A Number’s Everlasting Impact

Reviews are a natural part of the video game industry. Creators and users alike are eager to know what score a game gets. Good scores are used by the game studio’s marketing team to help advertise the game, bad scores are ignored. Sometimes though, those scores are tough to ignore. This is certainly the case for Blizzard and the game’s fanbase when it comes to Mitch Dyer of IGN’s Heroes of the Storm review.

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The score is a 6.5/10. For perspective, the metacritic score (cumulative sum of all scores found on the internet) is an 86. Completely fine to rate a game lower than the rest, especially since reviews are mostly based around the writer’s opinion. The part that’s inappropriate, is the review is filled with numerous factual errors.

Some of the errors include: saying every hero is $10 when they are not, thinking a character can incapacitate a hero for 15 seconds when at maximum they can for 8, stating objectives are random when they occur at set intervals, and more. The first mentioned has since been corrected while the second was removed entirely from the piece.

The most glaring concern that still exists in the piece is the persistent naming the game a MOBA. A MOBA is an acronym for multiplayer online battle arena, a genre dominated by the games League of Legends and Dota 2. Blizzard, the creators of Heroes of the Storm, have made it clear that they do not believe their game is a MOBA, but instead a “hero brawler.” The article linked was written almost two years prior to the writing of the review, so it is not like Blizzard recently made these claims that their game is not a MOBA.

Despite not being a MOBA by Blizzard’s standards, it does not stop the reviewer from making the assumption it is and thus comparing it to existing MOBA’s. Mitch Dyer writes “The rewards for taking the secondary map objectives are so disproportionate that they discourage laning and distract from the primary goal of sieging the enemy base,” displaying the author fundamentally misses the point of the game. Those “secondary map objectives” are not secondary, but the main focus of the map, and “laning” is not primary, but secondary. This misconception is drawn from him comparing the game to other MOBA’s, where the focus of those games is the “laning,” which is a term used to describe your character progressing in one of the two or three lanes of the map against the enemy. That title “hero brawler” that Blizzard uses to describe the game, comes in the fashion of team fights at the map objectives. The game is designed to have the whole team’s heroes on both sides go to those objectives and brawl each other, not stay in those lanes and push forward like they do in the MOBA’s DOTA 2 and League of Legends.

Mentioned earlier, Mitch Dyer has since changed some of the long list of his errors in his article, but only after receiving intense criticism for the piece. He was featured in a podcast on Rebel FM where he was told directly that some of what he said was flat out wrong. He also made a tweet response to people criticizing his review.

This response comes off quite unprofessional, when a good bit of what he wrote is misinformation. To display the community’s perspective: his tweet got 12 likes when one of the comments calling him out got 39.

What was a simple mediocre score, has escalated to meme status, where now if you google “6.5/10,” below Google’s calculator the first 7 links are all surrounding the score Mitch Dyer gave. Misinformation is likely the reasoning behind this number becoming a joke, not the score itself.

At the 50 second mark in Blizzard’s recently released trailer for upcoming content in Heroes of the Storm, you can see a banner in the back reading “6.5/10,” showing the company’s memory that the score persists.

The fact that even the company continues to carry out references of this review shows the longstanding impact a negative, but more importantly factually incorrect, review can have on a game.

Heroes of the Storm is far from the first to suffer from a bad review and will not be the last. Smalltime game journalism sites can get away with their review being a bit wrong, but when your review is in the top hits for googling ‘review + title name’ then maybe it is best to get those errors sorted out.

Two solutions can be done for a situation like this with the first simply being to correct the original review. The second is a bit more unorthodox, but the precedent already exists, even from IGN. The idea would be to write a second review, analyzing the game from where it is today. This is relevant because unlike some games, Heroes of the Storm is a game that puts in updates every single week, making the product that exists today far different than what it was a year ago, and continues to advertise itself instead of slowly fading out of existence. The point in this instance would not only be to review it without misinformation, but to provide a resource for what the game is like today.

Mitch Dyer no longer works for IGN, but that did not stop me from reaching out to him to see if he would correct his remaining errors. No response was given. I also emailed IGN’s media inquiries contact Kiersten Slader about the errors and perhaps a re-review, but also did not receive a response. Will update if I get one but seems unlikely at this point.

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The fact that neither responded displays a clear lack of care for trying to remedy past mistakes or care to promote true information, despite a re-review being a worthy enough article to get new and profitable clicks. Truth is too time consuming it seems.

*Note to William Mitchell – I am looking to do my final paper on the topic of those two solutions: fixing errors in existing reviews and potentially re-reviewing games that have evolved significantly from their original form. This is important in terms of the greater public having an understanding of what a game is like in its current state and for marketing the game. This could then expand to the core issue of giving numbers to games, where I could reach out to sites about their general statement on giving or not giving numerical values to games.

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