Problem 2: Reviewers have to rush through the game
Suppose that innovation bias isn't a problem to you. Having to play through 100 games/year while leaving time to write about it means that you have to rush through the game. While some magazines require that the reviewer finish the game, most just ask their writers to spend "a substantial amount of time" with the game. One of the problems is that playing through the game in marathon sessions means that you'll often miss important elements of the game. The pressure to finish a game like Need for Speed: Most Wanted in time for the press deadline means that few reviewers actually took the time to travel through the city from race to race and instead opted to jump from one race to the next using the menu. Doing this severely alters the experience of the game.
In games with optional side-quests, reviewers are forced to take the shortcuts through the game rather than exploring the world as someone might. In fact, one of the best sites for reviews of console RPGs, the Gaming Intelligence Agency, shut down because the staff found that the pressure to finish the game and get the review out as soon as possible meant that no one was having fun playing games.
Should reviewers have to finish the game? Not if they arenít given the time to do so. I think they definitely need to make an effort to really play the game and be confident, without any hesitation, as to what the score should be. Some games aren't fun because the payoff only happens at the end and a "normal" person wouldn't have any incentive to get there. When you don't rush through the game, you have time to really get a good feel for the game's setting and gameplay. By not rushing through the game, I have a better sense of the world of Need for Speed: Most Wanted and had a chance to see how Project Gotham Racing 3 quickly plateaus and stops being interesting. On the other hand, games like NFS:MW suddenly get tougher in the later parts of the game. Since my review of NFS:MW was written before I finished the game, I completely omit this detail. Likewise, since reviewers often have to play online before the online community is developed, it can be tough to get a good sense of what the online play will really be like for everyone else.
If you ask around, most videogame reviewers would love to have a bit more time. True, for some games there's no time pressure, but many games take more time to play through than reviewers are given time.
I made another common error in videogame journalism two paragraphs ago. Did you notice it? Itís what probably would have been #6 on the list: writing about stuff I only know second hand. If I havenít beaten Need for Speed: Most Wanted, why am I writing that the game gets too tough later in the game? I donít know that to be true for a fact. I just read it on a message board (GAF)...
This is a fairly common phenomenon. Videogame reviewers have to enjoy what they do, and part of that is participating in the online community. Still, there are many times were videogame journalists will take ideas or strategies from message boards and not really give any credit to the original source.