I came across two interesting lines in this old TV show "I know how to use people" "I pay people to read books for me"
The same could be said for ... video games. Think about GameFAQs and blogs like blag and such and all the reviews posted on amazon other game sites and the accusations that were made towards traditional print magazine publishers.
Yes, many, perhaps even the majority of them were PAID (directly or indirectly) for their game reviews.
Now the average man or woman does not want to play bad video games, watch bad movies, or read bad books. The reviewers provide a very useful service weeding out the bad from the good. But many review are also written for free or little to no compensation.
Think of the incident we just had with someone on this board ... I'm sure you know who I'm talking about.
Because the video game market is I believe, very saturated right now, game publishers and sellers need the buyers/players/reviewers more than we need them right now. We have so many options for "entertainment" right now and they need to come up with new ways to keep us interested in their products. And as far as reviews go, it doesn't matter too much nowadays whether the reviews are good or bad. To gain interest and notice, it is more about the QUANTITY of reviews in many cases instead of whether they are positive or negative (look at the small indie developers making RPGMaker, Unity and such games many of them have very little reviews and don't gain much notice).
So all that being said, I want to discuss how much the going rate is for a video game reviewer. That is, you hire someone to play games on a contractual basis (not a volunteer basis, they have to perform or they are dismissed or face other penalties/consequences). You choose the games they get to play, they have to play it at least X number of hours, and they have to do a written and/or audio/video review of said game.
Now I did a google search "average pay for a game reviewer" but all the results I ended up with is "The average salary for "video game tester" ranges from approximately $51,324 per year for Game Tester to $122,101 per year for Senior Software Engineer.3 days ago"
How much does a game reviewer make?
National Pay Scale. According to a 2011 salary survey conducted by Game Developer Magazine, quality assurance testers in the video game industry with fewer than three years of experience earned an average of $36,136 per year. Those with between four and six years of experience averaged $45,769 per year.
I'm not interested in video game testers although they are very similar to game reviewers. They usually are paid to detect bugs and playtest a title(s) in development and offer direct feedback to their development teams.
Think of reviews written for free at GameFAQs or by Vlado and others on this blog. Now these people (most of them) wrote reviews for games they actually Wanted to play. Most of them were not Directed to write reviews for certain games (unless of course by the hand of God). They wrote them because they wanted to tell others about their gameplay experiences. They didn't write them because the games were given to them for free but nowadays that is the trend because on Steam and Amazon we can see many of the people that got the freebies.
Doing a written or video review, even a few sentences or minutes of video, takes time. Many people are doing it to get more and more freebies or advertising dollars.
What I'm trying to figure out is a baseline, or minimum amount of compensation to someone that is building their youtube channel and hasn't reviewed hundreds of games already. It aint of course $50,000 and neither is it $36,000.
I think the proper starting point is the cost (to the manufacturer, or cost/discounted cost to the buyer) of the game itself.
People are giving away games on this or that site but that doesn't translate into reviews many of the times (because gamers have backlogs or weren't that interested in the freebies but still wanted them anyway). Again, when you give a game to someone for free, it doesn't mean they are going to play it, and neither does it mean that they will review it. If they do, good for you you got "free" feedback/advice.
This is very similar to people that get "free" food/lunches/dinners as a reward for filling out customer surveys. Unless you structure the terms of the free offer properly, you aren't going to get very many surveys filled out. A new restaurant in town may treat people to free food before their grand opening in order to get feedback. The same with companies doing closed/open betas before official launches ... they want that feedback which is extremely valuable.
If you aren't getting feedback or if you constantly ignore the feedback you've been given, there are problems there. ok, that's another subject. Let's go back to the issues of "price for feedback" "price for structured feedback".
Well-established journalists and game testers and reviewers, they of course get paid a lot more money, because they have an existing audience and can spread the word on any particular game FAST. many of their dollars may come from ads, or the video game developers and publishers will pay them directly for their reviews. And the developers would expect to review well written or quality feedback from such people. Dishonest feedback may be a problem at some point to flatter individuals or companies (to obtain more goodies) but people need to develop their own methods to deal with such.
Because time is limited, and not everyone has the time to go through their backlog, who would take up and offer such as this.
Offeror buys you X number of games per month you are expected to produce written and/or video reviews for all of them. You have Y number of days to finish the review after you play Z number of hours of the game. You only get your next assignment after you complete the review. Offerer picks the games you review. You are free to suggest as many games as you want to review, but offeror makes the final decision on which games you must review.
Offer #2 (or Modified Offer #1)
Offeror buys you X number of games per month you are expected to produce written and/or video reviews for all of them. You have Y number of days to finish the review after you play Z number of hours of the game. You only get your next assignment after you complete the review. Offerer picks the games you review. You are free to suggest as many games as you want to review, but offeror makes the final decision on which games you must review. Every (1 month, 2 month, 3 months, or W to be determined period of time), you are granted X credits/gift card/moneys/etc. to spend as you wish or on a game of your choosing. You may or may not be obligated to write a review for any game that YOU choose.
Risk analysis to offerer and offeree/acceptor
Offerer may receive poorly written or plagiarized reviews or no reviews at all if offeree doesn't fulfill their part of the bargain
Offeree/acceptor may want additional compensation after an unknown period of time because the "work" or terms of the deal become insufferable or whatever (asked to play/review games he/she doesn't want to play). Offerer can cancel or end deal anytime due to insufficient funds/no longer needs you/etc.
How many people do you think would take offer #1 as stated. Would it matter if the games on average to be reviewed were "cheap" or "expensive"
Offer #2 would be more like a general employment contract because of the compensation part. Over in San Mateo, they were offering a $80 Amazon gift card to play 1 hour of their new mobile game and offer feedback.
Of course, less people would probably take offer 1 if the "retail" or"discounted" value of the total games in a year is too low. I mean just look at humble bundle, which I currently subscribe to, and their lot of bundled games every month, they advertise X retail value but generally those games are that cheap and bundled for a reason (ok MAYBE charity reasons but bleh i think the other MAIN reason could be underperformance and not meeting expectations).
But because those games were that cheap, many people did decide to play them and a subset of those also wrote and produced reviews for them.
Writing all this for a possible business model to compete with Humble Bundle and the game mags and such. Freebies (free to play) is the model that I think more and more of them are building on top of these days. I mean I cant believe they basically gave away Assassin's Creed Odyssey. And someone will probably come up with this or a similar model in the future. And nothing too new, just an adjustment to existing models that lean more towards the buyer at the moment.