Game review scores has to go
June 17th 2020
I have been reading gaming magazines since a lot of you have been borned. Our first magazine had a stormtrooper on the cover, from the first Dark Forces. It was an amazing game, but I don't remember the score for it. It doesn't matter because we played it, well at least the demo for a while.
Ever since those magazines came out, the reviewers used a scoring system to summarize their opinion about the game they reviewed. They mostly used a scale of 100, 10 or 5.
However as the gaming market become really saturated with more and more games, and less and less quality, and also marketing become a powerful force behind these scores.
I don't want to imply that many review scores are influenced by giving reviewers something in return, but it's possible. It doesn't have to be money, btw.
My main problem with review scores is it says nothing. Let's say we use a scale of 10. An FPS game gets 8.5, which is a pretty great score. Then a good cRPG comes out and it gets 9.2. Wow, right? Almost perfect game. Except this doesn't tell us anything. You would think that 9.2 is better than 8.5 and the cRPG is a better game than the FPS.
A score doesn't tell us about, if it's within the genre, so we would know that the latest Call of Duty with IGN score 9.5, is indeed a better game than Bioshock Infinite 8.2. We don't know if it's compared to other games overall.
Another problem is this: a 20 year old game which got a 9 from a magazine, and a remake or a sequel comes out (it's possible we live in the age of System Shock remake and System Shock 3!), and you ought to have to compare to the original games. Certain gameplay elements might be altered to suit the modern gamer crowd, or maybe they stuck with old stuff, just for nostalgia. How do you score that? Well, you can't.
The problem is also there are so many reviewers. In the old days you knew about who is FPS expert at a magazine, who played the RTS games, etc. Nowadays everybody plays everything, and that seriously can alter scores. A person who mostly plays strategy games, might find traditional point&click adventure games boring, and scoring down (either intentionally or not) games is possible.
And it happened a few occasion. One time with Alien: Isolation where IGN, Gamespot, Ars Technica (which is not even gaming related, but everybody plays games nowadays as I mentioned), basically scored down, because they were so inept and impatient with the game. The score - which was under 6 - probably was a deciding factor for SEGA not to make a sequel. People who likes stealth and/or horror games still saying that it's one of the best game ever in the genre. The score was downright missleading, and I read dozens of opinions 5 years after the game has come out, that "oh man wish I could played this game on release, but I read the review scores…".
A score system actually makes reviewers lazy. They don't have to write in-depth articles about story, gameplay, music, sound, bugs, etc. They can be very superficial with their writing, since they know, most people just their for their score at the bottom of the page. Same with video format, 5-6 minutes is hardly enough to talk about everything, what you like, dislike, what would you change about a game. That's why youtubers are king of the game review world, because people do want to hear your in-depth opinions. They don't want to spend money on a game, that sucks. They also trust the youtuber better, because they have a personality that's good to listen to. I know, comparing writing to a visual essay is not fair, but if you are good writer, they will read you anyway. I remember the magazine days, that's why I bought it…
Scores has to go, write better articles and make better videos. If you are tired to write for a bigger site, go independent. If you do good work, you will find your audience!
I wrote this post, because I saw the Metacritic score for The Last of Us, Part II. Overwhelmingly perfect. At the time of writing this post, there are 48 perfect scores (100 what the metacritic use). No game this good, no game this perfect.
My all time favorite game is Alien:Isolation. I love the first movie, I love the atmosphere of the game, but even I know it's not perfect. Many people complain about that it's too long, that they could cut of some part of it. While I don't agree with it (in my opinion it adds to the survival aspect of the game), I certainly understand it. Using save stations (save points instead of save whenever you want, or checkpoints), was also critized. I also encountered some bugs at the beginning that almost made me gave up on the game as whole!
My other favorite game is the Thief series, and I would certainly not say that it's a perfect game, and I played them on and off in the past 20 years!
No way that The Last of Us 2 is that good. I saw Skill Up's video about it, and he actually talked about flaws and problems. I like that, didn't mask anything. Although he got so much shit on social media, that he won't do a spoiler video. Erik Kain on Forbes also did an article about the reviews: Two Warnings About ‘The Last Of Us Part 2’ Review Scores.
The game reviewers can't talk about the last 12 hours, because of Sony NDA. Fantastic! So basically a game, that's reportedly 25-30 hours long, you get a score based on the first part of the game. Fantastic!
Let's just forget about game review scores, please…
This is day 31 for #100DaysToOffload, where we write about different things on our personal blogs. Join the project or just read the blogs (we have RSS and coookiez!).