Features

Site Stuff: How We Handle Reviews

Hi, my name’s Chris and I’m the guy who is in charge around here. And don’t you people forget it, or else. Nah, I’m just having a bit of fun. From time to time I like to post a bit of site news to the homepage. Why? Well, it’s to keep you people informed on what’s going on with your beloved Pure PlayStation.

See, I believe it’s important for us to be as clear as possible. By that I mean myself and the team declaring whenever we’ve been handed freebies and such. In all honesty, we don’t really get any extravagant stuff through the mail, though we do regularly get review codes/discs for new releases. Typically, we’ll approach the publisher or they’ll approach us and we’ll agree to certain terms and conditions in regards to receiving a copy of the game early. Sounds a bit shady, doesn’t it? Trust me, it’s not. In fact, it’s pretty much straightforward but I’ll explain it anyway.

What’s the deal with free games for reviews and previews?

When we receive games early for the purpose of a review or a preview, we’re sometimes asked to agree to certain conditions. Typically these are just dates and times for when our reviews/previews can go live, things that we shouldn’t spoil for players; so plot-twists and the like. Fair enough, really. Some may think that there are darker terms and conditions, but in truth, I’ve personally never come across them in my time doing this job. That being said, if a publisher was to try to influence us in any way or ask us to do something we think could be misleading to our readers, we’ll give them both middle fingers. We’re professionals.

But… You publish reviews early? Why?

Now it’s true that sometimes we post reviews earlier than other sites. In fact, we’ve probably posted a few reviews where we were the first in the world. Wow, sounds special, doesn’t it? It’s not, it’s really simple. In these instances we’ve either not received a code/copy of the game from the publisher, or by happen-chance we’ve acquired a copy of the game by other means. No, that doesn’t mean we hijacked a truck. It means that we bought it from a store that broke the release date.

When this happens, we tend to be able to play the game and get a review out before the rest of the gaming media sites have even finished installing their review copies. Does it benefit us? Of course it does, obviously, but it also benefits you, too. See, I and the rest of the guys at Pure PlayStation aren’t too fond of publishers placing release day embargoes on games. This is usually¬†is a tell-tale sign that the game is a dud, though not always. We hate the idea of average Dave going into Tesco (because he despises GAME) on release day, getting himself a copy of whatever game it is and finding out it’s not worth the disc it’s printed on. Isn’t it always better to be able to have something – anything – to help you in your buying decision?

I’ve been stung in the past by this practice which is unfortunately becoming much more commonplace in the industry, so I know what it’s like to be on the wrong end of the poo-stick, and that’s why I’ll always do my best to put my honest thoughts into straight-talking reviews that are littered with terrible jokes. Which brings me on to my next point…

Why are some reviews different in style?

I recently did our review of Watch Dogs 2 on PS4. It was a great game and that always makes writing a review a pleasure; it’s so much easier to be positive in writing than it is to be negative. I enjoy putting my words onto the page and I try to put as much of myself into a review as I can. However, one comment on the Watch Dogs 2 review complained that I reference myself too much and that I should keep it objective so as not to sound “amateurish.”

To this I say… Cadswallop. Reviews are by their very nature subjective. One man’s gold may be another man’s poo, and vice-versa. Pure PlayStation is a little different when compared to other gaming websites in that we don’t strive to make every article sound the same. We don’t try to cram fancy words into our reviews just for the sake of looking smart (we all look smart anyway) and we especially don’t like our words coming across as monotonous drivel. For other sites that may work, but for us lot it’s a bit nuh-uh. We’re all individuals here at Pure PlayStation, and we have our individual experiences with games, so it’s only right that we write our reviews from our own perspectives based on our own experiences.

Take me for example: I’m a light-hearted guy who likes to have a muck around and a joke in my everyday life. Naturally, then, I want to put that into my reviews. If I think I can make my 1500-word review a little more enjoyable by planting some groan-worthy gags in there, you can bet all your dollars, euros, pounds, and pesos that I’m gonna do it.

Then we have Jason who’s pretty much the opposite of me. He’s got a good sense of humour but he’s not the class clown like I am, much to the annoyance of my co-workers. His reviews will read much differently than mine, as will every other review from everyone else on the team. So, yeah. Individuality, yo. Girl power! Nope. Too far, Chris, always too far.

What about review disclaimers? What about different versions of PS4?

Something you’ll see on every review we publish here is a small note at the bottom that explains how we got our copy of the game, no matter whether it came from a publisher or if it was bought by one of the team. It’s also worth noting that, since the release of the PS4 Pro, we started adding a little note that declares which PS4 unit we reviewed a game on. For the most part our reviews will be done using a regular PS4 or the PS4 Slim. Why? Simply because most people don’t have the PS4 Pro yet. However, we may give the game a go on the PS4 Pro so that we can comment on whether it looks nicer or runs better, but 95% of any game’s review will be on a non-Pro PS4.

Chris’ Closing Comment

Reviews are written for you, the readers, and we put every effort to make sure what we’re writing is useful to you. We’ll never review a game we haven’t played (as some sites clearly do for the traffic) and we’ll never mislead you about how we got our copy of the game. Trust is important and we’re constantly working our nuts off to be a site that you can visit with confidence.

And the moolah. What? Our site fees aren’t cheap. ‘Course we make a few quid, but 99% of the money made goes back into the site. The other 1% is being invested in space exploration. We will be the first site based in space, that’s a promise. (It’s not.)

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