It’s a simple question. Where do you go to find good reviews of RPG products, so you know where to spend your hard earned dollars?
The answer, however, isn’t so simple. But as a guide, here’s some of the key places to go read RPG reviews, with some reviews of their reviews! (Oh, I can be so meta).
RPG.net. RPG.net is the site I prefer to submit my reviews to. They print reviews of anything – a given week may have reviews of super mainstream D&D products, other established products like HERO, independent games, super old games, totally fringe PDF games… Their volume isn’t huge but is larger than most, maybe 2-5 RPG reviews on every Monday and Friday, but they are notable for having the most complete reviews. The average RPG.net review is long, steps through each chapter of a work, gives summaries and analysis and opinions – there’s not a formal standard, but the understood bar of review quality is the highest of all the review sites. They also do board game reviews and occasional “other” (book, game) reviews. Annoying in that you can’t edit your reviews once you submit them, but nicer than average in that the reviews section isn’t just a forum, it’s real pages.
TheRPGSite. This site has fewer reviews, maybe a couple a week, just put into a forum. The reviews are also in depth, and lean more towards non-mainstream games but non-”indie” in terms of the formalized FORGE/Indie Press Revolution crowd. Reviews are pretty much all RPG. A larger percentage are by a core set of people, especially RPGPundit, so you may agree or disagree with the reviews in bulk based on your philosophical leanings.
ENWorld. Higher volume (a fistful every day), in a customized forum. Some are comprehensive but some are shorter. This part of ENWorld was dead a while and has just relaunched so I’m unsure about the sustain rate on it, and the historical review database is offline. They also have sections for lots of non-RPG stuff. Much more d20-oriented than the other review sites.
RPGNow. Loads of volume; most products in their catalog have a couple reviews at least. The down side is that most are a short paragraph at best. Here’s a representative example. But the star rating and number of readers is surfaced on the product page, so you can quickly see the popularity and average opinion of the game.
Flames Rising. A good mix of games, strongly leaning towards the indie side, some length if not the quality analysis of RPG.net. Decent rate of new reviews, a couple a week.
The Forge. Analytical reviews of some older indie games but this has been inactive for 4 years. Apparently reviewing indie games hurts people’s feelings and is what “the Man” wants you to do.
Gamingreport.com. Slow rate of submission. RPG and other stuff like board games mixed in. Decent length.
Amazon has some on their product pages, but they tend to be short. And Amazon only carries the larger selling RPG products. Although Amazon has the crowd power down, as people can rate whether reviews were helpful or not, so you get good context.
There are other sites that claim to have RPG reviews but they have a handful at best. GameWyrd for example has fewer reviews than random personal sites like John H. Kim’s. I’m not all that prolific and here’s my personal reviews page – if you have less than that on your site, please give it up and contribute to one of the real review sites.
Really that’s it, which is sad. I looked for reviews of some of the games nominated for ENNies and/or Indie RPG awards and came up blank. I encourage everyone to choose a venue, and submit some reviews! Even a fringe market like RPGs is saturated with thousands of products and people only come in contact with a sliver, and can buy even less. Reviews are the best way of separating the cool games from the dross of pooed-out PDFs.
If you know of other good RPG review sites, I’m all ears!