As a journalist, one of the first things they tell you is “don’t Google yourself”. OK, so this was 1990 and there was no Google or even the Internet, but the point stands (don’t read your reviews in magazines).
As a publisher in 2020, I have no choice but to face the unenviable task of reading the reviews of the games I am designing.
And it’s honestly soul destroying… I sent out 30 copies of GEODE at a huge cost per prototype – all to reviewers who requested a copy. I’ve only heard back from a few and of those few, the reviews have been either joyous and supportive, or filled with bile.
I had one guy message me after opening my game, that it was way too much like Carcassonne (it’s NOTHING like Carcassonne except that they’re both tile-placing games) and I knew immediately that it would colour his review. He was making negative comments – without even playing my game – and of course, true to my instincts, his review was filled with little niggles – he didn’t even get the name of the game right in his review.
A company is made or broken by its reviews and you can tell some of these reviewers have played my game once and then written a review. As an ex-columnist, that would have been career suicide. But there’s not much I can do about it now.
There’s a lot more to GEODE than randomly slapping down tiles on the table, and you discover that as you play. But a single quick disinterested game will show you that it’s a casual game for kids with little depth – which is simply NOT the case. There’s way more depth than just a colour-matching game.
But those reviewers didn’t see that. And after so much work and endless playtesting – knowing that the Kickstarter community will see those reviews before anything else – that’s honestly the most gruelling and disheartening thing of all.