Metacritic Founder to Game Reviewers: Use the Full Scale


One of the things that we try to do differently around here than at other game sites is handle our reviews with care. We do our best not to rush them, we try to tackle them thoughtfully, and really consider our scale when we assign grades. This hasn’t always worked out perfectly, and sometimes I still question the way we handle this, but I think we do a decent job. Other game reviewers? No comment.

Metacritic founder Marc Doyle, however, has some choice comments of his own. Talking with GamePro, Doyle expressed his opinion that game reviewers, quite frankly, need to play more crap. He believes that the sliding scale of game reviews to higher ranges is in part due to reviewers not playing truly bad games often enough.

Below-average games are not being reviewed as often as they once were and, partly as a result, critics have not honed their skills at assigning scores from the lower end of their grading scales. The question of exactly how bad a game has to be to merit a 1 score instead of 2 on the 10 point scale, for example, is not being contemplated with as much experience, care and precision as the 8 versus 9 consideration.

Later he goes on to talk about how the film industry is used to these bad scores, and knows how to adapt itself to them. He believes that playing bad games would help reviewers at their trade more, and would benefit the industry as a result.

So what do you guys think about this? In my mind, this could easily be a chicken vs egg argument. Have reviewers done this because of Metacritic, or did Metacritic come about because of this trend in reviews? Or is it the publishers who have put too much pressure on reviewers? Who exactly is to blame for this strange relationship? Go!

Source – GamePro

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

4 thoughts on “Metacritic Founder to Game Reviewers: Use the Full Scale”

  1. These video game journalists don’t know how to use the 10-point system. IGN (I know they get a lot of flak for what’s an issue in more than just IGN, but I’m not about to pass up an opportunity to slander them) and similar reviewers have inflated the numbers so much that they don’t have any consistent meaning. What’s so different between a 7 or an 8? Why did they cut up 9-10 with decimals? Why not just use 1-6 instead of inflating? It’s all an issue of incompetence. The numbers are just…things; they’re about as fiat as modern currency.
    The 10-point system is, in and of itself, an awkward system. It all becomes a game as opposed to a scale. All you need are about 7 scores. Whether it’s in the form of Roger Ebert’s 4 Stars which can be halved, or the Gamersushi letter system (it’s 6-point, but close enough), 7 scores keep the scale tight but meaningful, and still allow for difference between a good game and an instant classic game. The Gamersushi system is good because each score has noticeable differences in what qualifies, and doesn’t screw around with slight differences. If it’s painful to sit through, give it an F and don’t glorify it with 6 forsaken scores. If it’s good but doesn’t try anything new, it’s average. If it has innovation, good polish, and there’s a lot of effort put into it for enjoyable results, that’s where the 5th, 6th, and 7th scores come into play. If you’re going to have a 7th score, it has to be something incredible that revolutionizes or perfects a genre. Games can be great and not have to be the dawn of a new age.

    In short, reviewers have to understand the scoring system and have a consistent value upon which to classify games’ quality. No decimal points, no inflation so we’re scratching our heads trying to figure out if an 8.0 is average or terrible.

  2. I think a lot of the games that I would rate at the very bottom of the scale are ones I never finished, so the question then becomes: is it fair to review something if you only finished a fraction of it? I’m not sure it’s entirely ethical. Sure, there are reviewers who are up-front about hating something so much they barely got past the opening, but that should be an exception, and I question the value of that kind of review.

    I personally hated Brutal Legend so much that I sold it back after barely playing it. From what I can remember, Eddy actually enjoyed it more than he was expecting. Of the two of us, I feel like Eddy’s review would be more useful because he could tell you why he liked it and why you should give it a chance, whereas all I can tell you is that I lost patience with it once the gameplay mechanics started changing.

  3. I remember when I was reviewing Prince of Persia for this site and I was going to give it a certain grade, but once I wrote my review, I realized just how much I didn’t like it and downgraded it.

    I think writing the review is key. Write it, reread it and base your grade on that.

    How often have we have read reviews where the praise is glowing or negative, but the grade is just the opposite of that?


  4. I dislike decimal/percentages and aggregates. Therefore I hate Metacritic doubly. Also when a game gets a 1 or a 2 out of 10 it doesn’t matter which score is assigned as it’s a bad game regardless. 8 vs. 9 is a much more important argument as 2 competing FPSs, for example, where one scores an 8 and the other a 9 are going to be games worth purchasing therefore a comsumer must have an idea of why one is that little bit better. So he’s talking rubbish IMHO. : P
    I spend quite a lot of my idle time evaluating scoring systems (my brain is weird like that). Grades are fine, but sometimes there are too many intermediaries so it has the same problems as decimals. You guys have a nice balance AND clearly state what each grade represents in your minds. 10 point (no intermediary or otherwise) is too much.
    I keep hearing now and again that you guys want to revise the system (again) and I’m all for it. Get it to exactly how you envision it.

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