Everyone's a Metacritic: Why aggregating game reviews is absurd


Apparently these few lines have turned the world upside down:

Go to Metacritic, which is destroying the video game industry, by the way, and check out the Tomb Raider: Underworld’s metascore. Right now it’s 78. That’s not good enough, apparently.

Which is to say that I dislike the practice of aggregating review scores, be it on Metacritic, Game Rankings, Rotten Tomatoes, etc. You can’t quantify opinion to begin with, assigning a numerical value to how you feel about a game—if you can tell me the difference between an 9.0 and a 9.1 you deserve a biscuit—but then to average several opinions together and wind up with a nice, neat “metascore” is absurd.

Twenty people reviewed this game, so we’re going to take their non-connected opinions, average them together, and come up with a single number that, magically, represents a game’s full worth.

I just don’t buy it, sorry.

(Specific to Metacritic, who made this site’s editors kingmakers? What magic formula do they use to assign weights to the different sites? To that end, what makes one review any more “valuable,” thus weighted more heavily, than another’s? I could go on GameFaqs and read a fan review of a game and learn just as much about the gameplay experience as I can by going to any one of the big gaming sites—IGN, GameSpot, and so on.)

As for the actual phrase, “destroying the industry,” that was meant to convey my annoyance at seeing things like “92/100 on Metacritic!” I see in advertisements. Again, that artificial number means absolutely nothing to me. Never mind that it’s an open secret that game publishers often times use a Metacritic score as a stick—your game had better get a Metacritic score of [XYZ] or you can forget about royalties.

I thank you for your time.