GamerSushi Asks: Reviewing Free Games?

Alien SwarmAs you’re all probably aware, most of the GamerSushi staff are in the throes of Alien Swarm addiction. The game is really engaging, and it manages to wedge itself nicely into the niche left in my gaming life by Diablo 2. Valve was even kind enough to give it to us for free, and judging by how their servers got the crap beat out of them on its release day, they’re probably kicking themselves for not charging at least five dollars for the thing.

Even though we all love Alien Swarm, it’s not a perfect game. There are a few issues I’ve had with it, but my mind keeps glossing them over because of the price tag (or lack thereof). So I pose this question to you guys: can you even review free games? Price is definitely something that has affected the perception of past titles (ODST comes to mind), so will something that only costs us hard drive space be given an automatic pass in the grading department?

Something else I’d like you to consider is DLC. I’ve played all of the Mass Effect 2 content packs, and, when stacked against ME2 proper, they come up very poorly. Even Overlord, the most recent and best of the DLC, is kind of lack-luster compared to the main game and its selling price. Can DLC be rated on its own merits, or does it have to take the larger picture into account?

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mitch@gamersushi.com Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Lube182 Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: Stardew Valley, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Battlefield 4, Tom Clancy Double Feature: Rainbow Six Siege and The Division

7 thoughts on “GamerSushi Asks: Reviewing Free Games?”

  1. All games released for mass public consumption should be subject to the same judgment criteria, and price should be one of them.

    Regardless of how much a game costs money-wise I think we all want to know how much the reviewer enjoyed the game, what its successes are and its failures. Grading the product differently because it’s free is like grading a product differently because it’s from Bioware (or. . . Valve, of course).

    It’s a game made by professionals for a market that would pay if a charge were levied. . . therefore. . .

  2. Yes, I think so. If video game journalism wants to move past being glorified consumer reports, I think they should review even free games.

  3. I think they should review free games. Alien Swarm is really cool, however I have a hard time getting into a match, much less finishing one. Once I get into a game there are usually numerous lag problems that render the game unplayable.

  4. I’d say the free tag is just a bonus. If the game is worth a D but is free, it’s still a D and probably not worth wasting hard drive space, but it is free, so it should be included in the review, but not used to inflate the score.

  5. I paid $4.99 for Kane vs Lynch during Steam’s crazy summer sale.

    I thought it was a FANTASTIC game for 5 dollars. (played on PC, of course)

    Had I paid $59.99, I would have sacrificed my job at Gamespot too.

    Price should be a *-huge-* factor in an age of 99 cent iPhone games and 60 dollar wii games.

  6. Yes. Like Cossack said, a D game is a D game. If it’s free you can just check out that one ‘cool feature’ the review mentioned and delete after you’ve had your fun.
    Free DLC also falls into the same category. Take BFBC as an example. It’s free because it’s shit and should not recieve a high score. Seriously, those maps converted from Conquest to Rush are absolutely terrible. Valparaiso, defending. ‘Nuff said.

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