We all know the most raddest person in the video-game industry, and that person is the former Reviews Editor of Destructoid — Jim “Fucking” Sterling. I was able to get a great chance of interviewing this one big personality in the industry. I’ve been following Jim since Destructoid, his work as a journalist can sometimes be controversial especially with his profound criticism but I do love the fact that he’s not sugarcoating anything to please anyone.
Lex: First, again, thank you for letting me conduct an interview with you. As a long popular journalist in the gaming industry, it’s been a while since you left Destructoid and The Escapist to write independently on your blog — The Jimquisition. What made this decision of building your own brand instead of working with sites like Destructoid and The Escapist?
I’d always been working on my own brand even when I was with those companies, and it’s something I advise anybody in games media – do not put a company’s name before your own, do not work uncredited for a publication and make sure that whatever you do can have a long-term benefit for you. As we’ve seen, the games media industry is volatile and unpredictable, and a company will drop a writer overnight. The ones who survive layoffs and other financial problems are the ones who worked to build their own audience and can take it with them.
Going indie was a natural extension of that.
Lex: You’ve been a controversial reviewer, especially with your Final Fantasy XIII review. By giving it a 4 out of 10, do you still think back about the score and wished that you could’ve changed it?
Absolutely not. I rarely think about my old reviews anyway, certainly less so than some people on the Internet. In the specific case of Final Fantasy XIII, I don’t regret what I gave it. As with most of the scores I’ve given over the years, what once was controversial has become pretty acceptable.
Lex: I understand your opinions in your reviews, it’s pretty much most of the games you review are getting a hard time pleasing you. Like The Last Guardian, for example, others say that Trico was organic and that the design of the creature was lifelike. Your review says otherwise – calling it bad game design. What’s a perfect game for you?
“Perfect” isn’t a term I’m fond of, but if we look at a game I recently gave a 10/10 score to, Nioh, I think it bears all the hallmarks. Fantastic structure and pacing in the game’s direction, inventive map design, gameplay that’s finely tuned and doesn’t try to do too many things at once – it provides variety and hones what it has without getting overly bogged down in extra mechanics and ideas.
Either that, or make every game Gitaroo Man.
Lex: In this modern age of games journalism, the community prefers reviews without a score; since adding a number is highly subjective. And that 7 is already a bad number for games, what’s your take on this kind of mindset?
I like review scores, and I reserve 7 for good games. That’s really all I can say about that. I understand why some people want review scores done away with, but I have no plans to kill them off myself just yet.
Lex: Games have evolved a lot, and it seems new IPs are getting flat and dull especially the likes of ReCore, micro-transactions are an ongoing thing now, pre-orders is just a way of selling a product in a big price for in-game items that are completely useless, and day one patches. Can you give us some of your thoughts about this ongoing problem?
But for the cliff notes version – I think the mainstream game industry’s a mess of middlepeople and clueless scrabbles for profit in an industry that outgrows its audience too quickly. It’s a Rube Goldberg machine that shouldn’t work, and publishers know it barely works which is why they try more and more egregious methods to make more money by selling less material.
Lex: Game publishers and developers are taking your reviews too seriously and overly exaggerated. Some decided to bring in legal matters at your doorstep, and some publishers also blacklisted you from getting updates and review copies of their games. They’re afraid of getting their sales affected by your review, can you shed us some lights?
I get threatened with lawsuits on a regular basis, and several publishers consider me a “wild card” and dropped communication the moment I left The Escapist. For real insight, you’d have to ask the people making the threats and crossing the names off lists. From my perspective, I just see an industry that’s scared. It’s not a bold look to try and coddle a few reviewers who you’re sure will say nice things about your game. You look a little spineless, actually.
But hey, it’s their right.
Lex: I’m curious, what games are you excited to play this year? Did Horizon: Zero Dawn catch your attention? And what’s also your take on Nintendo Switch’s future and success?
Horizon: Zero Dawn is probably the game I’m most keen to see in action. I’m very curious about Dynasty Warriors 9 going open world too. As far as the Switch goes, I hate predicting Nintendo because they defy convention. However, their presentation and the caveats that came out afterward make me worry we’ll see another Wii U sob story.
Lex: Thank you for this chance again for letting us interview you, do you have anything you want to address or express to the gaming community, your fans, and also to those developers and publishers?
Keep supporting games media that will actually say things the industry doesn’t like. There’s usually a good reason the industry doesn’t like it.