Why do modern review scores feel like this diagram?

tzhu07

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1998169-1315159660139.png


In other industries like music and film, reviewers still use up the entire range. But video game reviews don't seem to do that anymore. Why?
 

Gorankar

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Advertising revenue.

Pretty much.
I trust the reviews of people I know, and that is about it. You can not even count on most reviewers to tell you about bugs, even game breaking bugs, let alone give you an honest opinion on a game.
The dollar wins, 99% of the time when it comes to reviews.

I would even argue that GOTY is meaningless these days. The game(s) with the best marketing wins those. That, and since there are numerous GOTYs handed out from various sites, mags, tv shows, it is pretty much now just another marketing term.
 

Kokain

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I remember when I didn't know about game releases. Game reviews came in the 90's and I used those until they become phony. Then after year 2000 I started relying on people's comments. Now you can't even do that otherwise you will end up playing Battlefield 3, COD or some Need For Speed franchise. 2010 I quit gaming........success!
 

Youn

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Also people tend to look at it like academic grading, anything below 80% is a "C" and thus not good:

A 90%–100%
B 80%–89%
C 70%–79%
D 60%–69%
E / F 59% and below
 

Mokkat

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The whole system is skewered.
Big review sites, are most likely influenced by deadlines and ad-revenue, and I feel like the attitude of most "professional" reviewers, is that of the mindless consumer: with no skepticism towards rehashing, cash-cow'ing, stagnation, bad trends, etc.
A recent example: game reviewer starts ME3 review with "it's a mixed bag", and still gives it 93/100.

On the other hand, you have the little guys, usually mad over the state of the industry and/or part of community driven raids (for the luls), posting 0/10 anger reviews with genuine critical points, that are sadly covered in too much bile to be of any use, other than to get fanboys mad enough to post a few 10/10s.
Example: hundreds of crappy user reviews for ME3, before any legitimate consumer would have been able to play through the whole game.


The number system is broken at this point. It doesn't work, we can't use it fairly and there's no point even arguing about it. It needs to go.
 

jamsomito

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I loled at your diagram, OP, because it's true.

However, I've heard it said in the business world many times that anything less than a 7.5 is pretty much a zero. Customer satisfaction is key, and if they're docking your score by that much, you're doing it wrong. Maybe the same goes here?
 

MavericK

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What it really does is make the 10-point scale useless. Basically you have to just start at 6/10 = 0 and go up from there.
 

piscian18

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I'm very frustrated that PayDay the Heist got ignored by most major reviewers and even the ones that did review it gave it incredibly low scores when literally everyone I play with thinks it's sliced bread 2.0. It's literally the best co-op game I've ever played and the most co-op intensive.

It's the most exhilarating co-op game I've ever played. It makes L4D look like a complete joke.
 
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Tudz

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It is a shame. It'd be great if you could just look at a game, check a couple of scores and decide if you want to buy it. Personally I don't like reading entire reviews and opinions of games before I myself have played them for the same reason I avoid movie reviews, I like to actually experience a game for the first time myself instead of through someone elses' experience.
when literally everyone I play with thinks it's sliced breath 2.0.
Sliced breath? That doesn't sound appetising, is that like morning breath that's so bad you can cut it with a knife? ;) :p
 

fps4ever

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Probably because people in the 80/90's were fooled by the Marketing bullshit and were unaware of paid for reviews like they are now with instant feedback. Gamers are sick of being shit on with buggy and consolized releases and it shows...score 1 for the Internet.
 

Thuleman

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I don't even read or pay attention to reviews. I get my info on whether a game is good or not from my [H] peers. However, I do agree with the academic scale, if a game isn't at least 8/10 then it shouldn't be called good.
 

piscian18

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It is a shame. It'd be great if you could just look at a game, check a couple of scores and decide if you want to buy it. Personally I don't like reading entire reviews and opinions of games before I myself have played them for the same reason I avoid movie reviews, I like to actually experience a game for the first time myself instead of through someone elses' experience.
Sliced breath? That doesn't sound appetising, is that like morning breath that's so bad you can cut it with a knife? ;) :p

BREAD DAMMMIT BREEEEEEEADD
 

Dark Shade

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There is no Bell Curve for business. It's pass/fail, and if it means you spend millions of dollars putting Master Chief's fucking face on every Dr. Pepper can and billboard from here to Timbuktu and line the pockets of 'game journalists/reviewers' in order to pass, then the company will do just that.
 

Thuleman

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Skripka

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Is it the scale or the games? These days, it seems to me, there are *very few* middle of the road games say that come out. A game is either great, or it is a halfhearted rushed attempt that blows chunk....with very little middle ground

Take Avatar, the video game. Awful animations, poor textures, awful camera angles, story lacking, crap controls. Metacritic scored it a 45% for perspective, and that is being generous IMHO.

Versus.

Fallout3, Fallout NV, Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls, Portal 2...you name it. 85-100% rating review scores

Are there that many games that fall into the "somewhat good" category actually made?

The scale might be skewed yes...but IMHO, games today tend to either suck or be pretty darn good.
 

Youn

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hmm, I'd say most games are "boring" and only a very few (like 1 in 10 games that rate 80-100%) stand out as being "good". I am a bit jaded though
 

fochkoph

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I still feel a five star scale is much better than a ten point scale since it cuts down on all that fluff and grey area. I mean, what the hell is the difference between a score of 84/100 and 85/100 or a 9/100 and a 10/100? How the hell do you make that call? Honestly now...

* = Total crap. Avoid at all costs and developer should close down and commit suicide. The Postal series comes to mind.
** = Pretty awful, but some might enjoy it. Maybe something that caters to a very strange and niche market. Dead or Alive series maybe?
*** = Average. Decent time sink and a way to distract yourself. A shallow game that isn't supremely rewarding. Modern Warfare comes to mind. Most games fit into this category.
**** = Worthy of your time. Excels at its target audience and has broad appeal. Pushes the boundaries, but doesn't break them. Does many things right, but some things wrong. Very rewarding experience. Most AAA titles fit into this category.
***** = Faultless. Few that ascend into the legendary/classic status. Master class at its genre and polished beyond perfection. Not just talking about the surface of the game, but it's underlying mechanics (read: bug/glitch free) and just outright works. Can't think of a recent game I'd stick here, maybe Deus Ex: HR.
 

chockomonkey

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I still feel a five star scale is much better than a ten point scale since it cuts down on all that fluff and grey area. I mean, what the hell is the difference between a score of 84/100 and 85/100 or a 9/100 and a 10/100? How the hell do you make that call? Honestly now...

* = Total crap. Avoid at all costs and developer should close down and commit suicide. The Postal series comes to mind.
** = Pretty awful, but some might enjoy it. Maybe something that caters to a very strange and niche market. Dead or Alive series maybe?
*** = Average. Decent time sink and a way to distract yourself. A shallow game that isn't supremely rewarding. Modern Warfare comes to mind. Most games fit into this category.
**** = Worthy of your time. Excels at its target audience and has broad appeal. Pushes the boundaries, but doesn't break them. Does many things right, but some things wrong. Very rewarding experience. Most AAA titles fit into this category.
***** = Faultless. Few that ascend into the legendary/classic status. Master class at its genre and polished beyond perfection. Not just talking about the surface of the game, but it's underlying mechanics (read: bug/glitch free) and just outright works. Can't think of a recent game I'd stick here, maybe Deus Ex: HR.

Indeed it should be like this, but very very few games should ever get that five star. Not skyrim, that's probably 3. DXHR, while good, would only be about a 4... too many things left unimagined. Honestly can't think of a game that's faultless. IMO, it'd be HL1 or DX, but while i found those titles faultless, i'm certain other people have found things they don't like about them.
 

Skripka

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Indeed it should be like this, but very very few games should ever get that five star. Not skyrim, that's probably 3. DXHR, while good, would only be about a 4... too many things left unimagined. Honestly can't think of a game that's faultless. IMO, it'd be HL1 or DX, but while i found those titles faultless, i'm certain other people have found things they don't like about them.

I still remember the driver crashes I got playing HL1.
 

chockomonkey

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I still remember the driver crashes I got playing HL1.

Could have been my setup back in the day, but i remember having troubles with every game, whether it were driver issues, or sound issues, you name it. Each game i had to mess with to get running right.
 

dark_reign

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Games are made for profit these days. When creativity mattered, developers had to think of new ideas and make a good and unique story/theme. Money didn't motivate them because most of these companies had just a handful of people working for them. Bring in the Xbox and greed set in. That's when games went to shit on a grand scale.
 

AceTKK

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There's one major fact that people seem unable/unwilling to recognize:

Video game review magazines/websites are not journalistic publications. They are marketing tools, purely and simply. Their job, their basis for existence, is to sell games to you. Your money is how they pay their electricity bills, and that money comes to them from the game publishers.

Sure, some guy running a blog is free from outside influence. But the guys with skin in the game: mortgages and payroll taxes due, employee health insurace costs, etc. will not go against the publishers. They can't, or they starve. So you get the situation we have now. The mags are owned (in spirit if not in fact) by the game companies.
 

FreiDOg

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Very true, unless there's a full page / multiple banner ads for the game on the review site, in which case it's more like:
0-8.5 Somebody didn't see how many zeros were that ad buy check, and has been fired. Along with the editor who approved it, the web guy who posted it, and the intern who carried copies around the office.
8.5-9 Avoid at all costs
9-9.5 Not bad
> 9.5 Worth a shot.
 

fochkoph

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Indeed it should be like this, but very very few games should ever get that five star. Not skyrim, that's probably 3. DXHR, while good, would only be about a 4... too many things left unimagined. Honestly can't think of a game that's faultless. IMO, it'd be HL1 or DX, but while i found those titles faultless, i'm certain other people have found things they don't like about them.

Excellent points. I agree that DX:HR was an amazing game, I did feel like there were plenty of missed opportunities. It is probably the only game within the past year or so which I can fondly reminisce about though, so that probably clouded my judgement. After putting a bit more thought into it, I'd say the only recent game that would get five stars from me is Portal. I'm sure some would disagree, but anyway...!

There's one major fact that people seem unable/unwilling to recognize:

Video game review magazines/websites are not journalistic publications. They are marketing tools, purely and simply. Their job, their basis for existence, is to sell games to you. Your money is how they pay their electricity bills, and that money comes to them from the game publishers.

Sure, some guy running a blog is free from outside influence. But the guys with skin in the game: mortgages and payroll taxes due, employee health insurace costs, etc. will not go against the publishers. They can't, or they starve. So you get the situation we have now. The mags are owned (in spirit if not in fact) by the game companies.

Ain't that just a hard pill to swallow. It's becoming increasingly difficult to find honest reviewers that don't appear to be chained financially to faking reviews. Totally avoid all major publications at all costs now-a-day, but in all honesty, people really shouldn't be relying on what some guy says about a game when their tastes might be completely different. Sure, some points might have some truth (game is broken, glitches, etc), but I think the industry as a whole would benefit from people buying what calls out to them, not what some guy tells them they should and shouldn't buy.
 

J W

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A score out of 5 isn't bad.

I also don't mind the old "two thumbs up" or "so-and-so recommended." I read reviews to find out whether a game is worth my time. I like it when the reviewer says, "yes, JW, this game is worth your time."
 

chockomonkey

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just for shits and giggles, i looked up some reviews on MW3...

gameinformer.com said:
Concept:Give fans reason to return to the annual blockbuster
Graphics:A few standout setpiece moments, but the visual style of the series is becoming predictable
Sound:The orchestrated, high-energy soundtrack is indistinguishable from previous Call of Duty games, and the multiplayer audio isn’t radically improved
Playability: You won’t find any issues with the controls. The core gameplay feels as tight as ever
Entertainment:Though the early portions of the campaign are poorly presented, the multiplayer offers enough subtle improvements to satisfy fans
Replay:High

and their rating? 9.0

:LOL:
 

jbz7890

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Crazy idea here: Games are getting better.

As developers gather more experience and have access to more powerful hardware and software, they become more likely to produce consistently good games. Just 10 years ago, the game industry was in its infancy, so it makes sense that the average quality of games was lower then than now.
 

piscian18

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Crazy idea here: Games are getting better.

As developers gather more experience and have access to more powerful hardware and software, they become more likely to produce consistently good games. Just 10 years ago, the game industry was in its infancy, so it makes sense that the average quality of games was lower then than now.

no.
 

DirtyB

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Versus.

Fallout3, Fallout NV, Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls, Portal 2...you name it. 85-100% rating review scores

Are there that many games that fall into the "somewhat good" category actually made?

The scale might be skewed yes...but IMHO, games today tend to either suck or be pretty darn good.

You had me until you threw Mass Effect into that mix.

Your graph did make me chuckle, but it's like anything there are always personal preferences, I still watch/read reviews because it gives me a larger idea of what the gameplay/style is like. Most people liked crysis and Mass effect but I thought they were both horrid, so I stay away from games that are like that or made by those companies.

Also remember the people who are making these reviews, they're MAJOR video game nerds, they're in video game journalism so chances are they're going to enjoy most games, otherwise why would they be doing what they do?
 
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TBickle

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The complete arbitrariness of review scores is why I prefer to read RockPaperShotgun, which eschews scores all together and instead goes with 'Wot I Think'.
 

eurin

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I wish the graphs could also capture the boosts in review scores big titles get (or I guess the score reduction for not being a big title). I laugh when an 80 metascore for an indie titles means it's fantastic, but every over hyped AAA of a game gets a 90, even if it's a turd..
 

Tudz

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Is it the scale or the games? These days, it seems to me, there are *very few* middle of the road games say that come out. A game is either great, or it is a halfhearted rushed attempt that blows chunk....with very little middle ground

I disagree. I think games these days are ALL middle ground and there's very few stand outs and really not that much utter shit either. Most the 100 or so games on my Steam list aren't games I can say are awesome "must play" games, but likewise very few of them are ones I'd say are "must avoid". They're all just mediocre, middle of the road, not devoid of merit, but not standing out either.

Back in the day I found I either liked a game or I didn't, there wasn't as much middle ground. Maybe because games were more simple, if you didn't like the core concept, there was really no reason at all to play.

Sometimes I wonder whether people get personal grudges against games (or group grudges in some cases), as there's very few games I could describe as pure shit, and even the ones I do I'm sure there's someone out there who likes them.
 

dark_reign

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Crazy idea here: Games are getting better.

As developers gather more experience and have access to more powerful hardware and software, they become more likely to produce consistently good games. Just 10 years ago, the game industry was in its infancy, so it makes sense that the average quality of games was lower then than now.
Games were actually better when a small group of people were making them compared to now, where the primary goal is to make a profit and creativity be damned. There are some exceptions, but it's mostly recycled garbage from nearly every large game developer.
 

UnknownSouljer

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I still feel a five star scale is much better than a ten point scale since it cuts down on all that fluff and grey area. I mean, what the hell is the difference between a score of 84/100 and 85/100 or a 9/100 and a 10/100? How the hell do you make that call? Honestly now...

* = Total crap. Avoid at all costs and developer should close down and commit suicide. The Postal series comes to mind.
** = Pretty awful, but some might enjoy it. Maybe something that caters to a very strange and niche market. Dead or Alive series maybe?
*** = Average. Decent time sink and a way to distract yourself. A shallow game that isn't supremely rewarding. Modern Warfare comes to mind. Most games fit into this category.
**** = Worthy of your time. Excels at its target audience and has broad appeal. Pushes the boundaries, but doesn't break them. Does many things right, but some things wrong. Very rewarding experience. Most AAA titles fit into this category.
***** = Faultless. Few that ascend into the legendary/classic status. Master class at its genre and polished beyond perfection. Not just talking about the surface of the game, but it's underlying mechanics (read: bug/glitch free) and just outright works. Can't think of a recent game I'd stick here, maybe Deus Ex: HR.

Not to be argumentative, but you moved from a 5 point scale to a 100 point scale. I think an actual 10 point scale is fine, that is from 1-10 not from 1-100. With a five point scale unless you're giving .5 increments (which would actually make it a 10 point scale) it's hard to distinguish a bit more finely the good from the great.

To answer the OP's question, the reason why grading is skewed is because the grading is similar to academic grading in which everything below a 7 (or 70%) is considered failing. Construction of a game itself is in essence what all those points from 0-6 cover. Is there a game I can play? Is there something for me to do? Does it actually run properly? Is there something for me to look at, does it make sounds? etc.

Seven-Eight you start getting the more poignant questions like: is the gameplay involving? Does the story draw me in? Do I actually want to keep playing?

Nine and above stops giving questions and starts giving answers. Something like, I can't stop playing this, the story is incredible, the gameplay and controls are responsive and gratifying, the graphics and sound are amazing, etc.

Where the 5 point scale has problems the 10 point scale does. The gradation between 7-8-9-10 is a lot better than simply is it a 4 or a 5? This is an area I think that IGN actually does well, although I agree with your point that an 83% vs and 85% doesn't mean much, it helps in the sense that you know it's above 80% but not quite that 90% score. I would ignore the second digit if it's annoying.

A 7/70% game is passable. All the elements of the game are there and they make sense. Nothing brilliant or breathtaking, but it could at least be considered "a game."
8/80% probably has something that's there for the people who appreciate that style of game. An example would be fighting games such as SF or Tekken. Other examples would be genre or series games like Castlevania. If you're a Castlevania fan and one of its games gets an 8/80% you'll probably enjoy it.
9/90% is where masterwork territory comes in; this is where the game contains the X-factor. Whether that is emergent gameplay, rich storyline, action, combined a cohesive art style and musical score that creates something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

These days like some other people in this thread have mentioned, unless it's a 9, I probably won't bother. For me personally that has more to do with time than it does anything else. I don't have time for everything, the best of the best already consumes a lot (still probably too much.) Usually that 9+ score is a consensus based upon crowdsourcing forums (Like [H]), review sites (Kotaku,IGN,RPS,etc.), friends, and my own gaming preferences.
 
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