The Death of Professional Game Reviews

Google giveth, Google taketh away

Alex Rowe
7 min readJun 25, 2024
Extreme close up view of the D-pad on an 8BitDo Ultimate wireless controller.
Photo taken by the author.

When I was a kid, if I wanted to know which new game was worth renting at the local video store (or maybe asking Santa to bring me), I had to read gaming magazines.

My mom thought this was great; she was a big proponent of any and all reading, even if my chosen words were written by people only a few years older than me trying to play and review a hundred games every month. My favorite magazine was Electronic Gaming Monthly, or EGM. They covered all the systems, and often had more than one reviewer on every game so I’d see a wider range of perspectives.

Of course, being a gaming magazine, it also had tons of ads for games, consoles, and peripherals in it. The distinction between “ad” and “review” was pretty darn clear — sometimes leading to behind the scenes drama. If a company ran a big spread for their new title, and then it got a six out of ten in the magazine, they weren’t going to be happy about it. You could see these ethical battles play out across the pages, and even if they weren’t always discussed, they were still kind of out in the open. The wall between ads and editorial content was literal physical space on the page.

At this same time, there was another popular magazine called Nintendo Power. It had none of this delineation, as it…

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Alex Rowe

I write about gaming, tech, music, and their industries. I have a background in video production, and I used to review games for a computer magazine.