Death of the Critic

Updates and Reviews

Written by: Tom Blaich

When we are reviewing a game, we have a unique issue that we don’t encounter with any other type of media. When a game launches, rarely will it stay in the exact same state over the coming days, weeks, months, or even years that it will be in the public. It will be updated and changed over time. Sometimes these updates are small: balance tweaks to multiplayer, text fixes, or subtle adjustments that no one will ever really see. But on the other hand, some alter graphics, story, gameplay, or more. At the root is this idea: patches are fixing something wrong with the game, no matter how big it may be. So how do we deal with this as reviewers.

This comes up in part due to the recent graphical update to
Mass Effect: Andromeda, but it has been a concern for much longer, with games like The Master Chief Collection, Battlefield 4, Destiny, and more being a remarkably different state now than they were at launch. In some cases, these games didn’t even work fully at launch. But Mass Effect presents an interesting conundrum because the patch dropped in the middle of our review process.

Normally we would just add a post-script to the review, detailing the fixes and indicating that the score given might not reflect the current state of the game. In the worst case, we would hold off on scoring a game if it launched in a state where it did not work. But in a case like this, where the majority of our time with the game is from an unpatched version, but we did experience the “fixed” version of the game. So how do we handle this?

Do we review the launch product or the product as it exists on the day that we post our review? As it is currently, we play the game until we are ready to write a review, and then write it based off of the experience that we had, patches and all, but does this help the ones looking for purchasing advice if they don’t have access to crucial patches or if we give a game a bad score and it is fixed down the line?

It raises a dilemma for us because there is no one right answer to this question. We cannot help that our opinions of a game are affected by unpatched versions, but we also cannot say that these problems detract from the game if they have been fixed. The most that we can do is indicate in the post script if a game has been changed substantially, but even that feels like it is not enough. We try to give as much info as possible, and we will continue to do so going forward. If there is any way that we can improve, we do want to know. Please reach out to us at with any feedback you might have.


Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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