Monday, 27 August 2012

No More Review Scores

Most video game reviews, whether they are posted on a big gaming website like IGN or CVG, or on a small two man blog like this one usually score a game with a number. There will be a lengthy text review, maybe a video review and then a score. In theory the score is so people can quickly see if the game is worth buying (according of course to the reviewers opinion, a ten out of ten game to one person may well be a nought out of ten game to another) but the reality of this is quite different.

Sites such as Metacritic, which gather these scores together, can really make or break a game. For instance if your game doesn't get an eight out of ten then you could get a pay cut, the series could be cancelled or the development of the game could perhaps be handed over to a different group of people within your company. All of these are bad things for both gamers and game developers. Developers lose money, we lose what could be good games. Remember the first Assassin's Creed? It wasn't that great and the scores reflected this, but it had great potential, which was realised in its sequels. If the series had been canned because of its poor scores then we would have lost what is now one of the greatest franchises in the world.

This is the larger of the two big problems that review scores can cause, the other problem is that many people won't read the review, they will simply skip to the end of it and look at the score. They see a number and that's it. They can't possibly understand why a game is good or bad based solely on a number, you need to read the reasons, the explanation is key. Of course if you haven't got that kind of time then a score could be useful but I would argue you could just read the review when you do have the time. If you don't know why a game got an eight out of ten then you can't know that the reasons for it are reasons that you will like, what if the reviewer praises things you don't normally like in games? Or what if they criticise something you might not see as that big of a deal? If you just see a review score then you won't know these things and could end up missing out big time by passing up a great game or wasting £40 on a bad one.

It is because of this that from now on neither me nor Alan will post scores for anything that we will review, there will be our review, a picture and maybe some video footage but nothing else. This way we can't a) contribute to what we'll call the Metacritic problem and b) ensure that people read the review and can have a better chance of understanding why we said what we said instead of just going "oh it got a six out of ten so I won't but it".

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