Let’s continue now with a thesis developed late last year, that Metacritic is, in so many words, dumb. This Web site magically condense a game’s every review into a single, bite-sized number. In so doing, however, Metacritic disregards the importance of reading individual review from reputable sources—I most value Edge‘s reviews—and makes developing games all the more difficult. It’s pretty beat when your publisher says to you, “Sorry, your Metacritic score is only a 73, you won’t be getting that bonus we discussed.”
I bring this up again today because the director of Splash Damage (they developed Enemy Territory), Paul Wedgwood, recently complained about the role that Metacritic, and numerical game reviews in general, has in the development process. Too often do publishers point to the Web site and yell, like Al Pacino does in every movie now, “What’s wrong with this?!”
Then there’s the quality of game reviews themselves, and whether or not publishers should even take into account some meaningless number (9.2 out of 10!) when making decisions. How many Web sites or magazine[s] fully use their 1-10 scale, versus rating the majority of games in the 6s, 7s and 8s?
Until video games reviews are treated with the respect that, say, movie reviews are, and until they’re standardized—is a 1UP “A” the same as an IGN “9.0 out of 10”?—the likes of Metacritic will still be able to wield undue influence.