I sit here, looking at the metacritic review for Diablo 3 and ponder the reason for such a huge difference between player and critic reviews. Obviously, the player complaints are plain as day, listed constantly in each negative player review. But why didn't that cause the majority of critics to give such a low score? I'm no professional, so these are just my views on the subject. I have no degrees and nothing to back up my theory, but I've formed it nonetheless.
I suppose I've dissected it in my mind by putting myself in the place of each; The consumer and the critic. It's easy to put myself in the role of consumer because that's what I am, especially when it comes to video games. As a video game consumer, I've found that I no longer accept paying $60 or even $50 for the next game in a successful series I've found myself enjoying. I feel that if they want my/our money, the companies providing these games should make sure they're giving us what we pay for.
That's not to say that Diablo 3 or, as I remember it in recent history, Mass Effect 3 didn't have good production value. I think players are beginning to feel disconnected from companies they've trusted for so long. The complaints are fairly specific in the two most recent cases I can think of. Seems a fair amount of players/consumers didn't feel that ME3 provided the closure they so rightfully deserved for spending $180 on the series. D3 seems to have left out that character building aspect players loved so much. I don't think it's so much that either side can be wrong as much as the players feeling disconnected because they are not being provided what they expect/want from established series and/or companies.
The argument can and has been said that the complaining consumers are too expectant. All I can think to say is that's what we've been made into. Pre-order now and receive these bonuses. Companies ask us to pay for a game before it's released and push it with bonuses. It's certainly good business as the pre-orders for the big titles certainly ensure early estimates. But that's from the perspective of the company, not the player. The player almost feels like it's an investment. A means to let the creators know that they support the game before it's even released!
Now, the way I see it, critics are on a different level. I've heard the screams of critics being paid off and it's some big conspiracy. I doubt this. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, I'm just saying I doubt every reviewer everywhere is paid to give a pleasing score. But critics are on that other level having been handed a copy to play. That changes something in the mind, I think. Can you truly play through a game you didn't have to pay for and be completely objective? I doubt that as well.
Now, I'm not knocking critics at all, they played it and enjoyed or did not enjoy the game they reviewed. They spend the time nitpicking through the ins and outs of a game so they can give as much info as possible before a purchase. They are, however, giving their opinion of the game without the constraints of price. They can tell you it is or isn't worth the price, but that cannot be completely objective, can it? They might go and buy the game after reviewing it and that definitely reflects well on the game. But at the time of print, it really can't be viewed 100% objectively, I don't think. Not without the price.
I see it as having a friend that buys every game and lets you play it. The second something happens or you see a feature you don't like, you think "Glad I didn't have to pay for this." As you continue, you begin to forget about the negatives and just let yourself have fun with it or just stop playing. In the end, you might feel a bit less negative about the game than if you'd paid for it, right?
I don't think that the player is wrong in their disdain, nor is the reviewer is wrong in their positive review of these games. I've used Destructoid's reviews to make purchases and will continue to do so. But I will always look at it from the perspective that the score may very well be reflecting an opinion of one who may not have the same perspectives I do. I think it's best to keep that in mind when using any review to help you decide on a purchase.