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Consumer Reports Gets Its Game On 301

Posted by kdawson
from the mainstreaming-of-a-subculture dept.
Itninja writes "A few days ago Consumer Reports posted their first report on a specific video game: Wii Fit. From the article: 'Our testers ranged in age from 24 to 69 and included 10 women and five men. Users ran the gamut from regular exercisers to mostly sedentary folks.' Will this be a harbinger of things to come? Will CR be reviewing the next installment of Gran Turismo?"
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Consumer Reports Gets Its Game On

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  • n = 15 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    That's a small sample size. How much of a gamut can you really run with only 15 people?
    • Re:n = 15 (Score:5, Funny)

      by Trigun (685027) <evil AT evilempire DOT ath DOT cx> on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @01:37PM (#23559821)
      Obviously a 1-15 person gamut. Anything else would require more gamut-runners.
      • by sammy baby (14909)

        Obviously a 1-15 person gamut. Anything else would require more gamut-runners.
        I think having more than 15 people in a gamut is against indecency laws in most states.
    • Re:n = 15 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kingrames (858416) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @01:40PM (#23559871)
      When was the last time you saw 15 people testing a game to write a review, rather than just one?
    • Considering the "gamut" for most reviews == 1, I'd say they're way ahead of the curve already.
  • I welcome CR (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jsnipy (913480) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @01:40PM (#23559857) Journal
    I think it would be good to have more unbiased reviews. But I only think they did this because the wii fit is touching on the arena of exercise equipment.
    • CR is unbiased - or, at least, as close as humanly possible.
    • But I only think they did this because the wii fit is touching on the arena of exercise equipment.
      Entirely correct, I think. I don't think CR is testing the Wii as a game platform, rather as excursive equipment, which is consistent with the types of things they test...

      No, I really don't think CR is the right forum to test games, except maybe to discover if they start fires...

  • by Recovering Hater (833107) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @01:40PM (#23559863)

    Will CR be reviewing the next installment of Gran Turismo?

    NO.

  • by hyperz69 (1226464) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @01:42PM (#23559899)
    I agree with this report. In short it explains that Wii fit is good if you need motivation to get off the couch. It is not for those who pull themselves outside or goto the gym and get physical already. It's target group though is over 50% of Americans... and a heavily growing European segment.
  • Reminds me of this Wii Fit parody [youtube.com].

    :)
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @01:46PM (#23559985)
    ...and this isn't an accident. Nintendo's Blue Ocean (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ocean) named 'Wii' is decisively different, as evidenced by the fact that Consumer Reports is covering Wii Fit.
  • From fad diets to late night infomercial exercise devices, Consumers Union has a long history of testing out exactly this sort of thing.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @01:50PM (#23560045)
    I've grown thoroughly disgusted with the usual pattern of game reviews.

    Previews: Holy shit, glowing reviews, the game is better than blowjobs and bacon sammiches combined!

    Reviews: Walking the fine line between placating advertisers and telling the truth. Reviewers who bite the hand that feed them soon go hungry. So even the most disappointingly middling hash job gets a gentleman's C.

    If we get the money out of the review process and really see some honesty... well, I don't know if we'll get better games but I do know it will honk off more suits and that's almost as enjoyable.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @02:12PM (#23560417)

      Reviews: Walking the fine line between placating advertisers and telling the truth. Reviewers who bite the hand that feed them soon go hungry. So even the most disappointingly middling hash job gets a gentleman's C.

      Then you should applaud Consumer Reports entering the gaming review market. They don't have any advertising and don't have anyone to please but subscribers. They even refuse to take donated equipment for reviews because of cherry picking and anonymously buy their gear through regular retail channels.

      If we get the money out of the review process and really see some honesty...

      There is one ad on the page with the article. It is for a subscription to Consumer Reports. If you really want the money out of the process, go subscribe. I think it is well worth it for their great, independent assessments of cars, electronics, computer hardware, etc. Without a subscription, for example, I'd never have known Dell has brought their laptop line from near the bottom of the heap to near the top (just under the premium vendors) within just the last year.

      If you want people to review things impartially with your interests in mind, pay them already. Otherwise, feel free to put up with reviews that are closer to PR releases

  • I find it telling that not only did CR review the game, but that the composition of their sample group had a giant gaping hole in it - the young male. Not only that, it includes twice as many women as men. This really shows you that Nintendo has executed their strategy - ignore the ritalin kids in favor of focusing on everybody else - brilliantly. They realized what Sony, and to an extent Microsoft, didn't - that games aren't fun because they run on the latest hardware and look photorealistic, rather, they're fun for the same reason anything else is - you can play with your friends and family. Yes, I know Microsoft has Xbox Live. Running around killing people isn't really a game you'd play with grandma though - but Wii Tennis is (I have and she loved it). So no, I don't think CR will review Gran Turismo... but I'd bet money that they'll review the next big family hit on the Wii.
    • ... it uses the Wii fit controller?

      That could really lend to a sense of realism previously lacking in racing games. Or maybe just a new sense of vertigo...
    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Running around killing people isn't really a game you'd play with grandma though

      What if your grandma is a sociopath?

  • Consumer Reports is not a good source for video game reviews because they take the subjectivity out of their reviews. Video-gaming is very subjective and it will be impossible for CR to capture the nuances and evaluate them with any effect. This goes for ANYTHING that people have passion for. While CR does good, unbiased reports on the boring everyday items such as blenders and vacuum cleaners, their car reviews are awful and hold no water except with people who like to drive cars that have no soul...same
    • I can get the feel for the "soul" for a car by looking at it, sitting in it, and driving it. I get the unbiased review of experts and a fair polling of quality and risk from Consumer Reports.

      Buying a car without the first might seem silly to you, but buying a car without the second seems downright dangerous to me.
      • I agree with your post entirely. My problem with CR is that, after their very thorough and fair unbiased review, they make a lame attempt at subjectivity in the narrative portion. It shows they know nothing about those things that make a car great to those people who love cars. How else would you explain the lackluster reviews of cars such as the BMW 3-series, that seem to win award after award in nearly every automotive journal on the shelves? My answer is that CR values cup holders over handling, beca
        • Re:Ughh... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by randyest (589159) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @03:35PM (#23561749) Homepage
          How else would you explain the lackluster reviews of cars such as the BMW 3-series, that seem to win award after award in nearly every automotive journal on the shelves?

          What lackluster reviews? BMW 3-series gets top marks in every category (membership required) [consumerreports.org] and the new wagon [consumerreports.org] gets a good score but loses points for controls, cup-holder design, a small interior, and the need for premium fuel. I'm not sure why you're so personally offended by such an honest review, but maybe it would help you to know most CR readers don't focus much on the final "score" but rather look at the pros/cons and consider which are important to them.

          Your post really comes across as a pompous attempt to be a "car guy" but real "car guys" (1) don't get their panties in a twist over a CR review and (2) don't drive BMW's.
    • While CR does good, unbiased reports on the boring everyday items such as blenders and vacuum cleaners, their car reviews are awful and hold no water except with people who like to drive cars that have no soul...

      Disclaimer: I use CR for most things. That said, I've seen people use crappy stuff. Maybe a blender has no soul (believe me, I don't derive enjoyment from driving my Civic, but that's because I use it primarily as a tool to get from point A to point B) but I *do* feel good when it "just works". As opposed to other blenders I've owned that don't blend, or blend very crappily.

      The reason that Wii Fit is being reviewed is because it is passing itself off as a piece of exercise equipment, not (primarily) bec

    • by randyest (589159)
      What good to me is someone else's subjective opinion?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      While CR does good, unbiased reports on the boring everyday items such as blenders and vacuum cleaners, their car reviews are awful and hold no water except with people who like to drive cars that have no soul...

      I dunno, I find them a good source of concrete relative comparisons rather than gushing hyperbole like most advertising-driven reviews from other sources. Even for cars. Yes, there are lots of subjective factors that go into car buying (or blender buying, for that matter), but subjective reviews by

  • Yes they are not biased. Yes, they don't get paid off (from what we can tell). They do still sell advertising space so that's a conflict of interest. The reason CR sucks though it that their reach is too far to produce any real usable information and reviews. Any company that tries to review washing machines to Digital Cameras; Cars to the Wii Fit, will have trouble getting people knowledgeable enough in the subject area to write the article. I noticed this several times in their car reviews and their digit
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      They do still sell advertising space so that's a conflict of interest.

      They do? Where? There are no ads accompanying the article and I don't see them on any of the reviews I've looked at.

      The reason CR sucks though it that their reach is too far to produce any real usable information and reviews.

      I've found their reviews very useful and their expertise in affordable testing procedures carries from products to product. They provide fairly useful reviews from a normal person's perspective, with some product lines being reviewed by experts as well.

      You say Consumer Reports sucks.. well maybe so, unless you compare them to every other company out there. They're pretty much the most re

      • by Bryansix (761547)
        Well take my example of Digital Cameras. http://www.dpreview.com/ [dpreview.com] is much more informed and not biased at all and very professional.

        The point is no one place reviews all these things because to do so is madness. Still individual publications out write CR in every field they cover. This is because they specialize which is a good thing.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Well take my example of Digital Cameras. http://www.dpreview.com/ [dpreview.com] [dpreview.com] is much more informed and not biased at all and very professional.

          How do you know it is not biased? They're being paid by the companies they are reviewing. So how do you know they don't nix the most critical reviews? Do they take donated cameras? Are those cameras the same as normal people buy, or cherry picked by the companies donating them?

          The point is no one place reviews all these things because to do so is madness.

          There are several things useful for review sites. Expertise is one, and maybe one where CR is not top of their game. Another is credibility, where CR is at the top of their game. With other sites, you just don't know for the mos

    • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @04:09PM (#23562275)

      Any company that tries to review washing machines to Digital Cameras; Cars to the Wii Fit, will have trouble getting people knowledgeable enough in the subject area to write the article. I noticed this several times in their car reviews and their digital camera reviews. Too often they just speak from inexperience in that field.
      You don't understand the purpose of CR.

      They exist to keep regular joes from getting ripped off.

      They do not exist to give expert advise to nit-picking, niche hobbyists. If you want that sort of expert advise, go to one of the many magazines dedicated to whatever niche you have a fetish for.

      Meanwhile the people who just want to buy a washing machine/refrigerator/car/bed/television/dvd-player/vacuum/etc that does a decent job and won't break down a month after the warranty expires can go to CR.
  • by OiBoy (22100) <caleb@webninja . c om> on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @02:17PM (#23560455) Homepage
    I see a lot of people complaining that it's not a REAL workout, or it's just a gimmick. Knowing that the Wii Fit is sold out almost everywhere, how many of you have actually tried it?
    I own a Wii Fit. I've been using it for 5 days now. Not a workout, my ass! Maybe if you only do the balance games, or maybe if you only consider a workout to be doing weightlifting. I've been doing the cardio games (Hula Hoop, Stepping, Running), and I end each session out of breath and sweating. No, a single 2 minute stepping series on the starter level doesn't wear me out. 30 minutes of rotating between the 3 exercises in the more advanced mode (which you only get after having done them for 30 minutes...I think. Regardless, they are an unlockable you wouldn't see the first time you tried) will have your heart rate up just as effectively as the same amount of time on your average exercise bike or elliptical trainer.
    Would I lose any more weight if I drove 30 minutes to the nearest gym, paid the equivelent of a used car payment in membership fees every month, and used machines covered in somebody else's sweat? I doubt it. More importantly, I wouldn't bother, so I wouldn'get get ANY exercise. Walking into my living room and turning on the TV seems to have a much lower barrier to entry, so I can't easily make excuses for why I can't work out today.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by trdrstv (986999)

      I see a lot of people complaining that it's not a REAL workout, or it's just a gimmick. Knowing that the Wii Fit is sold out almost everywhere, how many of you have actually tried it?

      In general that's a criticism of something many people throw blindly at the Wii or Guitar Hero, or Rock Band simply because they don't understand it. They're quick to criticize and say "Why don't you just play [real] tennis, play a [real] guitar, or shoot a [real] Nazi?" and they miss the entire point.

      In general however, I can understand if people think Wii Fit isn't a workout. Some people may either beyond the point where the exercises are on the easy side of what they are used to, or they are of the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @02:18PM (#23560461)
    I have had the opportunity to play with the Wii Fit for a few days now. I like it. The style is very much like Brain Age and other training games on the Nintendo platforms. Some of the Aerobics and Balance games are fun to play with other people. It isn't setup to be competitive, but if you rotate profiles it works fine. Unfortunately many of the games don't have enormous amounts of replay-ability. It isn't long before you master each one and need to move up in difficulty. After you've perfected each one they are kind of repetitive and it doesn't take many days to get very good. As for the workout aspect, some of the exercises can get you to break a sweat, but most of them won't. The running in place exercises definitely can if you really put yourself into it. Rhythm boxing is also pretty good. I didn't do much of the yoga and strength training exercises, but it looks like they would be effective if you actually followed along with them.

    The use of BMI without any warnings about the flaws of BMI is a little disappointing, but generally it is accurate enough for average people. Still, it is good to be aware of what BMI is, and they don't do anything to help you understand that.

    Overall, I like it. I'd give it a 7 out of 10. You can really use it to work on your fitness. It probably won't guide you to being a top tier athlete, but just to stay in a reasonable shape I have little doubt it could work. Like most things at first it will be great, and then you will likely grow tired of it. You have to keep using it to get results, and there is no magic there. Like anything else you only get out of it what you put in. It nicely tracks your weight and BMI over time and provides graphs so you can see your progress over time. At first the games are lots of fun, but after the novelty has worn off (like with Wii Sports) the fitness stuff will remain for those willing to take it seriously.

    I'm looking forward to future games using the Wii balance board. There is a lot of potential there for some incredible gameplay.
  • Short answer: no (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @02:19PM (#23560479)
    "Will CR be reviewing the next installment of Gran Turismo?"

    CR picking up on Wii Fit is less an indication of CR getting involved in game reviews and more an indication of the success of Nintendo at reaching out to non-gamers. By the blurb alone it's easy to see that they tested it not as a video game but as a physical fitness device.

    So no, Consumer Reports will not be reviewing the next installment of Gran Tursimo, any more than they review the next movie or album.
  • by trdrstv (986999) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @02:22PM (#23560513)
    Ok, I'm watching the video and apparently the woman doing the voice over wasn't one of the 15 people using Wii Fit as she called the balance board "optional". Sorry, but running in place is only so exciting, and it's the only game (that I have unlocked anyway) that doesn't require the board.
  • I doubt CR is entering the gaming market, but only to test claims expressed or inferred that WiiFit is a viable exercise program.

    Most game reviews are like book reviews, they're pretty subjective and it depends on the what you like, but there is a need for an unbiased look at a video game that's claiming to be a fitness product.

    I disagree that you need a huge sample to test it out, just a diverse one. I suspect that while just about anything to get the couch potato off their butt would help, it's not going
  • by Tom (822)

    Will CR be reviewing the next installment of Gran Turismo?"

    No, they won't. You still don't get it, do you? While MS and Sony fought over who gets the bigger piece of cake of the gamer's market, Nintendo choose to make the cake larger. Quite a few of the titles you can get for the Wii are solidly on the borderline of what counts as a "game". Wii Fit is one of them. A few of the mini-games are just that, but the overall package just doesn't belong to the same category as Gran Turismo or Counterstrike or Halo.

  • Quoth the original poster:

    Itninja writes: "A few days ago Consumer Reports posted their first report on a specific video game: Wii Fit... Will this be a harbinger of things to come? Will CR be reviewing the next installment of Gran Turismo?"

    Great question. Let's go to the TFA [consumerreports.org].

    Now let's see... aha! First sentence!

    After an intensive few days of bending, jumping, and precarious balancing by Consumer Reports staff, under the watchful eye of expert testers from our Health franchise, we have our first test reports on Nintendo's Wii Fit, the wireless "balance board" that hit the market in North America earlier this week.

    Unless Sony starts making claims about the health benefits of Gran Turismo, I think it's safe to say no.

  • Near the end of the video the comment is made that if you aren't an athlete the Wii Fit will probably work for you. That is pretty much in line with what I've seen. We got one 2 weeks ago, and it does give you a workout if you aren't fit.

    My wife and eldest son are both very obese, and the machine can get them both sweating with jelly-legs. I'm not overweight, but don't get to exercise much any more. I find I can get my cardio right up on it. Is it a complete substitute for a gym with personal trainer?
  • by jockeys (753885) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @03:31PM (#23561679) Journal
    are a good thing in my mind. [disclaimer]I haven't managed to get my hands on a copy of this game yet, all the stores near me are sold out.[/disclaimer]

    But when DDR got big, I've got to say I saw it as a positive thing. Will it replace treadmills and such? Of course not. But, to someone with my attention span, a treadmill is VERY boring. A video game is fun and exciting, so I am much more likely to use it.

    Case it point: in my living room right now, I have a nice metal dance pad and a nice elliptical machine. They both cost about the same. Guess which one gets used more? Exactly. So even if the dance pad doesn't give a better workout, it gives a better workout anyway because I will actually use the damn thing rather than avoid it like the plague.

    Just my 2c
    • Know anyone with a hardware background? I can see a big market for a game that utilizes a treadmill and a Wii-mote. You can speed up and slow down your pace using the treadmill and you use the Wii-mote to turn, shoot, or interact in some other way with the environment (push other runners out of the way?).

      I could even see a Flintstones [copyright/trademark owned by someone] game, wherein you are using foot-power to race your own Flintstone-mobile.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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