At OutletPC, there are two things we hate more than anything else: bad video games, and paying too much for them. Sometimes, we just need someone we trust to let us know which games are awesome and which ones suck. That way we never have to waste our money on the sucky games.
That’s why we love Saving Content.
SavingContent.com, which was launched in 2011, doesn’t just play through a game and tell you if it was fun or not. Their video game review process focuses just as much on value as it does quality, so you know how much game you’re getting for your hard-earned dollars. Offering news, reviews, guides, video, and as of recently, podcasts, Saving Content is one of our favorite video game review sites.
We had the opportunity to sit down with one of Saving Content’s co-founders and the site’s Editor-in-Chief, Scott Ellison II, to talk about the site, his favorite games, and more. Check out what he had to say below.
When did you found Saving Content, and why did you start the site?
The reason we started Saving Content was because, for a long time now, I’ve always been asked what I think of a game after I’ve played it. I’ve always been people’s recommendation engine for what to get and what to avoid. This was with strangers and friends alike, not ever sure why I was asked what I thought – but it was nice. So myself and Ed Acosta brainstormed in October 2010, and decided that we should start a website and write our thoughts out in official reviews we could refer people to. And by January 2011, I had the site launch with a design and we haven’t touched the ground since.
What is the goal or mission of Saving Content?
The goal of Saving Content is to provide people who read our reviews a unique spin on the review system. While we feature the standard star rating for games which scores the quality, we also include a price value. The price value is to indicate the game’s worth. For example, a game can be good but isn’t worth the money asked due to game length or replayability. On the flip-side, a game can be bad but worth its money. For example, it’s a $10 brand-new Xbox 360 game – you are getting what you’re paying for. More often than not though, the game’s quality and price end up equal in scale. It just helps for us, and for those who read us to see a dollar amount attached to their future purchase. It allows them to be more aware of what they are throwing their money at.
Explain the process you use when reviewing games. What criteria do you evaluate? How do those criteria differ across different game genres?
When I review a game, it’s a much different process than when I am playing a game to simply play it. During reviews, I will marathon the game the best to my ability and time permitted to me. I don’t ever swap between games, and I’ll focus solely on that experience and take notes along the way. Some notes don’t ever make it into the review, but help me remember key points. We don’t necessarily break down a game by story, gameplay, graphics, sound, etc. specifically, but they are evaluated . We just speak to their qualities, whether good or bad.
The criteria differs across game genres due to expectations and standards set. If a game doesn’t have good graphics, there may be a reason for it. It could be a design decision that it was to be the art style, and doesn’t compare to other games in the genre. Those things are taken into consideration to then say whether the art style is good or bad rather than just saying the graphics are bad or ugly.
How long does the review process usually take? Do you typically finish the game before publishing a review?
The review process is dictated by the time it takes to complete the game, whatever that may entail. For example, a first person shooter like Call of Duty: Black Ops II only took me about 6 hours to complete the campaign. Then, it has two additional modes: Zombies and Multiplayer. I played the Zombies mode for about 3 hours, and then the Multiplayer for 6 hours. I ended up having 15 hours of playtime with the game before I felt comfortable giving a verdict on its quality and value.
I think it’s crucial that, in a game that includes a singleplayer campaign, to have it completed before reaching a decision. There might be key plot points or events that you may completely miss that may influence your
decision. If it’s a multiplayer-only game, then it’s understandable that there isn’t anything to complete, but a period of time must be invested to properly cover it.
Do you only review games, or do you review other products as well? If so, what kind of other products would you like to review?
We review games mostly, but have a few times dipped into products. Our latest review was of a new, chrome-plated Xbox 360 controller. Beyond that, we would want to test everything that relates to PC and console gaming. We’d like to cover monitors or TVs, sound systems, computer peripherals like gaming mice, keyboards, etc. We have no objections to any hardware for review.
What was your favorite game of 2012? Your least favorite?
We’re still deliberating our site’s top game of 2012. My personal favorite is probably Max Payne 3. It had fantastic storytelling, explosive combat, and it gets downright emotional at the end of it and really sinks into you. It leaves you a little emotionally damaged by the end of things. Rockstar rarely disappoints.
What’s your favorite game of all time? Favorite console?
That’s a tough question, I’ve always been torn between Duke Nukem 3D and Myst, both for different reasons. Duke Nukem 3D was raunchy, but had highly replayable levels to get better scores and find it’s hidden secrets. Myst, though, was mentally taxing, gorgeous, and a world I got lost in while exploring.
My favorite console was the Sega Genesis. I had that system the longest and there were just so many solid games for it. I never regretted not owning a Super Nintendo. The old: “Sega does what Nintendon’t”.
What is your favorite console of the current generation?
I have both a PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 has been the most influential in the way that I play games with friends and the inclusion of the Achievements system.
Do you prefer console gaming or PC gaming?
I have, and continue to prefer PC gaming.
Where do you see Saving Content a year from now? Do you wish to compete against sites like IGN or Gamespot?
Much bigger, as current trends are showing. We were allowed one pass to E3 2012 earlier this year, so I hope that during next year we expand even further as we’ve been on a steady incline. I think that’s a good sign as a website, is how many E3 passes you get each year. I would love to compete with IGN or GameSpot, but I honestly don’t ever see that being a reality. And I’m not being pessimistic, just realistic. If it comes to pass, I’ll be more than pleased and extremely happy at Saving Content’s progress.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing about games, and might not know how or where to begin?
It’s funny. I knew nothing about how making a video game website would work, I just kind of winged it and got lucky. We had our goal of how the site’s review system would work, and everything else got built out around it.
I think first you should have a passion, or at least an interest in writing. If not, it’ll show. Secondly, you should be doing it for the writing – not the free games. There’s nothing a publisher, developer, or PR person hates reading about, is someone just wanting “free games.” You’ll be blacklisted and will have a hard time making a name for yourself. Lastly, self-promote. You have to get the name out there for others to see it, and you have to give them a reason to read it.
If a genie gave you the ability to wish for one game to come out tomorrow that you’ve been waiting for or wanting for a while, what game would you wish for?
Ooh, what a tough question, but an easy answer: SimCity. That game encapsulates a lot of what I enjoyed in my younger years on PC, and the new one will likely recapture that magic for me.
Thanks to Scott for talking to us and telling us about reviewing games! Remember, Saving Content doesn’t just review games, they have fun guides too, like this one that teaches you how to play the entire Star Wars X-Wing Series on a Windows 7 PC and make them all playable with an Xbox 360 controller! Also follow Scott on Twitter! Thanks for reading!