Tougher Previews from IGN?

Buried in a post on Matt Casamassina’s blog comes word of what could be a rather large realignment of the preview system at IGN. While discussing some hands-on time with the Wii at the Leipzig Games convention, Casamassina indicates that the site will be “adopting a very realistic, up-front approach to previewing games … pointing out strengths and weaknesses of builds and then bullet-pointing everything at the end of the articles.” Matt only promises this approach for hands-on Wii reports, but mentions that other section EICs at IGN seem to like the idea.

What’s even more impressive is the mea culpa on old previews that comes along with this promise:

… Readers have in the past complained that previews sometimes don’t match-up with reviews; in other words, we write glowingly optimistic first looks and then slam the game months later in a review. This definitely has and does happen because we always want to give a game the benefit of the doubt, and so our previews are intentionally optimistic. But going forward, we’re going to make an effort to list every up and down of the games we play — note that basic, non-hands-on previews may remain optimistic because we can’t critique a product we haven’t played.

I’ve talked about preview bias — the disconnect between optimistic previews and critical reviews — in the past, and it looks like the idea is catching on in at least some corners (not that this necessarily has anything to do with me). It’s about time too… it’s gotten to the point where I can’t read previews in many publications without cringing at obvious problems that are obviously glossed over with a wishful thinking brush.

Ideas are one thing, though, and implementation is another. Casamassina points to his hand-on impressions of Elebits and Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam as evidence of this new system, and while there are some negatives in the text and in bullet points at the end, the complaints seem kind of middling. This could be because Casmassina simply liked these two games, or it could be that this system is more style than substance — more examples are needed to tell which is true.

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