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Sturgeon's Law - Public Group
Steam reviews aren't participation trophies.
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Why so many negative reviews?
There's a few people who get really angry about seeing reviews that aren't participation trophies. Let's go into why not every game is a masterpiece that deserves gamers hard earned money.

A great science fiction author, Theodore Sturgeon, was questioned by a journalist who said 90% of science fiction was crud. In response, Sturgeon cleverly said "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud."

Most people will agree 90% of anything is crud. The same most certainly is going to be true for books in libraries, YouTube videos, reality TV shows... or video games on Steam.

(And for anyone wondering, while there's probably more than 90% negative at the moment, I have around 1,000 games backlogged for more investigation... now that I've hit over 10,000 reviews, it looks like probably more of an 85% than a 90%... sorry Mr Sturgeon).

Most people don't review bad games, they just ignore them and pretend they're not there. I'm doing something different, I'm honestly reviewing as many games as I possibly can. I never, ever bought a game with the intent of writing a negative review for it. Every game gets a chance to prove itself. Every game is held up to the same rigorous quality standards to see if it's one of the best the PC can offer to gamers.

Reviews are opinion. Everyone has an opinion. But some opinions are more qualified and more objectively developed than others, through experience, supported by fact and reason. Perhaps your opinion about a 2D iPhone ported retro pixel platformer that only runs in 480p resolution being sold to the 4K PC gaming elite will be different from mine. But people are entitled to their views, especially if those views are qualified with fact. It's my opinion that you, the PC gaming elite, deserve only the very best.

If you don't agree with my reviews, by all means put your money where your mouth is, buy the asset flip/shovelware/amateur games that I told you not to, and play them. I suspect you'll soon agree with me after you try some of the 90%.

A trend has emerged in recent years to give trophies to every child who attends a competitive event, even if they don't come close to winning. Participation trophies don't show that a great accomplishment has been made. In some ways they diminish the victory of the exceptional winners. Most reviews on Steam are participation trophies. The game runs? Thumbs up! We also see a trend towards positive reviews, because most reviews are written by gamers who saw the game, liked it, and bought it.

It does not seem right that just because someone paid the $100 required to publish a game on Steam, that it should have overwhelmingly positive reviews. I don't hand out participation trophies.

Most gamers don't play or try to review the games that I do. They don't buy every game bundle they see to try find hidden gems. I do. Most gamers completely ignore the games I review, and that's understandable... most of them really are crud.

Negative reviews aren't all bad. Positive reviews have less value. Why? Because of the reasons I will explore in this essay. Positive reviews are inherently biased. I believe the most valuable reviews are the negative ones. Read a negative review for a game. Understand what the problems are. If you can put those aside, then surely the game is exactly the kind of game you would want to play! Negative reviews can help gamers to decide to buy a game, because they will know what problems to expect, and can make an informed choice to accept them and buy the game with full knowledge. Negative reviews are the most honest and trustworthy.

No developer really wants to make a bad game. If every developer could make a game as popular and as technically and artistically as great as games like GTA:V, Deus Ex, Skyrim, World of Warcraft or Mass Effect, then that's what they would be doing. Unfortunately this really boils down to very basic problems where people want to do something but are simply unable to. This could be because they can't afford to hire anyone capable of programming modern PC graphics, or they lack the talent, ability, skill, or expertise to do this very crucial part of game development. To cover for this inadequacy, they resort to using game construction kits and Asset Store templates, which are meant to educate and make small demos to pass around with friends. They're not meant to replace the hard work of real software developers and game designers. Products that have been slapped together by filling out game construction kits or copying Asset Store packages are never going to be of a level of professional quality that I could recommend to other gamers.

So we see developers many, many times lowering their standards and delivering deficient products simply because they are incapable of doing any better. Of course we are all sympathetic for these people who had a dream of being competent game developers, but failed in that attempt. But I write my reviews about the products, not the people who make them. I can't recommend anyone should buy a product that is deeply flawed simply because the developer wasn't capable of doing any better.

Steam is a marketplace. I believe it's a very good one. Reviews in such a marketplace are directed towards the customers, in this case, the gamers, who must rely on the quality of reviews to determine whether to spend money on a particular game. Steam reviews are written to inform all the gamers, prospective buyers in the marketplace. A review should not be seen as a "punishment" or "reward" for a developer, because reviews are not written for the developers, they are written for gamers to inform their purchasing decisions. If a developer reads a review intended for gamers, and learns something about gaming as a result, this is good... but shouldn't they know this kind of thing before they attempt to develop a video game and publish it? The reviews I write are for the benefit of gamers, not the developers.

Steam reviews are not for just any gamers, they're for PC gamers. The PC is objectively the best platform for video games. But many games come to Steam without being PC games. They're made for consoles, or Flash, or the web, or mobile phones. These games, not made for PC, are not likely to be of the same excellent quality as games made directly for PC. But developers who make these substandard games will push them to Steam in the hopes of scraping a few more bucks out of a bad product. I will not recommend a mobile or console ported game to PC gamers unless it's incredibly exceptional.

PC gamers will spend several thousand on a gaming rig. These gaming PCs are incredible machines capable of presenting amazing 3D visuals at extremely high resolutions. But often products are deficient, perhaps because they lacked the talent or budget to work with 3D graphics. Perhaps they didn't bother making the game compliant with the 4K gaming rigs that have been around for years now. Perhaps they used lazy minimalist or pixel "art" because they couldn't afford to hire a video graphics engineer/designer. It's hard to recommend such a game because it won't provide the best experience for PC gamers.

Some of the reviews I write are for games that I don't have invested several hundred hours in. In almost every case, this is because it doesn't take very long to evaluate the quality of a game. If a game doesn't have proper support for modern PCs, crashes on launch, doesn't have proper controls, or doesn't display in high resolution, I can't recommend it, but it doesn't take very long to establish those kinds of facts. Likewise if the developer is unethical or has priced a game to punish, scam, or gouge PC gamers just for having a better gaming platform than mobile or console. If you ordered food at a restaurant and it was completely raw, it doesn't take long to establish that fact. Should you be expected to eat obviously bad food and let it digest for hours before
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Hollow Knight is a 2D retro "Metroidvania" platformer with a slightly dark, cartoony/fantasy theme. As a metroidvania, the 2D platforming/brawling loop is embedded in a larger, deeper background as you must progress both in your skills and abilities and in the story itself.

There are literally thousands of 2D retro platformers on Steam. Almost all of them are terrible, lazy cash grabs. Hollow Knight is an incredibly rare exception to this rule. It's not an asset flip or a construction kit copy + paste, it's a genuinely developed game with professional, AAA values that espouse the best gaming can offer.

While the game does feature only 2D graphics, the rest of the technical execution is top notch and provides a top tier gaming experience. The game looks and plays great on almost any system.

The extremely high quality of Hollow Knight, the deep and rich gameplay and the exemplary levels of polish and consideration for the gamer's experience make me glad to identify this as a rare exception above other 2D retro platformers, and recommend this game to gamers.
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Soya Jones Mar 23 @ 1:15am 
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9 raisins Jan 23 @ 9:25am 
:jarate:
pznull Dec 31, 2023 @ 9:57am 
In case I'm too drunk later on or just forget it, I wish you a Happy New Year! May 2024 be your best year ever! CHEERS! 🎆🍾🥂🥳🎉
SG Dec 31, 2023 @ 7:11am 
You're a bit early......a few hrs too early I might add....
Soya Jones Dec 31, 2023 @ 2:34am 
:100oj::100oj::100oj::shinealight::100oj::100oj::100oj::shinealight::100oj::100oj::100oj::shinealight::100oj::shinealight::100oj:
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    :shinealight:𝓗𝓪𝓹𝓹𝔂 𝓝𝓮𝔀 𝓨𝓮𝓪𝓻:shinealight:
pznull Dec 24, 2023 @ 2:20pm 
Merry Christmas everyone! Have a nice time with your family and friends! 🎄🎁