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Old 10-09-2009, 07:02 PM   #1
joetbd
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Game sites hate MetaCritic because its factual

Its very popular these days to attack aggregate sites like Metacritic and GameRankings.
Which seems nonsensical to me. Meta Critic is not the one boiling games down to a number. Rather, they are merely reporting the scores generated elsewhere. You dont blame the newspaper because they reported the local baseball team lost.

I have a theory. Game reviewers dont like metacritic, because it clearly shows that ALL reviewers have the same opinion, of every high profile game.

They are so afraid to give their individual opinion of anything. They want to have the right opinion, the correct opinion, the popular opinion. And maybe thats why they really hate Metacritic, because it illustrates that Gamespot, IGN, Gamespy, ect ... are all just clones of each other. Giving the same single opinion on virtual all high profile games.

There is a "we all must agree" incestuousness about most gaming websites, that you dont see with movie reviews, book reviews, or music reviews. At least, we did not used to see that with classic movie reviews. Remember Siskel and Ebert? The very foundation of the duo, was that they had their own individual takes on everything. There was more disagreement between those two guys (even when they both agreed on thumbs up or down), than you normally see from 50 gaming websites.

85 reviews of GTA IV, and the biggest disagreement is whether it is nearly perfect, absolutely perfect, or should we create a new religion based on GTA IV.

Im not saying anyone should give "Gears of War" a bad review, just for the sake of being different. I am just distrustfully of absolute 100% agreement, on a subject that should be should be sharply divided.

Last edited by joetbd; 10-15-2009 at 03:19 PM. Reason: removed poorly worded sentence
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Old 10-10-2009, 01:40 AM   #2
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Re: Game sites hate MetaCritic because its factual

Personally, I love MetaCritic. it's great. a few clicks and i can see a bazillon reviews. my particular preference? pick a hot game and scroll to the bottom. the last 5 reviews are usually the most trustworthy and hype-free, in a lot of situations.

the only thing i don't like (and it's not MetaCritic's fault) is when publishers start using the aggregate to pay/reward developers. that particular practice is complete bullshit for a lot of reasons, IMO.

otherwise, i've got no problem with aggregates.. it's just like you said: they're just reporting what we're saying. you're on to something about the me-tooism, though. i think it's pretty clear that few reviewers are willing to be the "odd man out" when it comes to review scores and such.
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Old 10-10-2009, 05:51 AM   #3
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Re: Game sites hate MetaCritic because its factual

I wasn't aware of the fact that reviewers don't like Metacritics. Having said that, I will certainly agree with the notion that they probably wouldn't want to lose their credibility, based on the fact that they are very much mirroring each other just to 'go with the flow'.

That's why I hang around here and I worship Yahtzee.
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:37 PM   #4
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Re: Game sites hate MetaCritic because its factual

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Originally Posted by Brad Gallaway View Post
Personally, I love MetaCritic. the last 5 reviews are usually the most trustworthy and hype-free, in a lot of situations.
Absolutely. With highly rated games, I usually go right for that bottom score(s). I find that people giving a game a 10 are usually no help at all, in weighing the pros and cons.

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I wasn't aware of the fact that reviewers don't like Metacritics.
They dont put it in a banner ad "we hate metacritic". But, if you ever listen to their podcasts. Metacritic is never mentioned in anything but a negative connotation. IGN, 1UP, Gamespot, they all seem to blame metacritic for the boiling a game down to a simple number mindset.
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Old 10-11-2009, 09:22 AM   #5
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Re: Game sites hate MetaCritic because its factual

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Absolutely. With highly rated games, I usually go right for that bottom score(s). I find that people giving a game a 10 are usually no help at all, in weighing the pros and cons.
People giving games a 10 irks me at the best of times. Example, Alot of places gave Gears a 10, and Gears 2 a 10. So really they're leaving no room for improvement, Gears 2 was superior in a number of ways...but not according to the scores. So when Gears 3 comes along, no doubt it will also get a 10...meaning its essentially the same game as the previous two according to the scores. Giving ever game a 10 leaves no room for improvement in the next instalment.


Also, it doesn't really help that certain websites/mags are leaned on quite heavily by developers, some even accepting a "donation" in exchange for a good review. Also the affiliated mags and websites, would you ever see a bad/balanced review foe HALO in the official 360 magazine? Nope.

Reviews are just another market for advertising in this day and age. Sigh.
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Old 10-11-2009, 01:00 PM   #6
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Re: Game sites hate MetaCritic because its factual

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Originally Posted by Adelleda View Post
People giving games a 10 irks me at the best of times. Example, Alot of places gave Gears a 10, and Gears 2 a 10. So really they're leaving no room for improvement, Gears 2 was superior in a number of ways...but not according to the scores. So when Gears 3 comes along, no doubt it will also get a 10...meaning its essentially the same game as the previous two according to the scores. Giving ever game a 10 leaves no room for improvement in the next instalment.

Also, it doesn't really help that certain websites/mags are leaned on quite heavily by developers, some even accepting a "donation" in exchange for a good review. Also the affiliated mags and websites, would you ever see a bad/balanced review foe HALO in the official 360 magazine? Nope.

Reviews are just another market for advertising in this day and age. Sigh.
I can't speak to your latter point, but I think the business about 10s for sequels is valid. I personally have no issue with giving a game a 10. I'm not here to argue with you about whether a game can ever get a 10, that's a long meandering thread for another day.

You use Gears as your example, but what about what happened last year with Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4?

When GTA4 came out there was so much press and so much hype that you'd think the "Citizen Kane of gaming" had finally appeared. 9.5's and 10s were passed around like water and more than a few people proclaimed it Game of the Year. Then... MGS4 came out eight weeks later. All all of a sudden all of the talk was about MGS4 and all of the accolades were thrown at its feet. More than a few people noticed this and a bit of a backlash resulted. Granted, it wasn't that big or we'd all be talking about it, but long story short, people were really questioning how a game could just come along and be given such an honor (GOTY) with an April release date.

Maybe it was the limited review time and extraordinary technology and story cutscenes on display in MGS4 and GTA4, but reviewers who were clearly blown away by both suffered from blowing their load on one game (GTA4) first.

I think this was a shining example of reviewers not really knowing how to temper their excitement while reviewing games or just not knowing how to fairly dole out scores or ratings.

The only way the majority of review sites knew to praise GTA4 was to anoint it GOTY or give it a 9.5 or 10. They didn't know how to express themselves, their excitement (which is really what it boils down to) over the graphics, story and gameplay. When a game that many (arguably) thought was better is released soon after, all these same reviewers can do is reuse the sames words "GOTY", "best ... ever", "uber... whatever", "perfect 10". Understandably, this makes the accolades on the other (older) game seem premature. But you can't take back review scores, especially when they came from so many sources.

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Old 10-13-2009, 01:54 AM   #7
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Re: Game sites hate MetaCritic because its factual

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Originally Posted by Dale Weir View Post
When a game that many (arguably) thought was better is released soon after, all these same reviewers can do is reuse the sames words "GOTY", "best ... ever", "uber... whatever", "perfect 10".
I think, for several months, starting in later 07, gaming websites were on an active hunt to name something/anything the greatest game ever. The problem was, after they named something the Greatest Ever, there was a new favorite a few weeks later. Bioshock, Super Mario Galaxy, Call of Duty 4, Halo 3 ... and finally GTA & MGS.

And to get back to my original point. There were NO decenting opinions. Thats what bothers me. All of these games, like most high profile games, got a very tight grouping of scores. With no single review going more then 2 points off the average (usually not more than 1 point off average).

Out of all the Halo 3 scores listed on GameRankings, only gamecritics called it merely "good". When sites like GameCritics happen to agree with the herd, we have NO voices with alternate opinions.

But this doesnt just apply to the "perfect" games. Almost all high profile games (games that get alot of pre-release coverage) get a very tight grouping of scores. Look at Fable 2. Not part of the perfect game hype, but the scores are very tighly packed together in the mid 8's. Varying one point off the average, is about as far as a reviewer can go with these games, before they are branded as wrong.

On the other hand, games that just get dumped onto the market, without a lot of fan fare, often get much more wildly varying scores. Not just indie games but even licensed properties get widely different scores, when they dont see alot of pre-release coverage. Like "Evil Dead: Regeneration" for example. It's scores range from the 3 to 9. In fact, there is no cluster of scores to call its "norm". It got multiple 4's, 5's, 6's, 7's, and 8's. "True Crime NY" and "Jaws Unleashed" too.

Its a shame we cant get this variety of opinion, on high profile games. The biggest spread we have seen in recent years is Assassins Creed. And the only disagreement there, was between 7's and 9's. That minor division was so unusual that people continue to talk about it 2 years later.

I think most games get "the score of least resistance". Its alot easier to operate a website, when your reviewers give the expected scores. It generates less hate mail from fans, makes better relations with publishers, and it is probably just plan easier to write in high volume.
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Old 10-15-2009, 04:25 PM   #8
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Re: disliking a popular game...

On the subject of why reviewers dont want to give reviews that go outside the narrow range of what is exceptable. I present to you a demon souls review by "Steriotyp" at gamervision.

It goes nearly full 3 points off the normal (the most of anyone on the internet).

Its a good review, I think. It describes the game in such detail, I feel I have played the game a little (which I have not - dont have a PS3) - a rare quality in a review. He does something that I think is very important. Steriotyp supplies detail and reasons. He supplies the reader with enough information, that they could actually come to a different conclusion about the game than he did. How many reviews do that?

What was his reward? Some pretty negative comments from posters in the comments section. All, I believe, simply because he didnt give the game a 10 out of 10. I would be willing to bet money. That if you leave all of the factual statements in the review, and just change the conclusion and final score, no one would have complained one bit.

For crying out loud, he gave the game a 6. And suddenly he's a moron. A 6 is considered so completely unexceptionable, that the posters consider that justification for attacking the reviewer. Its no wonder why websites grade games the way they do. A different opinion does not spark debate. It creates a storm of "your stupid" "your not qualified" "you suck" responses. Its really sad.

"wtf kind of reviewer are you?"

"Yeah I bet you like Halo"

"maybe the reviewer should grow a set. then go back to playing a man's game"

"Have you even played the game?"

"This is a poorly written review by a person who completely failed to understand the game's premise and appeal"
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Old 10-17-2009, 07:14 AM   #9
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Re: Game sites hate MetaCritic because its factual

i don't really understand how the entire media/reviewing process became obsessed over scores. or why people even care at all?

i'm hoping that the blacklash against low-scoring reviews from high-profile games are just coming from little fat 12-year olds who spend too much time on the net. at least that's what my faith in humanity tells me...
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:34 PM   #10
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Re: Game sites hate MetaCritic because its factual

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i don't really understand how the entire media/reviewing process became obsessed over scores. or why people even care at all?

i'm hoping that the blacklash against low-scoring reviews from high-profile games are just coming from little fat 12-year olds who spend too much time on the net. at least that's what my faith in humanity tells me...
scores help the consumers make decisions.

lets say a consumer only had money for one game and was interested in both saints row and grand theft auto. After reading the reviews for both games, he/she discovers that both games are really similar and critics really liked both games, but gta had a little more to offer and as a result was given a higher score. Therefore the consumer sees this and can make a easier decision.

IMO, the decision to buy a game shouldn't be based on someone else's opinion, but if I'm interested in games of a certain genre where there are games really simular to each other, then I want to know which one is the better value for my money, and scores are a good way to show that.

Scores and reviews have gone hand and hand for a long time. Book reviews, movie reviews, game reviews, doesn't matter. whether it's two thumbs up, 4 out of 5 stars, or 9\10, they just go hand and hand.

Sites like metacritic are for the consumers as well. By averaging the scores of critics and listing the reviews and sites, they help the consumer make more educated decisions. If main stream site have a problem with it, then maybe they should rethink how they do things.
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:42 PM   #11
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Re: Game sites hate MetaCritic because its factual

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Sites like metacritic are for the consumers as well. By averaging the scores of critics and listing the reviews and sites, they help the consumer make more educated decisions. If main stream site have a problem with it, then maybe they should rethink how they do things.
The problem is that a score is a very limited, one-dimensional view of quality. Good reviews tell more with words than a score -- You might decide to buy a game that had a low score based on a well-written review, because even though the negatives won through for the reviewer, you could tell that it would still be fun for you. Scores suggest an objective measure of quality. In truth, fun is subjective.
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:45 PM   #12
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Re: disliking a popular game...

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Its a good review, I think. It describes the game in such detail, I feel I have played the game a little (which I have not - dont have a PS3) - a rare quality in a review. He does something that I think is very important. Steriotyp supplies detail and reasons. He supplies the reader with enough information, that they could actually come to a different conclusion about the game than he did. How many reviews do that?

What was his reward? Some pretty negative comments from posters in the comments section.
Amazon.com syndrome! Fans like to have their fandoms appreciated and told they're awesome for liking the things they're fans of. (Hell, I'm no different. Look at me wailing that Brutal Legend has been poorly received.) As such, they negatively rate or comment on reviews that give bad reviews, while praising those that praise their fandom object.

There's no flipside effect, because if it's outside your fandom, you don't search out those reviews.
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:43 PM   #13
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Re: disliking a popular game...

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Amazon.com syndrome! Fans like to have their fandoms appreciated and told they're awesome for liking the things
Because of their business model, professional game reviewers tend to fall into the trap of giving the "acceptable" review.

(unpaid) Player reviews might seem to be a good alternative. But while there is more variation with player reviews; that variation often comes in binary form.

10 out 10 its great,
or 1 out of 10 its the worst game I ever played.
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:44 PM   #14
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Re: Game sites hate MetaCritic because its factual

Great way of saying that, Jack. I may have to steal that and use it elsewhere.
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:51 PM   #15
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Re: disliking a popular game...

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Because of their business model, professional game reviewers tend to fall into the trap of giving the "acceptable" review.
Which is why you need good editors.

Good editors are invaluable here. They can talk to the game developers and publishers and explain the long-term benefits of an honest press*. They can shield the reviewers from influence. Gold editors are worth their weight in gold.

* This is ABSOLUTELY TRUE. If the big sites keep on delivering PR for the publishers, inevitably they will debase the currency of their site, and the gamers will stop caring about their opinion. I think it's happening already, to be honest.

Last edited by JackSlack; 10-19-2009 at 09:52 PM. Reason: Silly tags not working.
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