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Opinion: Nominating PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds for Game of the Year is a Terrible Idea

There is in fact a line to be drawn between Early Access and full release.

Opinion by Kat Bailey, .

When the nominees for the Video Game Awards were released earlier today, one game stood out from all the rest: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, better-known as "PUBG" by its fans.

It was striking because, while it's sold some 20 million copies and arguably created a whole new genre, it's also still technically in Early Access. It lacks key features like climbing and vaulting; it's notably buggy, and it currently only has one map. Its unfinished state was obvious during the PUBG Invitational earlier this year, which saw one player killed by a bug.

So what gives? How can a game that's not even in full release get a Game of the Year nomination?

This question has kicked off a fierce debate on Twitter, Reddit, and even USgamer's own Slack channel. Caty is very much behind PUBG getting a GOTY nomination, arguing that once a game can be purchased by the public, it's fair game. I believe the opposite: If a game isn't at the point where a reputable site will review it, then it shouldn't get a GOTY nomination. Full stop.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds: A very cool and very unfinished game.

I actually explored the question earlier this year in one of our Starting Screen columns. While I acknowledged that it's very much part of the zeitgeist in 2017, I also wrote:

But I'm still hesitant to come right out and say it should be in the running for Game of the Year (and not just because I still think Breath of the Wild is still tops for 2017). Things can change a lot in Early Access. Sure, it's massive now, but there's every chance that something will go wrong. Maybe everyone will hate the new maps. Maybe someone will figure out how to break the game. Maybe it will prove to be a fad and we'll all look back and go, "Remember when we thought PUBG was Game of the Year? What a joke." Heck, maybe PlayerUnknown himself will just say, "I've decided to abandon development of Battlegrounds. Sorry." It wouldn't be the first time.

A lot of you agreed with me. One of you asked, "Can an unfinished game, with only a single map and barely any other content to speak of, which nevertheless has Gamble Box microtransactions... and which is, in the end, little more than a reskin of games that have already been made (Ark: Survival Evolved and, to a lesser extent, DayZ), still win Game of the Year? Sure. Why not. Let's encourage this model even further. Let's go all-in, full-steam-ahead towards Peak Cynical Avarice."

Another one of you wrote, "I think it merits end of year discussion when we reflect on what 2017 gave us, but it isn't in its final form. Sure, things are more fluid now for a lot of games, but I still want to hear that a game is done. Fluidity is fine, but when last year two multiplayer games vied for the top spot most places: Overwatch and Rocket League, and they were done. Yeah they've been updated, there's more content, characters, modes, etc. But I like a sense of finality to at least the core experience you're paying for."

Most of the counterarguments hit one of the following points:

  • Games are always evolving, so the distinction between Early Access and full release is now meaningless.
  • PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is one of the biggest games of the year and it's stupid to ignore it in the GOTY converseation.
  • If you can buy it, then it should be eligible for Game of the Year.

I'll certainly agree that our understanding of the traditional review has changed. One of the most frustrating things I face on an annual basis is the fact that sports games are constantly evolving, making launch reviews outdated very quickly. The best I can do is continue to cover updates and the community throughout the year, periodically updating readers on the state of the game.

That said, I do still think there's a line between Early Access and full release. And I do think that we should keep it in mind when we decide which games to laud with end-of-the-year honors.

Spacebase DF-9 is one of the many games that highlights the troubled history of Early Access.

The Troubled History of Early Access

One reason for this is that Early Access has had a rather fraught history to this point. I went in-depth on the state of Early Access back in 2015, when its reputation was arguably at its absolute nadir. At that time, we were only a year removed from the release of Earth: Year 2066—an "Early Access" release that was so buggy as to be virtually unplayable—and the sudden cancellation of Spacebase DF-9, which made big promises but ultimately went unfinished.

In that article, I laid out five rules for during Early Access right. One of those rules was that developers should always have a clear roadmap to completion.

As obvious as this seems, having a clear plan has tripped up certain games and left fans feeling used. Even relatively successful games like Starbound and DayZ have taken their share of heat for staying in Early Access for what many people feel has been an excessively long time. That's the bargain that is struck when entering Early Access. As Jan Wagner told me on Axe of the Blood God, having 6000 backers also means having 6000 publishers, and they don't like to be kept waiting."
"More broadly, players like know that there's a clear way forward for the project. When the development team goes quiet, or content updates become less frequent, alarm bells tend to be triggered. Ultimately, development needs to be as transparent as possible, which can be taxing on a small team, but is necessary to keep everyone from wondering if they've inadvertently backed the next The Stomping Land.

In other words, there is such a thing as being "complete." There is such a thing as keeping your promises. PUBG has not yet arrived at that point. Why should we be considering it for Game of the Year?

In that same article, I asked Jeremy Parish to lay out our official Early Access review policy. Jeremy wrote that at the end of the day, Early Access is still a beta. You simply can't review a beta. He added:

It's a blurry line these days, we realize. Final retail releases usually aren't truly final these days—even outside of extreme cases like Halo: The Master Chief Collection or Assassin's Creed Unity, great games continue to receive downloadable content and balance-tweaking patches for months after release, some of which have a profound impact on the game experience. As such, we're constantly evaluating our review process... but our goal is to make criteria for review eligibility more constrictive, not less. If anything, the similarity of Early Access games to many "complete" releases simply reinforces the need to take more time with all of our reviews.

This argument is one reason why I opted not to nominate PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds for Game of the Year when I handed in my VGA ballot.

Another is that I think we should consider Game of the Year to be the best game of 2017. I see a lot of people arguing that PUBG has to be considered because it sold 20 million copies. Well, by that metric, Call of Duty and FIFA should be in the conversation as well. Superhero films should always take home top honors from the Oscars. Frankly, sales don't hold a lot of water for me.

As for its individual merits as a game, PUBG is definitely fresh and unique, but as I mentioned before, it's still very buggy and missing many key features. Why are we even considering a game that's essentially in alpha for Game of the Year?

Things could be changing pretty soon. A proper 1.0 update will be on test servers tonight, bringing a host of new features. A new map will be out next month. Once all of this happens, we will give it a proper review, and then we may consider it for Game of the Year.

But as of right now, I strongly disagree with the notion that there's no difference between Early Access and full release. There's a reason that Early Access games don't get reviews. And based on the format's troubled history, I'd like to keep it that way.

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Comments 43

  • Avatar for Outrider #1 Outrider A month ago
    Caty is very much behind PUBG getting a GOTY nomination, arguing that once a game can be purchased by the public, it's fair game. I believe the opposite: If a game isn't at the point where a reputable site will review it, then it shouldn't get a GOTY nomination.

    See, I agree with both statements. I agree that if an outlet won't review a game, it doesn't make sense to include it in GOTY discussions. At the same time, if a game is commercially available, it should be subject to reviews.

    I get that the developers don't consider the game finished, but once you start selling it on Steam or Xbox, you have released a game. If you've released a game, it seems reasonable to assume that people can review it.

    All that being said: I admit that this is a very "reviews as consumer advice" point of view, which generally isn't the kind of review that I like. I prefer clever, insightful criticism far more than "should I buy this?" style reviews. But once we get to a point where publishers & developers are expecting people to pay for a game that may or may not be finished - by their own admission - it just doesn't make a ton of sense to me that they get to keep being exempt from reviews.

    This is probably a conversation that won't make too much sense in a few years, though. Like I mentioned on twitter, it might make more sense to start looking at game reviews as distinct chunks of content rather than the end product, not unlike some serialized media. You'll see TV episode reviews but then a later season review; you'll see reviews of ongoing comics but also distinct miniseries; Maybe we'll get to a place where we talk about the launch experience of a game followed by future "state of the game" reviews at certain milestones. Obviously that's a ton more work than a single review, so I don't know how to make sense of it with writers only having so much time in the day.Edited last month by Outrider
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  • Avatar for ViewtifulJC #2 ViewtifulJC A month ago
    I want it to win just to see the salt from the Nintendo/Sony fanbases
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #3 Captain-Gonru A month ago
    One point not mentioned was this. In the event Battlegrounds should win GOTY in its current, non-"finished" form, would it still be eligible again next year, when it is "finished"? Of course, this assumes nothing else challenges it for said title, but still. Would Mario+Rabbids or Fire Embem Warriors be re-eligible next year, should the not-yet released DLC warrant it?
    There has to be a line, and I think I'm on Kat's side of it here.
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  • Avatar for TrustyPanda #4 TrustyPanda A month ago
    Game developers get one release. One chance to make a first impression. Early Access is just a marketing term to let the consumer know the game might be kinda busted, but if the developer has no problem asking for money for it the game should be weighed equally against all others.

    I mean outlets not reviewing it is crazy to me. Why both reviewing a game that's been on sale for potentially years? It sold 20 million copies! I mean that's 20 million players who paid real money for the game. And if that game is the best game they've played all year who cares if it's Early Access?

    I mean when Battlefield 4 launched it was totally busted, right? And it's review scores suffered for it. Rightfully so. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds should be held to the same standard.

    tl;dr - If you charge money for a game it's 'released'. Early Access or not.
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  • Avatar for Number1Laing #5 Number1Laing A month ago
    I believe the opposite: If a game isn't at the point where a reputable site will review it, then it shouldn't get a GOTY

    The question is, why won't a reputable site review it? PUBG costs money and it has sold 20 million copies. It's the most popular game on Steam by a mile. It is getting an Xbox One port by the end of the year. Whether or not people are reviewing PUBG is, quite frankly, irrelevant at this point, because lots of people are playing it and spending money on it and passing judgement on it.

    Even "finished" games get revamped quite often these days. DOTA 2 gets remixed a couple of times a year at this point. Civ 6 just got a big patch that overhauled a key component of the game. Overwatch has received full revamps of characters, modes, and ranking systems. Was Overwatch at release any more finished than PUBG is now?Edited 2 times. Last edited last month by Number1Laing
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #6 Kat.Bailey A month ago
    @Number1Laing We had this debate several years ago. The eventual wisdom was that it's a bad idea to review betas, paid or not.
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  • Avatar for Number1Laing #7 Number1Laing A month ago
    @Kat.Bailey It might be time to revisit that. There's no right answer here, but at some point, you're not giving your readers information they are probably looking for. There are times when games have earned a critical look, no matter the label they give themselves.

    It's not like PUBG isn't being covered on these sites. It's basically getting criticism-free looks at sites that people go to for criticism, which seems wrong.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #8 SatelliteOfLove A month ago
    @ViewtifulJC

    You joke, but that maneuvering is a part of what colors this debate.
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  • Avatar for Damn_Skippy #9 Damn_Skippy A month ago
    I'm just looking forward to 'Gang Beasts' getting finished in 2030....
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #10 donkeyintheforest A month ago
    "Frankly, sales don't hold a lot of water for me. "

    While I 100% agree with this, I'd have to disagree with not being able to nominate PUBG for game of the year. When you have games that launch with gamebreaking bugs that get quickly patched out and reviewers (prior to official release) play multiplayer components with only other reviewers (rather than the public at large), they experience is different than the "official release day" end product. Who determines this "end product?" You are proposing that the developer/publisher (authors of the game) does.

    Once the authors of a game put out a playable product (and especially a playable version that they charge people for), it is a “game.” The exact moment when it is "officially released" is a matter of the developer/publisher’s authorial intent.

    While not completely analogous to static media like books/film (though those change too with special editions and new updates for paperback release, etc), games are rarely static once the official release day is passed. To review a game like PUBG now is no different than reviewing Forza 7 at release date. Forza 7 still does not allow microtransactions, but speculation about them was a large part of every review I read about it (and often served to lower the overall score). I'm not saying it should not have been part of the discussion. I am saying that games evolve and can drastically change at any time before or after an official release date.

    That wasn't always the case; and when you discussed the issue with Jeremy Parish years ago it probably wasn't even the norm (most Nintendo games for example still don't change dramatically post release). But it is the case now; and rather than kowtow to the authorial intent of gamemakers, critics must decide for themselves when a review is acceptable.

    Each game must be taken on its own and each reviewer must accept that they have a responsibility to themselves and their audience that they have to step away from the authorial intent and marketing of a game maker and judge a game how and when they see fit (revisiting it helps too). Saying not beta reviews is to broad a blanket statement and allows game makers to have too much sway over critique.

    ...

    Also, all that said, the makers of PUBG announced they are gonna release a 1.0 in December so I would say that qualifies them for the list this year too? But why are people even voting on GOTY before the year is done. What about Xenoblade 2? No GOTY chances at all?
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  • Avatar for Drachmalius #11 Drachmalius A month ago
    I don't have a firm stance on this really, since GOTY discussions don't carry a ton of weight for me. It does seem like a slippery slope for people who put stock in ranking games like this. PUBG is a special case where it's sold more than probably any other early access game, but by letting it be eligible it might muddle the waters for when other early access games come out.

    As an outsider it seems like the kind of thing individual outlets will have to decide for themselves, and stick to it. If PUBG is eligible this year, then early access games will have to be eligible from now on. Walking it back would be lame and a cop out.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #12 NiceGuyNeon A month ago
    The beef prepped for lasagna is amazing, but the dish isn't ready. What are we reviewing? The ground beef in the lasagna just because we think it's great? What about all the other ingredients that need to go in the oven before you can call it lasagna?

    I'm glad you like your ground beef, but I want to hear about the lasagna. I want to hear about the borscht, the jambalaya, the ramen, and the paella. And I want to know which of them is the best of 2017. I don't care about the ground beef if it isn't in my lasagna.

    PUBG is, at this point, just the ground beef. Might taste great, might cost money, still not lasagna.
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  • Avatar for assasyndragon #13 assasyndragon A month ago
    No love for indie companies in these awards, Divinity Original Sin 2 deserved at least a chance to win it.
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  • Avatar for swamped #14 swamped A month ago
    I don't even think PUBG's status is relevant when the argument for its inclusion is basically sales and popularity. If popularity = GOTY then nominate mobile games or MMOs. Of course you're not going to see that happen.

    It definitely deserves recognition but I think in hindsight it would be like the year Crash got best picture: the industry patting itself on the back for being forward thinking while glossing over the present.

    But awards shows are bullshit anyway.
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  • Avatar for Zedsdeadbruh #15 Zedsdeadbruh A month ago
    Deleted last month by Zedsdeadbruh
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #16 Jonnyboy407 A month ago
    Is there a cash prize?
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #17 UnskippableCutscene A month ago
    Make a "Best Early Access" category, and early access disqualifies for GOTY. Over and done.

    Early access is a trend that ought to be discouraged anyways, and while this may or may not help you have to draw the line somewhere.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #18 link6616 A month ago
    @UnskippableCutscene That seems like a fair point.

    I don't think it is wrong to review early access games, they are a product, that is sold. On the "will i buy it" side of review, that is fair.

    However, I do think it's always important to keep that "early access" phrase near them so it's clear.

    But... I just wish early access wasn't a thing. Maybe it really did make Darkest Dungeon and Dead Cells and such better games. Maybe I'm just an old man who doesn't want games as service type life styles.
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  • Avatar for Wellman2nd #19 Wellman2nd A month ago
    I agree with Kat but I have also given up hope, that right minds aren't going to give into the trend and call PUBG the game of the year.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #20 MetManMas A month ago
    Don't have a strong opinion one way or another about this paid beta getting a GOTY nomination, but I will say the following:

    1) Good or bad, Player Unknown's Battlegrounds doesn't interest me personally.

    2) I don't put much stock in the VGA's opinions because there's rarely crossover between the games they nominate and the games I personally enjoyed.
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  • Avatar for XyzzySqrl #21 XyzzySqrl A month ago
    It looks like at this point whether you review the game or not, and whether you think the game is done or not, is quite irrelevant. A hundred articles about early access meaning unfinished games and a hundred notes that you won't review unfinished games and a hundred more articles like this won't mean a thing to people who don't read reviews, don't read articles, and think their favorite game needs to win an award.
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  • Avatar for Neifirst #22 Neifirst A month ago
    My issue is that this opinion piece presupposes that Game of the Year awards from various sites and the internet-only Game Awards are relevant or important in the first place.

    If it's the content of reviews of that matters, rather than the score, doesn't it follow that the conversation around the collection of the 'best' games at the end of the year is what matters, rather than the eventual 'winner'?

    And Xenoblade 2 isn't even eligible apparently, so nuts to the Game Awards anyway : )
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  • Avatar for ghostsandgoblins #23 ghostsandgoblins A month ago
    I have nothing against outlets that post "top" lists, GOTY articles, etc. and understand how they can engage an audience. However, they lose me when they start taking themselves seriously, and I find events like the Oscars borderline preposterous.

    Nearly everything about them seem antithetical to art, and should probably be treated almost entirely as commercial enterprises. In that vein, the best thing I can say about GOTY awards is that they can lead to GOTY editions.
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  • Avatar for moochan #24 moochan A month ago
    I get the idea of "it's just a beta so it's not a full game" but I am more on the side of Caty on this. A game for purchase is a game. Remember when Kerbal Space Program was in beta for years but a few people kept trying to get it nominated like on Giant Bomb the moment it came on Steam. The moment a game is on sale than it has all the right to be talked and debated on no matter what version it might be on. Feel this is the same debate on "what is a game" with things like Visual Novels. GOTY is a personal choice that I feel has no gate outside of when it came out for people to play.
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  • Avatar for Outrider #25 Outrider A month ago
    @NiceGuyNeon That is... a bad analogy. But we can fix it!

    This is like wanting lasagna but the the restaurant only has ground beef ready. So you order the ground beef and you eat it. You like the ground beef but the restaurant says you can't leave a Yelp review on the ground beef because you didn't eat the lasagna.

    I'm glad that PUBG is planned to be an even better game when it hits 1.0, but it became a released product long ago regardless of the language the developers use. It is a paid product that is available on major storefronts and the only reason we don't consider it a released product is because the developer is saying "It doesn't count yet!" It makes no sense. They've released it and they're charging for it; it doesn't really matter if it isn't what they want it to be yet.
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  • Avatar for Outrider #26 Outrider A month ago
    @moochan Yeah, I don't think most people care about the GOTY discussion; we're more using it as a chance to focus in on the definition of "released" or "not released" and how that impacts how a critic responds to a game.
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  • Avatar for Outrider #27 Outrider A month ago
    @Kat.Bailey That seems like a problematic stance to take. It basically means that PUG is exempt from formal criticism so long as they never change their version number to 1.0.

    Besides what the publisher has said, what distinguishes this game from any other major release?Edited 5 weeks ago by Outrider
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  • Avatar for matt-b #28 matt-b A month ago
    @Outrider This is like wanting lasagna but the the restaurant only has ground beef ready. So you order the ground beef and you eat it. You like the ground beef but the restaurant says you can't leave a Yelp review on the ground beef because you didn't eat the lasagna.

    PU and the publisher (restaurant) aren't going to stop anyone from reviewing/scoring their game.

    A more apt comparison may be a food critic's point of view; would a food critic rate a lasagna as Dish of the Year if all they ate was the beef the restaurant told them would be a part of their lasagna, or would they say "the beef was good but as the lasagna was not available, I cannot give it consideration for Dish of the Year"? The restaurant isn't presenting the ground beef as it's own meal; they have advertised their amazing ground beef is going to be part of their groundbreaking lasagna. They may be ok with you telling people the beef was delicious, but once they have the lasagna prepared and ready for consumption is the restaurant going to offer the ground beef on its own as a stand-alone dish? Or will they say "Oh I'm sorry, the ground beef is now part of our lasagna so you'll have to order that"?

    Say our imaginary food critic throws caution to the wind and gives the lasagna Dish of the Year, based solely off their experience with the ground beef, never actually eating the lasagna. What happens then, if the sauce is too sweet, or the tomatoes are over-ripened, or the cheese isn't aged adequately, or the noodles are under-cooked, or there is too much garlic, or the entire thing is burnt beyond being palatable? What if all the flavors mixed together are not good? What if the lasagna as a whole does not work, despite how amazing the ground beef, out of the context of the lasagna, was? Would that critic adjust their review of the lasagna? Do they retract the award they gave the restaurant for the lasagna? Do they go back and find another dish to assign that coveted designation? Would anyone take the critic seriously moving forward? Would other restaurants invite that critic to their establishment knowing they gave Dish of the Year to something they didn't actually eat?

    Also, I have no dog in this fight, as I do not own and have not played PUBG.

    The solution in my mind is to rate it as beta of the year, or early-access of the year or some such thing, as it is not, even by the dev/publisher's own words, a complete game.Edited 3 times. Last edited 5 weeks ago by matt-b
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #29 TheWildCard A month ago
    I've never liked the Early access model and don't like the rolling release model more and more games are taking, but I think PUBG is big enough to make an exception. When something reaches the level it has, and is fresh and entertaining enough to hang with the biggest releases of the year in one of the best video game years on record, discounting it just because it doesn't have a 1.0 version out yet seems to be missing the forest for the trees. I get why sites need to have clear rules for review purposes, but if the GOTY awards are meant to recognize the best and most impactful things people played this year PUBG certainly should be on the list. Holding off til next year seems ahistorical.
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  • Avatar for Outrider #30 Outrider A month ago
    @matt-b I don't really care about the GOTY aspect of this story; most of the discussion seems to be focused on whether PUBG can be considered released or not and that's what I'm referring to.
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  • Avatar for matt-b #31 matt-b A month ago
    @Outrider yeah i get that. i just sort of got lost in this stretchy metaphor i wrapped myself in.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #32 NiceGuyNeon A month ago
    @Outrider Nope. My analogy hits on the point, albeit simplistically because I know PUBG is more than just one ingredient, but your analogy twists the situation in a weird way not relevant to the specific issue. I think@matt-b gets the idea I was going for in his post.

    To fix your new analogy:

    I go to the restaurant and order lasagna. They tell me it won't be ready because they haven't figured out all the ingredients yet but they're letting people eat the ground beef. I eat the ground beef and enjoy it. Now, I have to choose whether I think it's worth reviewing the lasagna based on just the ground beef.

    THE RESTAURANT CANNOT STOP ME FROM LEAVING A REVIEW NOR CAN THEY FORCE ME TO LEAVE A REVIEW.

    What do I do? I say no review because it's not lasagna, but I could write the review and say "guys, order the lasagna, right now they only give you ground beef but it's really good and hopefully that means the lasagna will be good in the future"

    Any restrictions are self-imposed, they are not brought on by the restaurant. Maybe others decide to leave that review, but I choose not to because I don't think it represents the main dish properly. The restaurant can continue to figure out the lasagna while they provide ground beef, but availability is not the same as completeness to me.
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  • Avatar for Outrider #33 Outrider A month ago
    @NiceGuyNeon Obviously nobody is directly telling these outlets they can't review the game, but outlets are following the word of the developer/publisher ("this game isn't complete yet") over the reality (the game is released as a commercial product). Arguing that PUBG isn't a game that has been released is, quite frankly, bullshit.

    So accepting that, it makes no sense to think PUBG isn't eligible for reviews or formal criticism. Whether it's worth GOTY is a symptom of the larger issue and quite frankly, is far less relevant.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #34 NiceGuyNeon A month ago
    @Outrider I think it's significantly more complex than "it's available, people pay, so it should be reviewed." I don't think being kept from a review bars a game from criticism, information is available everywhere on PUBG and any flaws it might have that people should be aware of.

    Maybe it's a bigger issue for smaller early access releases, but at that point there are important questions to ask: what's worth covering? Is there enough staffing and hours at even the largest sites to be dedicated to early access? If PUBG is allowed coverage do they have to cover everything or just what's popular? If they cover just what's popular are they alienating other readers or not discussing games that might be of interest to readers? How do they review something in a constant state of flux? How do they review something that might completely fall apart 6 months from now? What stage of early access is far along enough to warrant coverage? How will readers respond to an initially positive review to a game after it falls apart? Will readers neglect a game in early access because it was a train-wreck to start and then got improved based on feedback?

    Looking at the advertised perks of early access:

    "Play the game as it develops" and if it's fundamentally different from the initial review? Do reviewers just go back and review it again? Is posting an update to the review enough? Is it a separate article detailing the changes? Do we do this for every early access? Can sites afford to do that when there are so many major releases throughout the year now?

    "Help test and report bugs" And if the major bugs are resolved do reviewers go back, alter their review, post a new one? How much time do they need to commit to make sure the bugs are gone? Are there new bugs as a result?

    I'm not in the position to answer those questions. I'm not even sure a writer could answer them because that's part of the debate they're facing in their field.

    Too many variables and unknowns point me towards the safe choice: a game is complete, and then it gets reviewed and considered for GotY if it's good enough.

    TL;DR- Give me the damn lasagna.
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #35 donkeyintheforest A month ago
    @NiceGuyNeon@Outrider@matt-b

    I think the lasagna analogy only works in a shallow way. It may have started with just ground beef. But then you have the option to buy and eat ground beef and noodles. And then you can buy and eat ground beef, noodles, and cheese. Then you can buy and eat ground beef, noodles, cheese, and sauce. It's lasagna, but still just called beta lasagna. Then a bit later they add some spices and Lasagna 1.0 is released and everyone can review it according to the standards they set forth saying that they will be submitting to the will of the restaurant.

    A week later you can still buy the lasagna but now it only comes with mushrooms (dynamic weather effects). Soon, much of the cheese they are using is moldy (cheaters ruining the game). Then a few weeks later they get fresh cheese, but not the waitstaff is horrible and you only get your lasagna cold (server issues: HA!). You hear they are gonna start selling it at other locations (consoles) and those will provide different experiences.

    The lasagna (game) doesn't stop changing. I think that always letting the restaurant dictate the precise instant that you can review lasagna (when they’ve been selling it the whole time) gives too much power to them.

    In most cases I would say that giving the benefit of the doubt to the game makers would make sense; and it would be fair to allow them to state where along the iterative process they view the game as complete enough to be judged. But sometimes a critic/reviewer may need to make a judgement call and treat a beta like a normal game if the community is doing so as well. PUBG is somewhat unique in that it has major market penetration, generates lots of money off of microtransactions, thrives in the fact that jank is part of it's draw, and shows no signs of stopping iteration after its proposed 1.0 release next month.

    Aside from all that, a playable game is a game. Why does a game need to be reviewed to be considered for game of the year? If enough people play it and like it, then it should be considered. It's not like everyone voting played all the games anyways. And the years isn't even over yet and there are still games to come. The whole thing is kinda silly.

    Ps- I understand that if USGamer hasn’t given the game a full analysis yet, and want to put that off til next year when they have full access to the 1.0 ver that would make for a better review of the 1.0 ver; but they are definitely excluding one of the biggest games (most concurrent users ever) of the year from the game of the year competition. This is my favorite videogame website, and a game of the year list is not gonna change that haha
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #36 SargeSmash A month ago
    Agreed. In-progress games should not be reviewed, and as such should not be eligible for GOTY. While someone can charge money for it, I view that more as an investment in what the product may or may not become, not money on an actual release. It's a beta that people pay for.
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  • Avatar for matt-b #37 matt-b A month ago
    @donkeyintheforest

    @Outrider

    @NiceGuyNeon



    First off, I love being able to engage in civil discourse with others on the internet; this websites comment section frequently reminds me the internet is not all hatred and death threats. Secondly, I'm impressed we've kept this ridiculous food analogy going for this long. Well done to all!

    Really it boils down to semantics; the technical differences between "available" and "released." One would also take into account what "early-access" really means in Q4 of 2017. It is an endlessly debatable subject because arguments can be made for both sides.

    For my money, Mr. PU/Bluehole have yet to officially release the game and as such, it should not be a GOTY contender. Demo of the Year? Early-Access of the Year? Most Played on Steam of the Year? Sure, toss it in those rings. Not GOTY though, as it has not been formally released as of this date.Edited 5 weeks ago by matt-b

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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #38 donkeyintheforest A month ago
    @matt-b I really appreciate the conversation too! Yay!

    While I would usuallyadvocate that one should not review a game before it's creators' self proclaimed release, I don't know why a game needs a full professional review before it is included in a game of the year list. PUBG is a "game," and should therefore be in consideration in my opinion; especially when it has had more concurrent users than any other game on Steam in the year 2017.

    Specific criteria for consideration would solve this, but that is clearly not a priority for the particular game of the year competition being discussed. It seems like a slapdash marketing tool.

    To really boil the semantics down, by Mr. PU/Bluehole's own account there will be a 1.0 version released in 2017. It seems to me like the voting should take place after all the 2017 releases are released. That would easily (and definitively) solve this particular issue. It's ridiculous haha.
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #39 Captain-Gonru A month ago
    @donkeyintheforest and@everyone else still following this thread
    First, now I'm kinda hungry for lasagna :-)
    More importantly, I think there's merit to the idea that the creator should have some say in when a game is "finished" as opposed to simply "available". The restaurant can serve up some ground beef, maybe in a red sauce they plan to use in the final product, and sell it "as is", as a way to inform the consumer of what they have in mind for their lasagna. But the consumer saying "this is enough of a meal to me" doesn't make it the dish the cook wants to be judged by, no matter how good it may be already.
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #40 Captain-Gonru A month ago
    Deleted 5 weeks ago by Captain-Gonru
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  • Avatar for hamfighter #41 hamfighter A month ago
    I don't have a problem with PUBG being nominated for awards. It's absolutely not my kind of game, zero interest whatsoever, but I can appreciate that it appeals very much to a whole lot of people.

    I'm kinda surprised that in the 40 replies above mine, nobody had my take: is this game, even in its "unfinished" state, better than all of the games it is competing against? If so, yeah - GOTY is reasonable to me.

    And honestly, that's a pretty tough hurdle to clear, which makes it all the more impressive to me that an unfinished game can actually compete with "final products". Yeah, it might become worse (or better) later upon seeing the official 1.0 release. But all we can judge is what's available now.

    If you can't rate that, how do you make the logical leap to being able to include games that have planned DLC or major patches, or the industry-wide trend of "games as a service", or any MMO ever?

    Hell, Diablo II was released in 2000 and received several GOTY awards. It also received significant patches for over a decade (and even a patch in 2016 that was, admittedly, mostly for compatibility with modern systems) and a major expansion. It clearly wasn't the same game several patches in than it was at launch. Does that mean this game that many people feel is an all-time classic shouldn't have been eligible for GOTY consideration when it was released?
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  • Avatar for ATBro #42 ATBro A month ago
    If a game is available to the general public and what is there is already good enough to be considered to stand with the best of the year, then it should be able to be considered. There are too many instances of game that have been considered for the award that have some of the same issues as PUBG. Bugs are not a disqualifier because I remember in their respective years, Oblivion, Fallout 3 and Skyrim being in the running.

    Pushing aside all of the "he said, she said" of this discussion, there is one thing that puts it over the top for me. It feels like an important game. Maybe not even important so much as impactful. It had a serious breakthrough for a new (not original) type of competitive play, and when it comes right down to it, the vast majority of games we play are iterations on things we have already been doing for years. Breath of the Wild really isn't all that different from most open-world games. Mario is just more Mario. This type of king-of-the-hill competitive play hadn't pushed into the mainstream before, and it is meaningful to be the first to have done that.
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  • Avatar for Toelkki #43 Toelkki A month ago
    If an early access game stays in EA for multiple years, getting near-annual major changes (I've never played Darkest Dungeon or Minecraft, so I don't know), should the game be eligible for nomination every year? Moving on to, say, World of Warcraft and its various expansions: should it be eligible for nomination every year?

    Anyone got a link where VGA says what the requirements for eligible games contending for GOTY are?

    TV series can run for multiple years and they have their annual rewards. Is VGA GOTY an Emmy or an Oscar? With PUBG in the nominees, I'd say it's an Emmy.

    EDIT: Okay, I found the rules from VGA's website. Yeah, I read the rules so that if WoW made big overhauls, it could be a GOTY nominee as well.Edited 5 weeks ago by Toelkki
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #44 donkeyintheforest 30 days ago
    @Captain-Gonru Oh for sure it may not be the thing the cooks want to be judged for, but if they've been selling it as lasagna beta for the better part of a year, and millions of people have eaten it, there is no reason they shouldn't be able to vote for it in the food of the year awards. It is food after all.

    And you seem to be taking the cooks motives in pretty good faith. There is a chance that they may just keep it labeled as lasagna beta for a long time because part of the charm is the often undercooked edges and occasional cold spots that give it an endearing amateur quality. Once they declare that it was true lasagna 1.0, people would judge such amateur mistakes much more harshly and demand a thoroughly cooked lasagna.

    I'm down for some lasagna too haha! With overcooked edges! (that crispy cheese tho mmm...)
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  • Avatar for PeterPeter111 #45 PeterPeter111 21 days ago
    I think this is a really nice article, but these are my two cents! PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is a very new game and is still in development. It has more players than for example CS:GO (gambling), but CSGO has been around for 4 years and is quite stable, whereas PUBG is not. We need PUBG to develop itself more and then it deserves the Game of The Year Award for sure! Also, if you are interested in making money via CSGO , visit this link - csgo betting and gambling sites
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