The SavyGamer Awards 2010: Results

The results are in, and the votes are counted, here’s the definitive answer to the ultimate question of “Who is a bit rubbish, and who is a bit good?”. We’re looking at Retailers, Digital Distributors, Publishers, Developers and online retailers, and the criteria that they’ll be judged on include value, quality of service and attitude towards customers. Read on to find out who’s crowned a being Savy, and who is going to forever bear the mark of UnSavyness.

Highstreet

Highstreet retail is gradually growing less and less relevant to the games industry, but people stilfl spend millions of pounds on games there every year. Who did you chose as the best and worst that the Highstreet has to offer?

Worst highstreet shop environment and customer service:
With 46% of the total votes, the loser is GAME. Here’s what you had to say about GAME:
“NO I’M NOT INTERESTED IN PREORDERING SODDING FIFA” – Samartriot
“Would you like Kinect, sir? Oh, you want to buy a new game? Why not buy a used version instead for a couple of quid less? Why not? Why not?!?!?!? etc” – Aradiel

Worst Highstreet range of goods:
With 42% of the total votes, the loser is HMV. Here’s what you had to say about HMV:
“HMV recently took over the former Virgin on Glasgow, Buchanan Street. Previously a whole floor was dedicated to games and free demos. Now more than half that space has been set aside for overpriced pay by the hour Call of Duty pods.” – Auspex
“Two rows. One of them has about 5 PS2 games, and they rarely have anything new in.” – Matthew Berry

Worst value Highstreet retailer:
With 40% of the total votes, the loser is GAME. HMV was a close runner up at 32% of the vote. Here’s what you had to say about GAME:
“Low trade-in prices coupled with overpriced second hand games.” – Adam Macleod
“Just far too expensive.” – Matt

Dishonourable mentions:
“CEX is a den of BO and terrible metal” – Tim
“PC World: Knowing nothing about IT seems to be a pre-requisite for employment there.” – Donkeyfumbler
“HMV: Super Street Fighter 4, brand new, £15. Super Street Fighter 4, replay (second hand) £17.99. Seriously, what the fuck?” – Aradiel

Overall loser:
GAME

Best highstreet shop environment and customer service:
The most popular response, with 31% of the vote was “none”. Oh dear. Runner up with 28% of the vote was Gamestation. Here’s what you had to say about Gamestation:
“Nice approachable staff that are willing to joke with customers and don’t bang on about stupid loyalty nonsense.” – Samartriot
“They feel more like gamers selling games.” – StrongBow

Best Highstreet range of goods:
With 46% of the total votes, the winner is GAME. Here’s what you had to say about GAME:
“GAME: Although many of their outlets have limited supplies of PC games” – Jago
“GAME: Though depends on size of outlet” – CroMagnon

Best value Highstreet retailer:
With 27% of the total votes, the winner is Gamestation. Here’s what you had to say about Gamestation:
“Only because the competition is so bad.” – Samartriot
“Widest selection of pre-owned games, mostly ok prices. Rarely shop there though, as online retailers are infinitely cheaper.” – CroMagnon

Honourable mentions:
“While lacking in perhaps the large console choices of dedicated retailers, Toys R Us does seem to throw up some genuinely classic PC titles for stupidly low prices. Getting your hands on even new PC releases in Game or Gamestation can be a chore so to see a store still selling some old beauties is a unabashed joy.” – Mccy_McFlinn
“Grainger Games – basically, anything they have second hand tends to be cheaper than anywhere else. For first hand most shops are the same.” – Aradiel

Overall winner:
Gamestation

Online Retailers

Certainly where I do the bulk of my games purchasing, and often the best prices can be had from online retailers. But which ones are worth giving your hard earned cash to, and which should you avoid like the plague?

Worst online retailer quality of service:
With 78% of the total votes, the loser is The Hut Group. Here’s what you had to say about The Hut Group:
“Do we really need to go into details about this? Orders taking over 40 times their usual dispatch time, pre-orders being missed, wrong versions being sent out, used versions being sold as new, and never any help from customer service at all. Also, like all the hut owned properties, your order’s status automatically updates. Not based on reality, but based on an algorithm designed to lie to you.” – Aradiel
“Repeatedly not dispatching items for a week after their dispatch date. I’ve made 4 pre orders with them, all 4 times the items haven’t been dispatched until a few days after their day of release.” – Nuronv
“Definitely some dodgy things going on there. Prices shouldn’t go up during a sale. They seem to have a very questionable concept of ‘in stock’ too.” – Navagon

Worst online retailer range of goods:
With 43% of the total votes, the loser is The Hut Group. Here’s what you had to say about The Hut Group:
“The hut and every stinking ‘front’ they pretend to be.” – StrongBow
“All the ones run by the Hut – a tiny selection most of the time.” – Aradiel
“I have had most orders cancelled from Zavvi. Even stuff that they say is in stock isn’t in stock” – LT Hammer

Worst value online retailer:
With 25% of the total votes, the loser is The Hut Group. Here’s what you had to say about The Hut Group:
“not keen on their voucher buggering abouts” – Samartriot
“Although their prices are normally very cheap, especially with the monday sales, they never actually have the items in stock.” – Nuronv
“because fuck ’em, that’s why” – Sam

Dishonourable mentions:
“Lik Sang: they don’t even exist anymore :-/” – Samartriot
“CDWow: Their prices are just criminal.” – Aradiel
“Tesco: I’ve had multiple orders cancelled by them as they were unable to deliver goods at the prices promised. Following the Left 4 Dead nonsense last year, they gave me a discount voucher that the website wouldn’t let me use.” – Matt

Overall Loser:
The Hut

Best online retailer quality of service:
With 48% of the total vote, the winner is Amazon. Here’s what you had to say about Amazon:
“Never had a problem” – Donkeyfumbler
“Amazon deserves kudos here as well, the many years they’ve served me I’ve had no problems.” – Cabbeh
“Quick dispatch and delivery” – Matt

Best online retailer range of goods:
With 74% of the total vote, the winner is Amazon. Here’s what you had to say about Amazon:
“Due to the websites nature they often have amazon resellers that have unusually or old titles” – Nuronv
“They sell friggin’ everything” – tomatojustice
“They just seem to have EVERYTHING” – StrongBow

Best value online retailer:
With 29% of the total vote, the winner is Amazon. Here’s what you had to say about Amazon:
“Maybe not the cheapest all the time but usually cheap enough to make it worth going there. Free delivery is nice and using Royal Mail rather than shitty curriers is also a plus.” – Samartriot
“Reliable, and some of the best prices around” – John

Honourable mentions:
“ShopTo.net: consistently the cheapest pre-orders at around £32-34, which is more than a fiver cheaper than other places” – CroMagnon
“Zavvi: Often have recent releases for very cheap.” – Adam Macleod
“Play.com: Whenever I look for something, 9 times out of 10 it is the cheapest.” – Aradiel

Overall winner:
Amazon

Digital Distribution

Depending on what statistics you look at, DD represents possibly up to 50% of the total of PC game sales, although I’d not be surprised if it’s even more than that. Here’s what you think of the various game download services.

Worst Digital Distribution range of games:
It’s a tie, both Games for Windows and Green Man Gaming got 29% of the vote. Here’s what you had to say about them:
“GFW’s library of games has a very limited sellection, and their refusal to stock Steamworks games means they have some of the COD games, but not all of them” – John
“Green Man have a very spotty catalogue, looks like a lot of Publishers won’t touch them with a barge pole” – X

Worst Digital Distribution client/quality of service:
With 32% of the total vote, the loser is Games for Windows. Here’s what you had to say about Games for Windows:
“It manages to lose my password when I try to log in and gives a “Oops what happened to this page” on an Xbox site when I click on “click here to resolve”. Great work guys. A bit of googling shows the terms of use have updated so I have to login to xbox com with my browser to “accept” them. Who tests this shit?” – MaxNormal
“Intrusive, slow, and often required on top of Steam.” – Adam Macleod

Worst value Digital Distribution outlet:
It’s a three way split, Games for Windows, Direct 2 Drive and Impulse each got 15% of the vote. Here’s what you had to say about them:
“GFW: One rubbish deal a week isn’t good enough in today’s market” – Annnnnonymous
“Direct2Drive have sales often as well, and are by no means bad, especially when comparing them to retail. But more often the sales aren’t as good as Steam or are on games I care less about.” – tomatojustice
“Half of the deals Impulse email me about aren’t even available in the UK, when it’s games that are available worldwide on other platforms” – LT Hammer

Dishonourable mentions:
“Onlive: shockingly high prices for games that may or may not be here tomorrow; that’s if you can get them working in the first place.” – Mccy_McFlinn
“Official ones: EA store, Ubisoft shop: they’re really the last to drop prices” – CroMagnon
“DotEmu: Sorry guys but ancient crap games just aren’t worth what you’re asking for them. Picked up a few free things but have never been inspired to buy.” – MaxNormal

Overall loser:
Games for Windows

Best Digital Distribution range of games:
With 90% of the total vote, the winner is Steam. Here’s what you had to say about Steam:
“Is there a bigger selection than the one offered by Steam? I’ve no idea, why bother looking when every game I could ever think of crops up on there sooner or later” – Mccy_McFlinn
“Steam. No contest” – Navagon

Best Digital Distribution client/quality of service:
With 72% of the total vote, the winner is Steam. Here’s what you had to say about Steam:
“Download times are better than anybody else. Easy to move installs to a new computer and backup for resinstall / saving a freind having to download all covered. There is good reason these guys are the leading service. Biggest downfall is regional pricing.” – MaxNormal
“Steam (if this doesn’t win I’ll eat my digital hat)” – Sam

Best value Digital Distribution outlet:
With 75% of the total vote, the winner is Steam. Here’s what you had to say about Steam:
“The sales are the stuff of legend and have been directly responsible for amassing over 100 games on the service in just under eight months. Most importanly of all, however, the low prices have meant taking plunges into the unknown depths of mysterious indie games is rarely a gamble at all. No longer is it a trawl of forums to garner opinions and an endless parade of gameplay videos. Now, I can throw down £3 and let my own opinions form. At that price, you’ve got your money’s worth after only a couple of hour’s play.” – Mccy_McFlinn
“Steam is inconsistent when it comes to newer releases, but their constant sales pretty much keep them top of the game.” – Cabbeh

Honourable mentions:
“GOG. No DRM. No DRM. No DRM. Plus you just can’t beat their prices..” – Hodag
“Gamersgate will bend over backwards to ensure you’re happy with your purchase. How many DD sites would offer a refund on a DRM-free game?” – Navagon

Overall winner:
Steam

Publishers

Publishers

The grown ups in suits behind video game development, but which ones are you happy to fork over your money to, and which do aren’t deserving of your custom?
Publishers with the worst games:
With 36% of the total vote, the loser is Activision, closely followed Ubisoft by with 27%. Here’s what you had to say about Activision:
“boring boring boring” – Samartriot
“They milk their franchises to death by forcing annual releases.” – CroMagnon

Publisher with the worst attitude towards their customers:
With 47% of the total vote, the loser is Ubisoft. Here’s what you had to say about Ubisoft:
“Oh nose, people won’t buy our rubbish half-arsed games. Let’s punish those that do!” – Aradiel
“Draconian DRM will never prevent piracy. Just annoy legitimate purchasers.” – Hodag

Worst value publisher:
With 65% of the total vote, the loser is Activision. Here’s what you had to say about Activision:
“Seem to have started charging console prices for PC/Mac games” – Nuronv
“it’s incredible how much old CoD games are still going for.” – CroMagnon

Dishonourable mentions:
“SEGA: For cynically making Sonic 4 episodic.” – Adam Macleod
“2K Games: For the delayed Bioshock 2 DLC on PC and the shitty Mafia 2 gutting for DLC.” – Paul

Overall loser:
Activision

Publisher with the best games:
With 29% of the total vote, the winner is EA, closely followed Valve by with 28%. Here’s what you had to say about EA:
“This year, I’d have to say EA” – Matthew Berry
“Pretty consistently good. Sometimes exceptional.” – Navagon

Publisher with the best attitude towards their customers:
With 68% of the total vote, the winner is Valve. Here’s what you had to say about Valve:
“I don’t think I need to go into this one too deeply. Most. Free. Stuff. Ever.” – Mccy_McFlinn
“They work on story, gameplay, and polish equally well and release products that are fun. People buy these products in droves. Why can’t other companies do this?” – Hodag

Best value Publishers:
With 30% of the total vote, the winner is Valve, closely followed by EA with 27%. Here’s what you had to say about Valve:
“I’m saying Valve, between packages like The Orange Box, and other recent things like Alien Swarm and offering L4D and L4D2 and TF2 on constant sales cycles, it’s all fun and games.” – Cabbeh
“TF2 gets more updates than some subscription based games. Always keeps me coming back for more.” Technine

Honourable mentions:
“Paradox: They don’t treat their customers like filthy thieving scum and don’t try and lessen the value of second hand copies. They also pay attention to gaps in the market in areas that most publishers don’t pay heed to – giving gamers the games they want to be playing: Like a third Dungeon Keeper(ish) and a new Transport Tycoon style game!” – Navagon
“SEGA: Bayonetta and Vanquish.” – Adam Macleod
“Ubisoft (this is slightly ironic): by banging crazy DRM on their PC games, it means no one buys them with the result that they drop in prices more quickly than any other releases. See Splinter Cell Conviction or AC II, dropping to about 15 quid after a month.” – CroMagnon

Overall winner:
Valve

Developers

The clever people who make the games that we play, but which ones do the best job, and which are you never going to support again?

Developers with the worst games:
With 17% of the total vote, the loser is Rebellion. Here’s what you had to say about Rebellion:
“Once great, now awful.” – Cabbeh
“A shadow of their former selves.” – LT Hammer

Developers with the worst attitude towards customers
With 16% of the total vote, the loser is Ubisoft Montreal. Here’s what you had to say about Ubisoft Montreal:
“They keep dumbing down their games more and more each year” – Annnnnonymous
“Conviction was the last straw for me” – Tim

Worst value developers
With 19% of the total vote, the loser is Blizzard. Here’s what you had to say about Blizzard:
“They sure know how to milk their customers with WoW and now Starcraft 2 is being delivered in 3 full-priced chunks.” – CroMagnon
“They keep doing everything they can to wring money out of WOW players” – Annnnnonymous

Dishonourable mentions:
“Neversoft: Pretty much just disintegrated once they started churning out the GH games.” – Cabbeh
“There’s so many, usually a dev who makes really shitty games doesn’t end up making many more, so this is hard. But this year I’ll say Danger Close, the devs who made the singleplayer Medal of Honor.” – tomatojustice

Overall loser:
Blizzard

Developers with the best games:
It’s a tie, both Platinum Games and Bioware got 20% of the vote. Here’s what you had to say about them:
“BioWare: emotionally engaging? Check. Horrible B-movie esque romance scenes? Check. Memorable and absorbing stories? Check.” – Cabbeh
“Platinum Games – I can’t think of a bad one I’ve played.” – Samartriot

Developers with the best attitude towards customers:
It’s a three way split, Team Meat, Mojang Specifications and Gearbox each got 10% of the vote. Here’s what you had to say about them:
“Team Meat: Totally open and honest, and giving away The Internets for free” – Tim
“I <3 Notch” Technine
“Gearbox have always struck me as particularly friendly. And they did rescue Duke.” – CroMagnon

Best value developers:
It’s a tie, both Mojang Specifications and Bioware got 14% of the vote. Here’s what you had to say about them:
“Every time I go to play Minecraft again it has been updated so much it could practically be a new game.” – MaxNormal
“Dragon Age and Mass Effect are good, long games with loads of replayability and regularly updated with new content (though the value of the DA:O DLC was at times questionable!)” – Matt

Honourable mentions:
“Mommy’s Best Games: Great indie games for 80 Microsoft Points.” – Adam Macleod
“Tripwire Interactive:They have consistently improved their games after launch and update them regularly, even with new content.” – tomatojustice

Overall winner:
Bioware

So that’s the winners and losers this year. Any that you disagree with, and any that got missed out that you think deserve a shout out or condemnation? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks to everyone who took part.

25 Comments Leave yours

  1. Cabbeh #

    I need to stop adding pretty much to comments.

  2. Adam #

    I don’t think anyone will be surprised at “the hut group” and “Games for Windows” being unsavy lol.

  3. I’m sad not to see Take 2 at the top of best publishers.

  4. Diziet #

    The staff in my local Game are excellent. I keep meaning to compare/contrast the second hand prices with the CEX around the corner but haven’t gotten around to it. Also the customers at the CEX are a scabby bunch which is a real shame.

    • Yeah, I have to say that the GAME in Oxford has always seemed to avoid most of the horror stories about the store. They’ve even got a large PC section too. Too expensive to shop there, but I do use the online store regularly and never had anything but the best service with it.

  5. Ben #

    I agree with pretty much everything here, except Blizzard being unsavy – Just personal taste, because I love the Diablo series and World of Warcraft and don’t mind paying for either. “They keep doing everything they can to wring money out of WOW players” Hm, almost as if they’re a company looking to make a profit…

    • Lewie Procter #

      I think the point is that they not only charge for the base game, three expansions, subscriptions fees but also have microtransactions. Sure, it’s only because their customers are happy to pay it, but it’s still pretty bad.

      • Mathonar #

        But the microtransaction stuff in WoW isn’t actually anything other than vanity sutff, it’s not like selling you better game changing items. And some of it has been for charity lets not forget.
        I’m more bothered about the slagging for Starcraft 2, yes it’s been split into 3 but it’s not like parts 2 & 3 are just expansions being charged at full price, if they’re the same size each as WoL then that would be pretty fair value.
        ALthough, not that it is what i bought if for, i do wonder what parts 2 and 3 will do for multiplayer

      • Lewie Procter #

        Perhaps people would be more tolerant of it if SC2 wasn’t ~50% more expensive than most other PC games.

  6. Cabbeh #

    I’m a little shocked by Ubisoft Montreal, the only game in recent memory I didn’t like was the Prince Of Persia: The Movie Cash-In title.

    Loved everything else, PoP 2008 and Assassin’s Creed II/Brotherhood especially.

  7. Stanbul #

    The problem with Blizzard isn’t that they are a company trying to make money, its that they do it in a way that’s detrimental to their games. Their ‘solution’ to horrible population and faction imbalances in World of Warcraft? Charge players to transfer. The outcome of this? the problem gets worse and worse, but hey, not to worry, Blizzard’s bank balance is looking good.

  8. Bruce Rambo #

    Just a warning; for some people logos are serious, serious business and they will hit you with a take down order over your unauthorised use and modification thereof. No, seriously. In fact the Hut group could use this as an valid reason to demand the removal of the entire article, which serves as negative press for them.

    Interesting to see confidence in bioware remains high despite the recent nosedive in quality and intelligence of the games. Still fun, no longer epic.

    I also suspect the responses on the Hut group are subject to a degree of echo chambering – after all, this IS the site that first pointed out they were fucking around with sales and offers. But despite this, they ARE generally cheap and I do eventually get my games. Yet to actually find a site that has completely up to date stock listings and sent out preorders on time on a regular basis. Play and Amazon also have failed to do so before.

    • Lewie Procter #

      Thanks for the heads up, but I think The Hut asking me to take down this post would cause worse press than this post itself.

  9. Sam #

    I’d like to thank SavyGamer for all of the amazing deals this year, and since it started. It’s one of a very small group of sites that I excitedly check the RSS feed for on Google Reader.

    250 unread items? Check SavyGamer, one or two others, then mark all as read. I can’t thank you enough, really!

    • Lewie Procter #

      Thanks a lot, I’m glad to be of service.

      • Mccy_McFlinn #

        I’d like to add to the thanks. I check the site several times a day – not least because I missed out on Civ 5 for £2.35 (never again!).

        An excellent site and, most importantly, a clean and clear one. I’ve seen a couple of sites like it but they’ve been astoundingly ugly and desperate to cram ads in my face. Kudos Lewie and thanks for quoting me rotten in the article above, I’ve now taken to referring to myself as a published writer – which oddly sounds like douchebag when people say it back to me.

  10. StrongBow #

    Yeah, I’d have to say that there was a category missed out “best game deal hunting site” with Savygamer taking 100%. I love this site.

    I also agree with the guy about Take 2. Now that I think about it, when I was filling in the form, I had a problem thinking of some.

    I know it’s a bit more work, but maybe next year you could pre-fill some with drop down menus that had some names in them, I was filling in steam for online retailers at first till I got further down the page 😀

    Thanks as always Lewie, was looking forward to these results 🙂

  11. Efth #

    As long as Ubisoft doesn’t release a new R6Vegas game, I don’t care about their DRM, because all their new games are shit to begin with.
    After they raped Silent Hunter, they defecated on the dead body of Splinter Cell and who knows who is next.
    I might just might get ACII one day, but for the console.

    I hope they wake the fuck up soon and A)remove this stupid DRM, B)stop making shit games for a quick buck, because at the end that’s what they will end up with, a dollar.

    • Navagon #

      Even if they did it would probably be as much a departure from the series as Conviction was from Splinter Cell.

  12. Navagon #

    Not a lot in there I’d be inclined to disagree with. But I wouldn’t label Valve a publisher. They’re both a multi-studio developer and a distributor but they only self publish, really. Not that I doubt their aptitude, mind.

  13. DrGonzo #

    Well I got as far as the first few bits and just thought this was a really stupid list. So GAME and HMV are the worst game retailers in the UK. Maybe that’s because they are the only game retailers in the UK?

    • DrGonzo #

      I also found it strange so many people had bad service from HMV. They have always been pretty excellent for me. HMV even let you return games on the basis that they are shit or buggy, or my favourite – I completed it in one evening and that’s too short, yes they actually gave me a full refund for all those reasons! I don’t know any other game shops that would do that.

      • DrGonzo #

        Triple post sorry. Also, GAME and Gamestation are the same shop and deliberately price themselves so they both sell certain things cheaper than one another. So to say one is the best value and one is the worst is pretty stupid too in my opinion.

      • Aradiel #

        “So GAME and HMV are the worst game retailers in the UK. Maybe that’s because they are the only game retailers in the UK?”
        They aren’t the only game retailers in the UK – there are also CEX and Grainger games at least.

        “So to say one is the best value and one is the worst is pretty stupid too in my opinion.”
        Yet that’s how the votes were cast, it’s not like Lewie just decided to say it that way – it could be that the people that voted for GAME being worst value didn’t actually vote for Gamestation as best value.

        Your complaints are poorly founded – perhaps if you disagree with the results from voting then maybe you should have voted?

  14. BigThorsten #

    It seems that in Germany all retailers suck. Last time I went to a GameStop store is was pretty depressing to see what old and expensive stuff they stock.

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