it).
    • This sadly has led to a lot of people who were somehow experts on games and genres they admit they have never played or even owned and often carbon copying opinions about a game when the obligatory discussion(s) came out after he reviewed a game (this for some odd reason even led to people accepting Oblivion - whereas saying anything positive about it beforehand would get the fans savaging your intelligence and sexual orientation).
    • On the flip side an absolutely incredible amount of people will take huge levels of offense over his reviews, and dismiss them entirely, simply because he writes them with a humorous streak. Plus he has, more than once, pointed out he's a critic rather than a "straight" reviewer: discussing the flaws and weaker sides of a game.
    • It's also a case of not understanding the way Yahtzee presents his viewpoint. He exaggerates and focuses on the bad parts, is sparing with his praise and if he doesn't mention something, it was at the least average, if not good. He'll sometimes sing the praises of a game based on the concept or the attempt to be different even if he thinks the game is subpar, and will also lambast a good game for being too generic. He'll also be harsh on a game he likes because it's good but could be so much better, baring a few mistakes or examples of laziness or lack of ambition.
    • Yahtzee even outright stated once, "Reviews are mostly formed by opinions, and if you really love something, then another person's opinion shouldn't matter."
  • This has actually happened a little bit with The Angry Video Game Nerd averting some of the well placed nostalgia. Before he reviewed Castlevania II, some user reviews varied from "awesome", to So Okay It's Average, mostly saying Castlevanias 1 and 3 were better. Then when he reviewed it, it seems a lot of people actually hated the game a lot more than they originally did. And even if that was his first game he reviewed (it shows if you see the video), his most recent review had him say that despite his criticisms and complaints, the game was still an okay game.
    • However, not everyone takes The Angry Video Game Nerd's reviews seriously, since he's obviously trying a little more to be funny, on top of averting the omnipresent Nostalgia Filter.
  • An article in Kotaku claimed that Japanese gamers were dissatisfied with Dragon Quest IX entirely because the Amazon Japan review scores were extremely low. In addition to the strange idea of gauging game quality via Amazon scores, the article became something of a laughingstock when it got out that the scores were the result of a spam attack by disgruntled users of 2chan in the first place.
  • The last part of Atop the Fourth Wall's Ultimates 3 review has Linkara berate the fans for buying into this, going so far as ridiculing them for accepting his reviews as the gospel, to explain why he thinks crap stuff like what he reviews continues to get published. Turns out, it's his Evil Knockoff Mechakara doing the review, while Linkara was on vacation...
    • He also (satirically and in an over the top manner) complains about this mindset in his Shopping Guide episode.
    • Linkara's words in the Ultimates review do still apply, despite being a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. This trope has been instrumental in some fairly obscure comics, such as JLA: Act of God, getting pages on this site so that tropers can parrot Linkara's opinions without actually having read the comics in question.
  • Pitchfork lacks an editorial policy, and has been known to take part in some very unethical practices. It does not state for the record how its ratings systems work, though the best guess of many is that 7.0 is the de facto standard of what is considering a "good" record or album, let alone one that qualifies for the prestigious "Best New Music" badge. Further, many of their reviews are questionably written. Any hipster will use their logic to deny reading it, let alone influence their record-buying/pirating decisions, especially after it began its partnership with ABC. But ever since the Arcade Fire's Funeral LP, any time Pitchfork gives a "Best New Music" badge to an album from a new and upcoming band, that album's sales/downloads will significantly increase, and the band's rep will increase exponentially. It's very difficult to deny that their reviews are considered influential over the hipsters to some degree.
    • Keep in mind that Pitchfork reviews mostly obscure bands, though; sure, The Very Best may have gotten a boost from the positive review, but that's just because few people had heard of the album and decided not to buy it beforehand. Now, if they review the new Alice in Chains album positively and that gets a large boost, that's a different issue.
      • While indeed it does review more obscure bands, it still takes the time to review pop artists and such, possibly as a means to maintain credibility to the rest of the world (ABC feeds them money, apparently).
  • The sites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, due to their system of deriving an overall score for a film out of all the available reviews, are often regarded as providing a definitive stamp of quality (or lack thereof). While this is more understandable than most examples, the fact remains that some people take it too far, and act as though liking a film scoring 33% on Rotten Tomatoes is empirically indefensible, despite the obvious logic that one third of professional film critics liked it.
    • This has become particularly horrifying since actual video game companies are now incorporating metascores into their business practices; this includes awarding development teams bonuses based on metascores, and deciding on a target metascore before a game has started development, and perpetrators include publishers as major as Electronic Arts and Square Enix. It is no longer possible to pretend that Metacritic is harmless.
      • A good example is Obsidian Entertainment. They had a deal with Bethesda that the last portion of Bethesda's payment for Fallout: New Vegas was based on reaching a certain Metacritic score. They missed it by one point, didn't get the payment, and were forced to lay off massive amounts of staff. The score they needed to reach? 85. They got an 84. Keep in mind, that is still an extremely high score and the game also went on to sell over 5 million copies. In other words, a best-selling game with massive critical praise still cost the studio money because of a review aggregate score.
    • Metacritic also has its own problems since it attempts to take reviews from multiple competing sites with their own scoring systems and derive a numerical score out of their average. Some critics, such as Adam Sessler, have pointed out the problems with creating an average score out of a series of dissimilar scoring systems.
      • This is most obvious when they try to base their numerical score on sites that use letter grades. The site can anything from 50-80 out of a C.
    • And, it's also had problems where thinking that disagreeing with the opinions and not finding it that great (or even thinking it was okay but still good) will have you hung from a tree, hangman style. Particular offenders for this include The Dark Knight and Toy Story 3.
      • The opposite happens with movies that readers expect to be horrible. When the scores for Disaster Movie and Jack and Jill moved from a zero to a two because of one positive review (although the scores were only a C+ and a 3/5, respectively), members commented within seconds, saying that the critic is an idiot, ruined it for everyone, etc.
    • Metacritic has also shown bias and given strictly averaged tone review (5/10) a positive ranking (6/10) and the reverse. Making the site less honest.
  • Just try saying that Rock-a-Doodle and Tom and Jerry: The Movie were alright movies anyplace on the Internet. You're sure to be flamed by legions of Critic fans.
    • This is also because before he reviewed them the movies weren't very well known, and now people only know about them because of the Nostalgia Critic reviews.
    • This also applies to other movies he's reviewed. For example, in The Flintstones Movie, he appears to trash it at first because "It's The Flintstones." Immediately after; several people were blindly agreeing that The Flintstones sucked for the same reason. And more recently, this happened to Stephen King's IT and Stephen King as a whole [1], when the response wasn't He Panned It, Now He Sucks.
    • This is despite the fact that Doug has gone on record that most of the time he doesn't actually hate the movies but he does Accentuate the Negative for comedic effect. Most of the time they're just mediocre to decent movies, albeit with genuine flaws (although what movies doesn't have them?). A lot of the flaming comes from his fans Completely Missing the Point.
      • The melodramatically titled and huge IMDb list "Movies that are destroying the planet Earth" consists of nothing but films reviewed by either the critic or associates.
    • The Critic has gone against this notion a few times, once out of character (by listing 10 popular things he hates and 10 unpopular things he loves), and once in-character (where he did a negative review of James and the Giant Peach that was constantly interrupted by guntoting fans to make him give a glowing review). Doug never believes that he is the gospel and wants people to stop seeing him as such - a good way of seeing this is to watch both his and Spoony's "Best/Worst of the Decade" lists and noting the overlap - quite a few are Worst for one, Best for the other.
  • Do not disagree with Spoony on Final Fantasy VIII. You are obviously a blind fanboy if you do so (and you're gay or a yaoi fangirl). This is now starting to spread into Final Fantasy X as he has moved his targets there. The Spoony One is an exaggerated Internet persona though, so the real Noah Antwiler won't really berate you for it. His Fan Dumb might though.
  • The Nostalgia Chick has a lot of teenage male fans who enjoy trying to prove their masculinity. She tears apart girly movies for a living. You do the math.
  • Of all of the That Guy With The Glasses community, no one suffers most from this than The Cinema Snob. Yes, many movies he reviews really are bad. But keep in mind that he is also a parody of True Art critics. As such, he will pan the occasional average movie for the sake of comedy. People will take him seriously. While it is typically easy to tell when he actually does hate a movie and he isn't acting, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. For reference, he once praised the movie Salo. For the sake of decency, we will not summarize it further, but suffice to say that the movie was 50% artsy pretentiousness (something that True Art critics like) and 150% concentrated evil. People thought he actually liked it, even as his praises were interspersed between scenes of him either throwing up on camera, or trying desperately not to(and ultimately failing).
    • After all, Brad's REAL favourite movie is Caligula.
  • The new cases of this stem from Oanitizen and his (generally) art-house reviews, which usually have commenting sections filled with complaining about the quality of the film, people stating that this is why they don't take whatever political thing it might be addressing seriously, and comments running from "this isn't art" to encouraging selective censorship of art. All for just some films that you often wouldn't see outside of film festivals and your DVD player.
  • In 2012, Phelous' negative review of the 2009 TV movie Turtles Forever led to a LOT of panning of said movie around the Internet, including a few negative edits on its TV Tropes pages. Up until that review hit the 'Net, though, there were very few (if any) flat-out negative reviews of the movie.
    • ...Which is weird because Doug Walker (as himself rather than the Critic) gave it a positive review earlier.

Film

  • In-movie example: In Spider-Man 3, Mary Jane is removed from the lead of a play after reviews panned her.
    • Well, partially justified... The reviews stated that she was a competent singer, but didn't have the power for Broadway, since her voice couldn't reach past the front row.

 Peter: What are you talking about? I heard you just fine!

MJ: Pete, you were in the front row!

    • The screwy thing is that it was only one review, but enough to get her replaced.
      • And something that glaring of a flaw would have been noticed way before opening.
      • Actually, MJ only thought it was just one review. Then the producers of the play told her that almost every reviewer in town had said the same thing... after they had already replaced her with someone else.
  • Similarly, in Ratatouille, a world famous chef's reputation and life were destroyed by a harsh critic who had a personal grudge stemming from a differing opinion.
  • In real life, the film Gigli opened to overwhelmingly negative reviews after weeks of bad press and negative hype. Critic Amy Dawes, writing for Variety, dared to express her opinion that...she kind of liked it in spite of the stupid story. This got her fired from Variety.

Music

  • Inverted by Metallica's St. Anger album, which got positive reviews and won multiple awards... despite being reviled by nearly every fan of the band (or even genre), and eventually even by the band itself.
    • Seems to also have happened with Iron Maiden's A Matter Of Life And Death, which got five star reviews much to the confusion of most fans. The reason fans found this confusing was that A Matter was praised for its long songs, repetition and bleak feel - the very criticisms given to the Blaze Bayley albums which people were encouraged by critics to avoid.
  • Also in some fandoms there are plenty of albums which get bad reviews but which fans will still talk about endlessly. Very commonly happens with one hit wonders, or at least bands who were only famous with one album.

Professional Wrestling

  • Smart Marks following Dave Meltzer's (of the Wrestling Observer) reviews of matches. There are only a few instances (in the US, at least) where he gives a match a five star rating.

Stand-Up Comedy

  • Paula Poundstone once talked about forming opinions based on reviews in a special of hers, averting this trope.

 Paula: Not that you can take another person's opinion for anything; not even a reviewer. Did you know that when The Wizard of Oz first came out it was badly reviewed? Yeah. They said it was "Stupid and unimaginative."

Television

  • Some people still take X-Play's reviews far too seriously, despite the fact that everyone knows their hatred of certain genres and even certain series of games, their tendency to give most games a 2/5, or on the flipside, their strange ability to read far too much into their scores, veering straight into 8.8 territory.
    • And several reviews actually aren't Adam and Morgan's own opinions and are someone else's, they're just reading from a script.
    • They also have to repeatedly point out that they're reviewing the game, not the license it's based on. This still doesn't stem the letters of irate anime fans whenever they give a low score to a bad licensed game.

Notes

  1. even though the Critic has praised some of the movies based on his works before
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