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Mock Reviewing? Is that a Thing?

ANTVGM64ANTVGM64 Registered User regular
Hi there! So, while most everyone was understandably losing their collective shite over the AC: Unity debacle this past December, I kept hearing rumblings about Mock Reviewers and companies that are essentially hired by gaming companies to give them feedback on their games and so on.

Is this like...a real thing, or a small thing that was blown out of proportion, because it sounds awesome?

I've been writing about games for years and have...hundreds of reviews written, a degree, and references up the Animus. I google it and get all sorts of weird results and nothing really concrete. What is the technical term for the person who writes a review / report on a game's positives and negatives prior to release to help out the PR company? Would I be better suited looking at PR companies, in-house devs, or game-consulation firms?

And is this a thing where they want folks with a degree in game developments despite the gig being about reporting on the 'consumer experience'?

Not sure if this made sense, just wanted to write it down and ask before I forgot to bring it up!

Posts

  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Caaba Beankomy XobthroRegistered User regular
    edited January 2015
    The words you're looking for are shill review.

    JebusUD on
    And I won, so you lose,
    Guess it always comes down to.
  • WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    edited January 2015
    JebusUD wrote: »
    The words you're looking for are shill review.

    No

    'Mock reviews' are real, although I'm not sure if there is a technical name for them. Its sort of like focus testing, but instead the game company is paying another company of game reviewers to grade their game. Not for public consumption, but for internal use so as to know what major issues are or know what public reception to the game may be before release.

    Wassermelone on
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  • Bendery It Like BeckhamBendery It Like Beckham Hopeless Registered User regular
    edited January 2015
    You're probably looking at a PR firm for who does these 'Mock Reviews' as it seems the realm of what PR is normally meant to handle, how people see your shit.

    Bendery It Like Beckham on
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  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited January 2015
    A quick google turns up a few companies. Here's a couple:

    http://www.evolve-pr.com/services/game-consultations-and-mock-reviews/

    http://www.eedar.com/Services/MockReviews.aspx

    This was a very cursory search for "game mock review" so they're not hiding or anything. You can easily do some research.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited January 2015
    With bigger companies, it may well be internal as well. That is they have someone in house who writes reviews and scores their games.

    While that sounds like a good Q&A type check, what it usually leads to is the company expecting to get that score in the real world and doing things like late embargoes, sending copies to YouTubers, or tying pay/bonuses of the employees to the Metacritic score.

    Experience with game development would not be valuable; possibly a detriment. I would guess journalism/English would be better. Experience with the industry so you know how to write a Kotaku review, or a Brad Shoemaker review.

    Edit: the Dortito/Mt Dew photo op and the Free PS3 tweet are two big times that stuff comes up.

    MichaelLC on
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  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Caaba Beankomy XobthroRegistered User regular
    edited January 2015
    JebusUD wrote: »
    The words you're looking for are shill review.

    No

    'Mock reviews' are real, although I'm not sure if there is a technical name for them. Its sort of like focus testing, but instead the game company is paying another company of game reviewers to grade their game. Not for public consumption, but for internal use so as to know what major issues are or know what public reception to the game may be before release.

    I'm confused. So there are people who write basically shill reviews for the PR company but then they aren't released? Or they are released under the game company's name?

    JebusUD on
    And I won, so you lose,
    Guess it always comes down to.
  • wrong_buttonwrong_button Registered User regular
    I can't speak to the game industry specifically, but in marketing we commission things like this to get a jump on of potential criticisms. It helps our PR flacs and execs to have a pat answer to common questions or criticisms and make sure we have a consistent response across all channels. Last thing you want is your CEO or other execs caught flat footed in an interview. Depending on who it is, these act like Wassermelone said. Focus groups tend to be more customer oriented, mock reviews tend to lean toward professional/critic/media response.

  • FireflashFireflash Montreal, QCRegistered User regular
    edited January 2015
    JebusUD wrote: »
    JebusUD wrote: »
    The words you're looking for are shill review.

    No

    'Mock reviews' are real, although I'm not sure if there is a technical name for them. Its sort of like focus testing, but instead the game company is paying another company of game reviewers to grade their game. Not for public consumption, but for internal use so as to know what major issues are or know what public reception to the game may be before release.

    I'm confused. So there are people who write basically shill reviews for the PR company but then they aren't released? Or they are released under the game company's name?

    I've seen it at my office. I helped set up the room when they did it for the project I was working on. I think they were actual reviewers. A few weeks before the game was gold they came into the room every day for a week to play the game as much as possible and give us an honest review. These reviews don't get released to the public. They are instead used internally to get an idea of what actual reviews at launch might look like and the marketing team uses this data to alter their plan. Glowing mock reviews might lead to a more agressive and arrogant marketing push just before launch while middling reviews might lead to the marketing push being scaled back a bit.

    Edit: less than stellar mock reviews also lead to the well known and dreaded review embargos!

    Fireflash on
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  • WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    JebusUD wrote: »
    JebusUD wrote: »
    The words you're looking for are shill review.

    No

    'Mock reviews' are real, although I'm not sure if there is a technical name for them. Its sort of like focus testing, but instead the game company is paying another company of game reviewers to grade their game. Not for public consumption, but for internal use so as to know what major issues are or know what public reception to the game may be before release.

    I'm confused. So there are people who write basically shill reviews for the PR company but then they aren't released? Or they are released under the game company's name?

    'Shill review' implies that they are paying for a good review. They are not. They are paying for an honest assessment of the game so as to properly position it in the market. And it doesn't go external; they are highly confidential.

  • TubeTube Administrator, ClubPA admin
    The concept bears no relation at all to the concept of shilling.

    Hobnail wrote: »
    This forum has taken everything from me
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  • November FifthNovember Fifth Registered User regular
    They talk about this sometimes on gaming podcasts.

    Jeff Gerstmann was considering taking on work like this after the Gamespot firing.

    EA asked Jeff Green to do a mock review for one of their titles, although they did not hire him specifically for that purpose.

    So, they definitely seem to want people with professional review experience, but my impression is that the demand for this work is so low, it can mostly be filled in house or on a contract basis.

  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Caaba Beankomy XobthroRegistered User regular
    That makes sense. I didn't realize this was a thing. Thanks guys.
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    And I won, so you lose,
    Guess it always comes down to.
    Wassermelone
  • VeeveeVeevee WisconsinRegistered User regular
    edited January 2015
    Just send emails and make contacts within the every studio you could think of. It obviously isn't an advertised job listing, so it's a matter of putting yourself out there and selling yourself enough to get the company to notice you. Then I believe the incredibly important and difficult part, making them respect your opinion enough to want your input.

    This is very much an email 100 people, maybe get 10 responses, and 1 of those might lead to an interview type of job search.

    Veevee on
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