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Review Guidelines

As per our Community Charter, we strive to provide fair, bias-free and independent reviews. We know that the community invest a lot of time and money into their passion so we want to make sure that we share our honest thoughts, feelings and opinions on products you may be excited to try out.


These review guidelines should give you a good understanding of our review guidelines. This includes our scoring policy, dispute policy and how we work with developers.

Reviewer's Style

Each person on the team is their own thinker. They have their own set of thoughts, opinions and writing style. We give them the flexibility to write however they feel in the style they feel fits best with the product at hand.

Why do we have multiple reviewers on the team?

Like other media sites in the world, we have a large team who supplies us with content. They’re all over the Globe. We want to ensure we have a diverse, opinionated and knowledgeable team. Having multiple reviewers means that we can assign different people products which fits their knowledge, experiences and expectations best.


For example, we wouldn’t ask someone who has a majority interest in general aviation to review a jetliner aircraft. That most likely wouldn’t be a fair representation of the product or intended audience.

Review Header-Box

In an effort to deliver as much factual information in our reviews as possible, each review has a ‘Review Header-Box’. This box includes information such as Developer, Publisher, Price (at time of publication), the product version we reviewed (as we know updates happen) and also who provided the review copy. If we bought it ourselves, then we will state so.


If a product is supplied by a developer or publisher, it won’t have any baring on our review or final score, but we want to be crystal clear to you about where we got the product from.

Who’s simMarket? And Why Sponsorship? 

We have a strong partnership with simMarket to enable us to continue delivering you product reviews. As part of the agreement, any review products will be sponsored by them. We’ll always link to the original shop / purchase point wherever possible.


By providing their link, it enables us to continue delivering great reviews from a range of products and brands.

Reviews — How we Format Them

We have spent a lot of time considering what’s important to the community and what they look for in a review. We have broken down our reviews into three key sections:

  • Main Body Text
  • “Turning onto Finals”
  • Summary
  • Overall Score

Main Body Text

Our Main Body Text is our overall thoughts and feelings on a product. We make an effort to combine factual statements with our emotions towards them. You may or may not agree with them, but we do our best to balance wherever possible.


To make sure our reviews contain the information we feel is right for the product, we will always include the below information (and some examples of what we’re looking for).

Presentation

This relates to how the product is presented to the user. This will cover everything from ease of installation, the supplied manuals and if there are any configurators / setting alternatives that are given to allow the flexibility for the user. We also consider if the product feels “polished” in this section, ensuring that if there are any bugs that they don’t ruin the enjoyment.

 

This will also cover the overall impressions from any texturing and modelling from the developer, or if it’s a utility, the ease of use for the user-interface.

 

Examples

  • A scenery package that installs without any manuals or a configurator would need improving.
  • An aircraft with a basic introduction guide and a user interface that allows you to change a few elements of your product would be as expected.
  • A utility with an easy-to-use user-interface and allows all settings to be adjusted, along with a good manual would be great.

Features

This includes everything that the product offers. This includes features within the scenery that add immersion. As for aircraft, this varies depending on the target audience. Some aircraft are aimed at being study level sims, whilst others are form the pilot viewpoint. Depending on the audience will vary this score.

Examples

  • Scenery which accurately depicts the airport, but adds no special features would need improving.
  • A study level aircraft which accurately performs to expectations, but lacks anything to add immersion or doesn’t make processes easier would be as expected.
  • An aircraft aimed at a more casual audience, includes all basic features you would expect from an aircraft and then adds some extra immersion would be great.

Performance

Includes everything from frame rates to VAS usage and the impact it has on the sim / PC itself. When considering performance, we take into consideration things such as location in the sim (as we know some areas are more intense than others), the size / complexity of the scenery or aircraft, and also, the impact on loading into the sim. We also use the recommended settings from the developer’s manual when considering this factor.

 

Examples

  • A small airfield in the middle of nowhere with a high VAS usage and low frame rate would need improving.
  • A complex and detailed airline with good frames, but high VAS usage would be as expected.
  • A large airport in an urban city with a sustainable smooth frame rate would be great.

Value

Very subjective and down to the reviewer to come to a fair conclusion based on multiple factors. This includes overall price of the product in relation to usage. It also takes into consideration whether other products are required to enjoy the product to its full extent. Factors from performance, presentation and features are considered as well.

 

Examples

  • A utility which required you to purchase the original product as well as charge a high price for very few features would need improving.
  • Low usage scenery for the average simmer. Despite being rich with features, it required an additional scenery package for use. This would be as expected.
  • A highly priced aircraft, which was full of features, performed well and included a range of manuals and accurate flying dynamics would be great.

“Turning onto Finals” Summary

This is simply a list of things liked or disliked about the product, based on the Main Body Text as stated above. It’s designed to give the reader a quick look at the product.


The likes should be key points from the review which they felt the developer did really well and are worth buying the product for.


The dislikes should be key points from the review which the reviewer felt could be improved or didn’t meet the reviewer’s standards.

Overall Scoring Guidelines

As of 2019, we have implemented the following scoring guidelines.


We no longer use an average of 4 scores, but simply an overall score between 0 – 10. We know that scores are subjective, but we try to give a numerical representation of how we feel about a product.

 

By removing the average, we feel this will increase the scoring range and allow more flexibility for the reviewer to be critical about a product.

Decimal Numbers are Allowed

0 – 1.9
This is a product that should be avoided at all costs. It simply is a waste of time, provides no enjoyment and clearly a rushed job from the developer to make a quick and easy buck. Only buy if you really, really, REALLY want the product and are willing to not have a great experience.

2 – 3.9
It’s really hard to recommend a product in this band simply because it does so many things wrong. There are a few moments of relief, but by the by, it fails to capture the imagination. Your money would be best spent elsewhere.

4 – 5.9

There are elements in the product which are really well done, but then there are times where you just want to bash your head on a keyboard. There’s good work, but the odd bug or inconsistency give you more frustration than entertainment.

6 – 7.9
For what it does, it’s a good product. It does some things really well, but lacks anything truly innovative or exciting. A product in this band is mediocre at best, but still worth they money if it’s of interest to you.

8 – 9.9
You most likely won’t be disappointed by a product within this band, even if it’s not your first choice of type of aircraft or airport. The developer has tried and successfully implemented some new cool features or taken advantage of newer technology from the simulators. Most of our boxes will be ticked if it falls here.

10

Not considered perfect, but considered such an excellent and exciting product that it’s hard to deny the sheer class and quality of the creation at hand. Fun, good value and tries to be different in many regards – it’s simply something that shouldn’t be missed by anyone.

Note: No score can be a negative number.

Handling Disputes

Sometimes disputes can arise from our reviews. We promise the community, as per our Community Charter, a bias-free approach to reviews, which can often mean a review isn’t as well received from a developer – especially if it receives a certain score.


Whilst we do everything we can to be fair to a developer, sometimes a product will just not be very good or not meet our expectations.
We make it very clear that when a product is reviewed by FSElite, it’s done with integrity and fairness.


Our scoring guidelines make it clear what we’re looking for in a product and how we judge. Ultimately, it’s down to each individual writer to justify their score in the body of the text. However, we understand that some people may disagree with that score.


To that end, we try and do several things to promote fairness to both the community and the developer that worked on a product.

Low Scores

With this in mind, if we review a product with a score of 5/10 or below, a draft copy will be sent to the developer. This is not to receive feedback to influence the score. It is our way to communicate with them and also digest the feedback before it goes live for the first time. A developer may reply with feedback, but that won’t change our view of a product or the score we felt was deserved.

High Scores

Whilst a ‘low score’ can be disputed, equally, so can a high score. Internally, we have 4 people on our core editorial team. During a review, it is read by a minimum of at least 2 of them. They have the right to challenge a score with the original author and ensure that everything is as justified as possible.


If a review is scored with a 9 or above, it must be approved by the Content Director. This means that 3 people have signed off on a score above a 9/10. Whilst we appreciate people may still disagree, we feel this due diligence provides enough to ensure that we carry our a fair and transparent way of scoring a product.

I'm a Developer and I Still Disagree

We want to hear from you. We do our best to inform you when a review is live, but isn’t always possible. Please use our contact form to reach out with your concerns and we’ll do our best to discuss it with you.


If we make a change to the review, it will be made extremely clear.

I'm a Developer and we Updated a Product Since You've Reviewed it

In an ideal world, we would review each and every update. Sadly, that isn’t possible with the amount of updates products receive today.

 

We do, on occasion, re-review products once we feel there’s a need to do so and time permits.

 

We make it clear on our reviews which version of the product was reviewed when it was published.

I'm a Community Member and I Disagree with a Review

Feel free to leave a comment in our comment section. The original reviewer will aim to get back to you. If you still feel unsatisfied, do reach out via our contact page in a “letter to the editor”. Someone from our editorial team will then get back to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if we Made a Mistake?

We will happily admit fault and correct whatever it is we did wrong. We don’t try to cover it up and we wouldn’t want to breach your trust like that.

Is FSElite Paid for Reviews?

No. Never.


Whilst we have various partners on board supporting us, we make it explicitly clear our opinions, thoughts and feedback on a product are of our own. We will never ever be influenced by advertising money.


Our reviewers are not paid either. They will get to keep the product for free, along with a few other little freebies on the side as a way of thanks for dedicating upwards of 10 hours on writing a review for the community.

"I still think you scored a product waaaay too high! You are bias to that developer!"

Reviews will never be perfect. Everyone has their favourite reviewers, types of products, etc. At the end of the day, we’re simmers just like you. We enjoy products, we don’t enjoy others. What our reviews reflect is that of a simmer using a product. We aren’t developers, we are just every day people who enjoy the hobby. If we like a product, we’re going to tell you about it and if that may mean we score it higher than what you think it’s worth.

I still have a complaint/question!

If this page does not answer your complaint or question, you can send a message through our contact page. Please select the contact purpose as ‘Letter to the Editor’.