Overrated: The Truth About Videogame Reviews and The Power That They Wield

Picture by Ben Paddon, GJAIF (www.gamejournos.com)

What’s The Score?

Think back to last month.  THQ was getting ready to release one of its biggest titles of the year, Homefront.  It cost the publisher a considerable amount of money, had John Milius (of Apocalypse Now and Red Dawn fame) for a writer, and arguably a pretty interesting gameplay concept for its multiplayer mode.  All was well for the industry giant until the reviews came pouring in.  Review scores weren’t quite the mid- to high 80s that THQ were expecting, and by the end of 15th March 2011, the game had an aggregate score of 72 on Metacritic.

What happened next?  Wired UK reported that “that same afternoon, THQ’s stock fell from around $6 (£3.70) per share to around $4.75 (£2.95) per share”.

It’s incredible to think that reviews were able to have such an impact on the company, especially considering the fact that THQ already had a review embargo in place until the actual release date of the game in the United States.  But such is the power of videogame reviews in today’s world, it would seem.

What’s more disturbing, however, is what came from everyone’s favourite industry analyst Michael Patcher (you know, that guy that makes all the ridiculous predictions about Nintendo), in response to the whole “fiasco”.  In the following quote, pay particular attention to the part in bold:

“[THQ] had very high hopes for the game, promoted it a lot over the last few months, and most expected a score in the mid- to high 80s…Low 70s is only average, and typically means sales of 2 million or fewer for a new intellectual property. It could sell more with marketing support, but I think 2 million is a fair guess.”

That’s right, the 70s, not the 50s, are considered to be average.  What madness is this?  Review scores have become increasingly inflated over the years.  The amount of games that achieve a 8, 9 or 10 from the biggest and most influential videogame news websites is pretty phenomenal.  In the past 3 months, IGN has issued a whopping 9.0 or higher score no less than 15 times.  Each of these games is supposedly “amazing”.  While I don’t doubt that titles such as Crysis 2 and Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection are good games, are they so spectacular that they are deserving of a 9?  I haven’t heard a single person say anything special about Crysis 2 since it released, unless it’s about the game’s engine.

Reviews serve a key purpose: to inform you, the reader, whether or not a certain product is worth your money. In these cash-strapped times, a bad recommendation can be costly (or, at worst, force you to lose out a bit on a trade-in). Are videogames really getting that much better, or are standards failing?

A Predicament A Bit Too Close To Home

Review scores have always been something of an issue here at Bits ‘n’ Bytes headquarters. Deciding upon a scoring system that not only makes sense to the people reading our reviews, but also those who are writing them is tricky business. As you may well already know, we eventually opted for a simple tiered system, which uses our “Recommended” and “Mark of Excellence” labels. Games that don’t receive a label aren’t necessarily bad; they could well be pretty good depending on what you’re looking for from a game. But we felt that our reviews would carry much more weight if people were able to make up their minds based on what we actually thought, rather than what number we gave a game. After all, how do you gauge the difference between a 7, a 7.5, and an 8 anyway?

And herein lies the problem: there are multiple videogame review websites out there, each with their own scoring system. And how a website defines its criteria for what constitutes a 10 or how bad a game must be in order to score a woeful 1 is entirely up to them. At the end of the day, a website is well within its rights to decide how it goes about rating products, but this does cause a considerable amount of problems in the process.

An overall system that all websites subscribe to would still have its faults, but ultimately it would present less of a problem. Review aggregate sites such as Metacritic take all the scores from the most prominent critic reviews and compile them into one big average score for a piece of software. Metacritic even states itself that, if the scoring system is different or no score is presented, it decides upon a score based on the “general feeling” evoked from the review. So as well as having a variety of systems across numerous websites, we also have an aggregate site that can potentially skewer the score or opinions presented in a review.

Videogame reviewers are a bit like a panel of judges - they may sit at the same table (the videogame press industry) but do they all use the same marking criteria?

Now, this isn’t Metacritic’s fault – they’re just trying to compile data about products because that’s what they do. But I imagine that their job would be a whole lot easier if they had a standardised, overall review system for all sites to go by. Furthermore, it would present the reader with a more accurate view of how good or bad a game actually is. What’s the difference between a 10 from GameSpot and a 10 from IGN?  Sure, I might be able to find out somewhere by referring to the review legend that each of those sites has, but can we honestly expect all readers to do that?  Of course, a standardised system would still be entirely dependent on how reviewers used it.  If they do not assess a game according to the review criteria and continue to pump out ridiculously disproportionate scores, then you essentially end up with a system of inflated scores across the board.  This would be down to the readership to essentially “name and shame” poor reviews.  However, this is not a reliable failsafe; the videogame news readership is notoriously bad when it comes to things like user reviews, and the inner fanboy or fangirl in us can play a key role in making us see past the faults of a game when we shouldn’t.

Therefore, it’s still difficult for scores to be representative of what they actually are.  A 7 is not average and it should be closer to meaning pretty good or something.  With review scores being the complicated mess that they are, it’s not hard to see why the team here at Bits ‘n’ Bytes Gaming eventually opted for a somewhat tier-based system.  Even then, we realise that it’s not perfect, but we hope that by placing the emphasis back into the actual written aspect of a review, we will end up providing a more trustworthy and honest opinion.

Those Publishers Are Tricky Ones

If there’s one thing that videogame reviews truly have the power to do, it’s to make publishers act stupidly.  In a desperate act to ensure that their games sell by the million, publishers have been known to do some pretty silly things.  In some instances, when things haven’t quite gone their way, they’ve reportedly gotten writers fired for giving bad reviews.  And in others, their own employees have taken some pretty rash action to secure good sales, without thinking about the consequences.  There have been plenty of publishers in the past who have attempted to secure positive reviews for their products through deals with videogame press outlets.  One of the most notorious cases of this in recent times was the whole fiasco between Ubisoft and German videogames magazine Computer Bild Spiele over Assassin’s Creed II.

If your memory is a bit hazy, Ubisoft basically told the team at Computer Bild Spiele that they could only have an early review copy of the game if they guaranteed that the game received a “sehr gut” mark.  Choosing not to receive a review copy was the difference between the review making its way into the press outlet’s next issue or the one after (a potentially costly decision).  Destructoid’s Jim Sterling summed up most people’s thoughts on the issue back when it happened in August 2009:

“Of course, asking an outlet to guarantee something like that before they’ve played the game is asking them to trade in every ounce of integrity they’ve worked to build, and if these allegations are true, it’s a shame that Ubisoft felt the need to barter against someone’s self respect like that.”

Thankfully, Computer Bild Spiele didn’t give in.  But it does make you wonder how many press outlets out there will actually trade some integrity in order to get that quick scoop.

The Final Verdict

It’s quite astonishing to think how much of an impact review scores truly have.  What seems like a simple number listed next to a game to indicate how good or bad it is is in actual fact something a lot more worryingly complex.  People visit videogame news websites and read magazines expecting to find trustworthy and honest opinions, but that’s not necessarily what they’re getting.  We have a non-standardised scoring system that is all over the place, and some devious publishers that seek to undermine the review process in order to make a profit.  And when reviews impact their sales so considerably, you can almost understand why they do it.  The example about THQ that I gave at the start of this article wasn’t a joke.  In the current economic climate, if a game is a colossal failure, it can result in the closure of studios and the loss of jobs.

However, no matter how woeful the worst scenario can be, this doesn’t excuse these actions.  If publishers want their games to sell well, then the solution to their problem is pretty obvious: make better games.  There’s a reason why you didn’t see Valve going through hoops and circles to make sure that Portal 2 was a critical success; they just ensured that they made a brilliant game.  If more developers went about their business in a similar fashion, not only would the consumer benefit a lot more, but the review system would probably also become properly aligned, as the games at the very top would contrast more clearly with those towards the middle and bottom.

My sentiments are perhaps a little too idealistic in parts, but if a universal review system were ever seriously proposed, I know that I’d be one of the very first people to support it.  In the meanwhile, I urge all my colleagues and peers in the videogame news industry, whether they be IGN or a small blog, to look at their own review systems and actually work out what it all means.  If you can’t clearly distinguish your criteria from the offset or if your “average” category starts at 7, then a lot of reworking is in order.

Share your thoughts: Are review scores out of sync?  Would you favour a comprehensive system for all press outlets to subscribe to?  And should business needs ever come before integrity for both publishers and reviewers?


Comments
40 Responses to “Overrated: The Truth About Videogame Reviews and The Power That They Wield”
  1. Sebastian Force says:

    I think different people have so many different ways of scoring, some people think the movie “five star” way while others think in a 1-10 way, but I do think scores have some good. We know different people have different interpretations of things, and that goes double for a review, and also, (sorry to say) but there are outlets that I don’t trust in writing reviews for several reasons. Remember when IGN got the exclusive GTA IV review? I would never trust a review from them, because there’s no way an exclusive review is a trustworthy one. I also don’t trust everyone’s writing ability. I’ve seen and like the work people do at B&B, but there are some people that don’t do a good enough job reviewing games, or just completely gloss over serious elements of a game.

    However from places I do trust, I trust the scores they give, and understand that the scores will fit. I’ve played inFamous, then read the review and agreed with the score perfectly. While there are companies that try to abuse the policy, I think that most reviewers will actually turn them down rather than take the company up on the promise of a good score. Every time a trade like that attempts to happen, we hear about it. Personally, I couldn’t imagine trying to review a game that I had given a score to, and then giving it a different score. My review would emphatically contradict the score, and then the review wouldn’t be given the credit it deserved had I just gone with my original thoughts.

    I always laugh that the game industry is the only one with this problem, but at the same time, it does feel a bit more like we’re a community. Overall, I think that games do deserve scores, but if people want to step back and say “this is crazy, I don’t want to deal with it” then I can’t blame them that much.

    • Bryan says:

      IGN are the last site on earth you want to go if your looking for consistent and fair reviews. GTA4 got a perfect 10 that says it right there. I won’t even get into their extraordinary biased towards their precious little Xbox.

      • IGN is the reason I stopped believing most review sites out there. Devil May Cry 2. I don’t even want to try and throw it out for fear of the garbage can spitting everything across my kitchen floor due to the foul taste in its mouth that reeks out of that steaming pile of silicon.

      • Scott Carmichael says:

        IGN really is a site where you mainly just read stuff by the writers you like. Unfortunately, IGN hires way too many crappy reviewers and those writers cover many AAA games and let their fanboy tendencies affect scores too much. Plus, on sites like IGN, no one is ever punished for ever giving a game “too high” of a score.

        I like IGN because I like the personalities of the staff and the podcasts they make. However, this is problematic because while I like people such as Greg Miller (who is genuinely funny during the podcasts) he puts out some awful crap (like his infamous Dead Space 2 review: http://www.ign.com/blogs/Greggy-IGN/2011/01/24/well-now-i-know-what-reddit-is/).

        Not all game sites should be read for their reviews, just as not all game sites should be read for stuff other than their reviews.

  2. Dave says:

    I normally don’t comment on these sites, but i just wanted to say PHENOMENAL article. I’ve been saying this for along time now. Still nothing is going to change but nice to see there are some who feel the same way.

    Reviews shouldn’t even have scores.

  3. Dave says:

    let me just add to i’ve seen IGN say alot that a game is very fun but then give it a 7 or 7.5 and because of that “low” or “average” score people don’t get it. But yet if a game is very pretty with no substance/depth and most importantly isn’t all that fun IGN will still give it a 9. Something is wrong here. Games are meant to be fun and it seems reviewers have forgotten that as well.

  4. Tim says:

    GTA IV and Saints row was a good example. High production value and a great looking game in GTA IV but SR2 was actually much more fun. Yet the review scores are clearly one sided for the one. Something is wrong here…

    • Scott Carmichael says:

      This has more to do with so many “sacred cows” existing in gaming.

      For example, a site won’t outrage readers if they piss on Saints Row 2. They will, however, get a ton of bad press, backlash and lose potential fanboy viewership (which could mean hundreds of thousands or millions of visitors) if they take a crap on GTA IV (which deserved it).

      Some of the most notorious franchises that are immune to fair scores by major sites:
      • Mario (Major console releases [not stuff like Mario Tennis])
      • Zelda (Major console releases [not stuff like Spirit Tracks])
      • Final Fantasy (This has changed slightly since XIII & XIV, but it’s still very fanboy protected)
      • Halo
      • Call of Duty
      • Grand Theft Auto
      • Any Major Rockstar Game (not stuff like Table Tennis)
      • Any Major Bioware Game (DragonAge II is the first major ‘bomb’ from Bioware)
      • Half Life
      • Portal (& basically anything from Valve)
      • Any Blizzard Release

      Former series that used to be immune (years ago):
      • Street Fighter
      • Sonic
      • Virtually all Star Wars games
      & a bunch of others

      For major releases, it’s often better to look for reviews (and scores) on personal blogs and smaller indie sites that don’t benefit from advertising from the publishers. A great example of this is http://www.gamecritics.com.

  5. zpoc says:

    you can thank the education system’s grading scale for the fact that 7 is considered average. it’s been deeply ingrained in our heads simply by going to school and being graded on the A through F scale. which, i shouldn’t have to remind you, basically teaches us that anything under 60% (or close to that depending on school/teacher/etc) is a ‘failing’ grade. something in the 70% range is a ‘C’ or, you guessed it, ‘average’. i understand why this might be annoying to someone, but it’s hardly mystifying.

    • jimmy says:

      Yeah you hit the nail on the head. I’m not sure why the author believes so strongly that average should be a 5 other than the fact that it’s the mean of 0 and 10. But then using the school example again, it is extremely easy to clump a student who got a 10 and a student who got a 30 on a test in the same category. The average on most tests fits the bell curve around 70, same with video games. Still, I definitely appreciate the advantages of a tier-based rating system

      • Scott Carmichael says:

        Not an excuse. Just because people don’t understand that with a letter grade system an F/50% is essentially ‘0’ and a C/75% is essentially ‘5’ doesn’t mean “average is ‘7’.

        Here’s how a standard letter grade system translates into a 4-star system and a 10-point system.

        50-59% (F) = 0/4 = 1/10-2/10
        60-69% (D) = 1/4 = 3/10-4/10
        70-79% (C) = 2/4 = 5/10-6/10
        80-89% (B) = 3/4 = 7/10-8/10
        90-100% (A) = 4/4 = 9/10-10/10

        It’s really not that hard.

        (Plus, remember, there is no ‘0’ in a 1-10 system because if the range was 0-10, it would actually be an 11-point system). “5.5” is technically the “middle” of a 1-10 scale.

      • zpoc says:

        scott – here’s an alternative translation table:

        1/10 = 10% (F)
        2/10 = 20% (F)
        3/10 = 30% (F)
        4/10 = 40% (F)
        5/10 = 50% (F)
        6/10 = 60% (D)
        7/10 = 70% (C)
        8/10 = 80% (B)
        9/10 = 90% (A)
        10/10 = 100%

        as i explained, regardless of how you WANT things to be, this is how people intuitively interpret scores on a 10 point scale, and these numbers are instinctively going to be correlated to the letter grade system.

      • Scott Carmichael says:

        It’s now how I want things to be. A standard letter grade system directly translates to a 4.0 scale.

        That’s why 4.0 means “A”, 3.0 means “B” and a 2.0 is average “C”…a 1.0 is a “D” and anything beneath that is failing. Go to any school or university and see if this is the standard, official way grades are calculated.

        I didn’t make up the system. If people don’t understand how the standard A through F / 4.0 scale works, that’s their problem.

      • zpoc says:

        i’m not saying you’re wrong, dumbass, i’m just pointing out why things are the way they are. and clearly, it is indeed ‘your problem’ because, well, you’re the one that has a problem with it.

      • Matt says:

        How did you come up with your ‘translation’, Scott? Given your tone it must seem self-evidently correct to you, but to me it makes no sense. Just because all scores below a certain number translate to the same letter grade doesn’t mean they don’t exist. If you take a 10-question test and get 3 correct answers, your score is 30%. That’s not ‘essentially zero’, and it makes no sense to pretend that the range of possible scores begins at 5/10.

      • Scott Carmichael says:

        “How did you come up with your ‘translation’, Scott?”

        I didn’t come up with it. It’s not rocket science. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_grading_in_the_United_States

        BTW – Most teachers use a point system (let’s say you got 30 points out of 100 on a test – they would mark that as 30 points – not 0 – even though you technically failed). Only at the end of the class do they convert the points into a standard 0-100% score. From there, they get the actual letter grade.

    • Nooferdog says:

      That’s a good point. I’ve never really thought about it like that, but it makes you wonder if American education could have an impact on how American critics see scores. I’ve often been mad at my school system where a 70 is the top line for an F and you have to get in the upper 90s for your grades to be considered good, even though doing something 70% right is pretty good in the real world. That’s kinda similar to how reviews work these days.

  6. THe Good Looking Brother says:

    In general, scoring systems are helpful when the points within the written content are somewhat oblique i.e. It is sometimes difficult to decipher as to whether the reviewer is praising or criticising the product. However, I agree that criteria for reviewing systems need to be reviewed. Afterall, it is unhelpful when someone scores 7.5 because that doesn’t means anything. You either merit it a 7 or 8, not somewhere between. Again, another insightful article bruv.

    • Scott Carmichael says:

      The increments inbetween probably do mean something (you may have to refer to the site/publications review system for specific breakdowns) – For example, if I am determining the score I apply to “Graphics” in one of my reviews, I ask myself:

      Is it “Above Average – Polished in many ways but not totally unique or polished in every way. Needs work.”
      -or-
      Is it “Great – Very well done overall and will make fans of gameplay style happy. Has a couple fairly serious issues here and there.”

      The first is a “7” score. The second is an “8.”

      By asking the same questions for every game, I can come up with a pretty fair system of measuring game quality across the board. Keep in mind too when reviewing games and applying a score, you need to determine what the individual components (graphics, control, fun factor, etc.) are, INDEPENDENTLY, *BEFORE* you decide what the final score should be.

      Far too often people say, “I gave game X a 75%. I want this game to be an 80% because I liked it better than game X. So I’m going to give it an 80% and make my review justify that score, regardless of whether or not the game overall really is an 80%.”

      Basically, far too many reviewers do things ass-backwards. :/

  7. Tim says:

    in college, we need a 70 in our courses to pass in final year. First year we needed a 60.

  8. rawshark says:

    fantastic article good sir, i put on my hat specially to tip it to you.

  9. Scott Carmichael says:

    I went back and read your article about game review scores and I can definitely see why there were issues in deciding if BnB should have scores…and if so, what should that score consist of. I mean, you have people who hate the idea of scores, love the idea of scores and don’t really care either way but want to just make sure everyone uses the same system.

    However, I’m going to have to side with the people who say scores are important. Not only do scores provide a quick reference to the overall “feel” of a game, they also allow a reader to cross-reference that game with other games the reviewer/site has covered, in order to get a better sense of whether the author’s tastes match the reader’s. Also, perhaps most importantly…it makes the reviewer really think about what they’re saying.

    For instance, if you say a game deserves a ’10’…you better make sure your written review makes it clear WHY. At the same time, if you think a game’s graphics are terrible and warrant a ‘2’…you better explain why.

    I suspect the main reason why people hate the idea of scores is that they are terrified of getting criticism. In other words, by NOT attaching a score to a game, they effectively are able to weasel their way out of any critique by saying, “Well, I didn’t have time to mention such and such, but yes, that part was good.” However, if your words say one thing and the score supports that…there’s no way a reviewer can backtrack to please upset readers.

    All I know about review scores is that over the years, I have seen a ton of review systems. Everything from 4-star to 5-star to Ignore/Rent/Buy to 10-point to letter grade to 100-point and everything inbetween. Personally, I have used the same review system – a variation of the old Nintendo Power review system merged with the old EGM review system. Combining the two and weighing different categories generates a 100-point score.

    http://scottcgaming.wordpress.com/reviews/rating-system/

    I recognize not everyone will agree with my setup but I figure I’d rather be too specific than too vague – plus, the categories are weighed very fairly. For instance, my buddy uses a strange “positive” and “negative” system where at the end he ends up with stuff like +2 or -3. What does that even mean!?! Also, the “simpler” setups (4-star, 5-star and Ignore/Rent/Buy, etc.) are so non-specific all that’ll happen is every decent game will end up with a similar score, rendering the score useless. For instance, Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 2, Halo 3 and Mario Galaxy 2 may all get 4-stars from BnB…but does that mean they’re all equally good? If you could only buy one, which one is better than the others? See the problem in being too vague?

    Another thing to keep in mind is that very frequently reviewers read OTHER reviews and see the “type of score” a game gets BEFORE THEY PLAY A GAME/WRITE A REVIEW and that (even if only subconsciously) affects their rating/review. I would suggest NEVER looking at the scores already out there if you plan on reviewing a game because human nature tends to make people mimic other peoples’ opinions in order to “fit in.”

    But to touch on the whole Metacritic thing, yeah – the site has issues and it’s not something that should be the ONLY thing looked at (because of the flawed approach in merging a bunch of incompatible review systems). The *ONLY* way to make Metacritic accurate would be to force all sites/publications that want coverage on the site to submit a Metacritic-specific 1-10 rating for each game. In other words, if 1UP wants to have their reviews covered, THEY have to be the ones deciding, on a 10-point scale (not A-F letter grade scale), what the game should be rated. Then, if we look at Metacritic scores then, there’d be no question at all what the score really is. Metacritic needs to twist the reviewers’ arms to have them supply a standardized score, not convert the values themselves.

    BTW – I wrote an article on Metacritic’s affect on the industry way back in early 2009:

    http://scottcgaming.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/metacritic-the-next-industry-crutch/

    • Gregory Montblac Tyr says:

      Hi Scott

      I read your 2009 article about Metacritic hoping to find the same insight that I found in the above BnB article. Unfortunately for me, what I found instead was a a shoddily written piece of journalism that focused purely on bashing game review websites that “suck”.

      Perhaps what the gaming community needs is a well-rounded individual such as yourself who could offer us all a 1-10 score on the content of game review websites. This would enable all of us the chance to “get a feel” for the quality of the website without having to take the time to come to an opinion of our own.

      What you’re, in effect, arguing is that sites like metacritic are inherently bad because you feel that some people are more entitiled to have their points of view respected than others. A pretty childish view all-in-all.

      It’s rather disappointing that so many people have felt the need to bring this discussion down to an argument over the quality and bias of named review websites when the original article was written to draw attention to overbearing effect these reviews can have on the gaming market. I think your response has proven that some people will pay more attention to a score on a website than try and form their own opinions.

      Regards

      Greg

      • Scott Carmichael says:

        First off, while you criticize my writing ability, let me just say that I am by no means a professional writer – I never went to school for it, I don’t really care about AP-style and I don’t get compensated for what I write. If you argument is against my writing on a technical-basis, so what. The internet is full of grammar Nazis – I really don’t care what you think. You should be glad my writing isn’t full of l33t speak and actually has punctuation and capitalization. However, if you have a problem with the message I was getting across, then so be it. Everyone has a different opinion.

        That being said, if you want to criticize me and my writing, let me see your writings and opinions on things so I can fairly “judge” you as well. C’mon – show me what your thoughts are. Show me something you wrote over two years ago discussing the topic that is just now being discussed here. I’ve been been writing about games since the mid-90s (as a hobby) and have had my self-published game fanzines featured multiple times in mainstream publication like Tips & Tricks well over a decade ago, long before you even posted your first gaming blog post. So let’s compare notes on who knows more about what they’re talking about, okay? If you want to criticize, back up your bold statements – especially if you consider what I produce to be “shoddy.”

        – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

        Now, getting back to my Metacritic article specifically, my focus in that article was to point out that it’s not just about conflicting review systems but even about things like “reputation within the industry” and “longevity of doing reviews.” If you honestly believe a site that popped up 2-3 years ago holds the same amount of industry respect as a site that started a decade ago, you’ve got some problems. I’m not saying just because something is “old” it means it is automatically correct…but when I see the absolute glut of gamers who never even seriously touched a game controller before the 32-bit era, I can’t help but shake my head in disappointment a bit. There is something to be said about seeing a lot of games over the years and truly understanding who the industry behaves. Younger gamers (this includes gamers in their early/mid-20s) just don’t get this. They don’t.

        Is that elitist? Possibly (I’m sure you’ll see it that way). But is there a huge difference in gamers who can have even a few years of age separating them? Yes. Oh yes. I’m pretty sure if your tastes were compared to a 12 year old’s you’d differ a lot in what’s good/bad. So yeah – the whole “is site A better than site B” or is “publication C inferior to blog D” is completely relevant. Who would decide that? I have my opinion on the matter, sure, but I’m not the one running Metacritic. But at some point, that’s going to be part of the solution that “fixes” a site like Metacritic.

        I’ve also noticed younger gamers seem to have a very sad connection to G4 and XPlay in the same way that tweens love Justin Bieber and Britney Spears. All I can say is that yes, Greg, certain things in life do suck and as you get older and experience more, you’ll realize that (G4 was an awful channel in all respects – if you remember TechTV/ZDTV you’d know exactly what I’m talking about). In terms of gaming reviews, some sources really aren’t worth considering at all (sad but true). Or, even if they are worth mentioning, they aren’t worth lumping in with much better sources – all game sites are not created equal. No doubt you will disagree completely with this.

        – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

        Finally, are you even aware that I used to write for BnB? I was with the site from the day it started and was one of the founders. One of the main reasons why I left was because I didn’t feel like the other contributors wanted to take reviews seriously. Everyone wanted to just play stuff and mostly evade any real opinion about anything (which is fine, I was in the minority here on this topic as evidenced by recent “review system” coverage here). Or, when they did review stuff (the big name games especially) no one wanted to offer real criticism or rate appropriately (everything’s a ‘9’ or ’10’!… …no, no it’s not). Without a score that shows what a reviewer truly thinks (so that you can compare one game to another), a review is simply nothing more than a glorified summary of what’s on the back of the game box.

        At the very least, scores will definitely indicate whether a reviewer or a site is a fanboy of something or completely dumb.

        In other words, a review without a score is not a review at all. It’s just an indecisive, afraid-of-criticism person rambling on.

      • Armand K. says:

        Is that why you left the site Scott? Well I’m sorry we didn’t meet your high standards. I promise we’ll try harder in the future.

      • Scott Carmichael says:

        Armand – I’m not going to lie – it played a part in it. I liked the BnB crew – had no problem with anyone specifically…but it literally took months and months to even get a review system ironed out when that should have been established from day one (everything was a democracy when it shouldn’t have been). When I finally got the full impression of the direction BnB Gaming wanted to go, I respectfully bowed out (well, and normal life stuff got more hectic as well). And that’s cool if you guys want to handle reviews and scores a certain way – to each his own. I just didn’t feel like I wanted to be part of a collaborative site that wanted to look at review criteria and scores the way BnB does.

        Take no personal offense to it – but IMO, a review system that is so unconventional it doesn’t resemble what most other sites offer doesn’t do anyone any good. The point of scores is to compare them – if you can’t do that, there’s no real point in having them at all.

        Obviously if I didn’t want to hear what you guys say I wouldn’t keep visiting BnB – but I would be doing no favors to BnB by remaining on staff if I didn’t fully believe in it…so what’s so wrong about walking away vs. creating internal turmoil? (Plus, I wasn’t a big fan of the idea of trying to monetize the site/be like “the big guys” because the odds of that are slim to none, so why not just “write to have fun”?)

      • Martin Watts says:

        “Without a score that shows what a reviewer truly thinks (so that you can compare one game to another), a review is simply nothing more than a glorified summary of what’s on the back of the game box.”

        I’m sorry but that’s absolutely ridiculous. Comparing the written content within a review with that of another game review is a far more in depth way of comparing games than a simple number is. E.g., if you talk about a game’s multiplayer and discuss its features sufficiently, and do the same for another then the differences and similarities should be more than apparent. Even a closing paragraph would be just as good, if not better than a score. And yes, this depends on the written quality of the review, but even if you did have a score, your score would be meaningless and untrustworthy if the actual written piece is ass. Plus, it would only be a “glorified summary of what’s on the back of the game box” if you really like the game and saw no faults with it, because the last time I checked, marketing teams for videogames didn’t usually shit on their own products when writing the blurb.

        Back to the overall picture with regards to my piece, many people, including yourself, seem to give off the impression that my article is anti-score system. It’s not and there’s not a line in there that says “all sites shouldn’t use scores”. If you read it properly, you’ll find that one of my issue lies with the inconsistency that exists between websites/magazines/etc. One website’s version of a 10 could be entirely different from another’s (10 for one might mean revolutionary, 10 for another might simply mean it’s a very good game). A standardised review legend that each site and magazine goes by would be more effective in my view. In other words Scott, if everyone used your own strict scoring system (your variation of the Nintendo Power system or whatever), then it would ultimately be better because the numerical values would have the same meaning across the board (so long as reviewers scored their games against the criteria properly). The rest of the article is me talking about the effects that videogame reviews have on the industry, as Greg correctly points out.

        I’m trying my best to ignore the remark about us not taking reviews seriously, but it’s a little offensive. If we didn’t take them so seriously, we wouldn’t have spent so damn long discussing how to do them. You complain that we supposedly gave everything a 9 and 10 (funny that, because CoD: Black Ops got a 6 from me under the old system), yet you also expect us to use a scoring system like other sites do, which are even worse for overrating games. My argument about score numbers is exactly the same as yours (it’s mentioned in the article above). And if our scores were particularly strict, as you would like them to be, so that when a game gets a 9 from everywhere else, we give it 7, then all the comparisons of scores does is make us look like we’re either extremely harsh or bad reviewers. At least with our somewhat unconventional system (although our review labels are essentially “A” and “B” grades), we can’t be criticised for not overrating a game like IGN or Gamespot probably would (in your and my opinion at least).

      • Scott Carmichael says:

        I think everyone is forgetting what I said from the very first reply I posted in this chain of back and forth comments:

        “The *ONLY* way to make Metacritic accurate would be to force all sites/publications that want coverage on the site to submit a Metacritic-specific 1-10 rating for each game. In other words, if 1UP wants to have their reviews covered, THEY have to be the ones deciding, on a 10-point scale (not A-F letter grade scale), what the game should be rated. Then, if we look at Metacritic scores then, there’d be no question at all what the score really is. Metacritic needs to twist the reviewers’ arms to have them supply a standardized score, not convert the values themselves.”

        What I’m saying is that the biggest problem with Metacritic is that the rating systems are incompatible. So, because so much Metacritic traffic is generated to the various sites (and this is good for those sites), sites that wish to participate should be forced to adopt some sort of standard 1-10 format. 1-10 seems to be the main system everyone graviates towards at some point or another – heck even Rolling Stone uses a 5-star system w/ half stars, basically making it a 10-point scale – they’ve been using it for decades.

        I guess I’m not understanding why this is such a struggle.

        Why is it so hard to assign a score based on 1-10? You just come up with your own criteria of what a “1” game is like, what a “5” game is like and a “10” game is like and then work backwards while you fill in what goes inbetween. If you make “5” truly average, it won’t be long before many games start getting 5s…because MOST games ARE average. It’s not you being “too harsh”…it’s just how it is. However, if you make “7” average to “fit in with other sites” and not appear “too harsh” then it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever use the 6 values under it and on the flipside use the 3 values above it way too often. This, of course, will lead to an overabundance of 8s, 9s & 10s.

        I didn’t say EVERYTHING from BnB got a 9 and 10…but I’m certain I will NEVER see a Mario or Zelda review on many sites (not just BnB) that is an 8 or below…even if it deserves it. (This sorta applies to all first-party Nintendo games in general, not just Mario/Zelda) Do you remember the hell GameSpot got in ’06 when it gave Twilight Princess a “lowly” 87? As I said in a response higher up to “Tim,” there are so many sacred cows in gaming right now it isn’t even funny. And yes, I remember you giving Black Ops a 6…and that was a very fair score because that’s what it was – an average game with some polish here and there. However, Black Ops in general – like FFXIII – was the turning point for many gamers and critics to officially start throwing more rocks at the series. Most series have a tipping point at which the critics finally feel “safe enough” to start complaining about the stuff they disliked for years w/o fear of fanboy backlash. Usually, they play “catch up” and overcompensate on a version on ore two iterations after when the problems first appeared in order to make up for missed chances in the past to hate on something. In a year or two, Call of Duty will join the “once immune to criticism” list with Street Fighter, Sonic, etc.

        BTW – just because I am a nerd and like to prove my point, I’ve went through all the BnB reviews and divided them into two groups (using only games with actual ratings of some kind): One group is any game that got a “7” or lower…and the other is a group containing games that got above a “7”

        Greater than 7:
        Pokemon Black & White: Mark of Excellence
        Dead Space 2: Mark of Excellence
        Dragon Age II: Recommended
        Killzone 3: Highly Recommended
        Bulletstorm: 9/10
        Mass Effect 2: 10/10
        Lara Croft: GoL: 9/10
        Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: 8/10
        Texting of the Bread: 8/10
        Donkey Kong Country Returns: 8/10
        Alex the Alligator: 8/10
        Chime: 9/10
        Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood: 9/10
        Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit: 9/10
        Gran Turismo 5: 9/10
        Undergarden: 8/10
        Sonic Colors: 9/10
        GoldenEye 007: 9/10
        Bloody Good Time: 7.5/10
        Chick Chick Boom: 9/10
        Fallout: New Vegas: 9/10
        Medal of Honor: $50/$60
        Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble: 9/10
        Sonic 4-Ep 1: 8/10
        Tiny Wings: Recommended
        Monster Ate My Homework: Recommended
        Street Fighter IV 3DS: Recommended
        Shogun II: Mark of Excellence
        Pilotwings Resort: Recommended
        Din’s Curse: Recommended
        Portal 2: Mark of Excellence

        ===============================================================

        Less than/Equal to 7:
        X-Men: 7/10
        Penny Arcade: 6/10
        Jewel Link: 7/10
        Epic Mickey: 7/10
        Neverball: 7/10
        Splatterhouse: 3/10
        Kinect Adventures: 6/10
        Kinect: 3/10
        Haunted House: 7/10
        CoD: Black Ops: 6/10
        Resident Evil 5: 6/10
        Fable III: 5/10
        Civilization V: 6/10*
        Hidden Mysteries Titanic: 7/10
        Castlevania: LoS: 5/10*
        Halo Reach: $30/$60
        Grotesque Tactics: 6/10
        *-I did these two.

        ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

        As you can see, only 17 games out of 48 earned a “7” or lower. A “7” is supposed to be average. That means that only ~35% of the time BnB gave out “average” or lower scores (if we are to assume “7” is “average quality”). If we are to assume “5” is average, BnB only gave out “average or lower” scores a puny 10% of the time.

        Meanwhile, let’s take a look at games that scored above “7,” but below “9” (and let’s assume “Recommended” means “Above Average” which would mean ABOVE a “7”). BnB gave those types of scores out ~31% of the time. And how many games got “9” or higher (Mark of Excellence falls in this range, wouldn’t you say?)? How about a whopping ~33% of the time.

        And of all the games in the “under 7” category, only a small handful (Epic Mickey, Black Ops, Fable III, Civ V, Castlevania and Halo Reach) are AAA titles. In the “above 7” category, there are 16 AAA games (Portal 2, Shogun 2, MoH, Fallout:NV, GoldenEye, Gran Turismo 5, Need for Speed, AC Brotherbood, DKC Returns, Mass Effect 2, Bulletstorm, Killzone 3, Dragon Age 2, Dead Space 2 and Pokemon Black/White, Sonic Colors). This means that 72% of the time, you give an “above average score” to a AAA release. And to get more specific, you gave 13 AAA games a ‘9’ or higher…which means there is a 59% chance a AAA release will be given a ‘9’ or higher by BnB.

        In other words, BnB hands out “9”s and higher nearly as often as it hands out all the values of 1 between 7 and rarely gives an “average” rating to a AAA release. ಠ_ಠ

        / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

        However, I will agree on this one point Sebastian says (that I didn’t bring up) – because BnB writers buy the games they play, they typically won’t buy outright awful games – so there may be a natural tendency to cover “better” games compared to what big name pubs and sites have to deal with (as they get all sorts of crap and shovelware). That said, I believe that makes the risk of having “fanboy bias” playing a role in game reviews a potential issue.

        And even so, that doesn’t explain why 2/3 of the games covered, on average, get an “8” or higher on BnB. Even the most hyped up, anticipated games often have flaws, glitches and things that disappoint and are not always worthy of an above average score…they just aren’t…unless, of course, the inner fanboy takes over.

  10. Sebastian Force says:

    I personally agree with you wholeheartedly on the score system Scott. No, everything’s not a 9 and a 10, and nor should it be. But I’ve voiced my opinion before on it already, and I do believe that every game needs, and deserves a score. I personally remember giving kinect like a 3 or a 4, cause that’s what it deserved.

    However, the first thing is, Everything for BnB should be as democratic as possible. Why? Because I’ve never felt like I was being treated like an underling or decisions were flying over my head. I felt like an equal part in this, like even though i’m one of a bunch of people, we each have our say. I’ll be the first one to admit I was pissed when we went scoreless, but even though I disagree, worse things have happened. I still feel like this place gives me an opportunity to review and state my opinion, what I love doing. Also, a lot of things are 9 and 10 for us because we don’t have enough money to buy things that we know aren’t going to be good. I spent an extra $100 on Kinect and I regret it immensely, but I still reviewed it. So while you may see all 9’s and 10’s it’s the only thing we can do when we don’t have a budget or review copies. It’s funny, the free games only come when you’ve earned the prestige, and you can’t get the prestige without the free games.

    The fact that we’re still talking about scores now means that a lot of people have strong opinions about it. With each of us coming from somewhere else, we’d all have our own opinions on it, so it has to be democracy. Even if i’m in the minority on scores, I still like this place enough to write for it. I can’t let a disagreement like that stop me from writing for this site. I couldn’t write with people I didn’t trust, and I don’t have to worry about that here.

    • Scott Carmichael says:

      Sebastian, I’ve sorta replied to this in a number of places, so take no offense if i don’t write much here. But it is nice to know I’m not alone in thinking scores aren’t the devil’s work or something. 😛

  11. Gregory Montblanc Tyr says:

    First off, my apologies – I feel that my original comment was written to address the fact that we managed to throw ourselves completely off topic from Martin’s original article, but instead I think I only added fuel to the fire. Unfortunately I’m probably about to do it again.

    Sebastian, I think you have managed to summarise what I was trying to say far better than I could. I guess we can’t all be accomplished writers like Scott here.

    Sites like BnB stand for a democratic process that supports freedom of expression. What irritates me so much about your responses is that you seem to support the opposite. Every man is entitled to his opinion about games and game-review websites, and how you choose to make your decisions about the scores you give, and the products you buy is ultimately up to you and no-one else.

    Scott, what scares me so much is that you’ve made comments about how all game sites should follow a specific trend and that we should always regard some people’s opinions above others. You strike me as a very jaded individual and worse, utterly bigoted.

    I’ll admit that I am an easy target as I don’t have a wealth of previous writing to back myself up with as you have so kindly pointed out. But I feel that the way we receive new games is just as much in the hands of the average consumer as it is of an experienced critic. In the same way that you have discarded the opinions of “lesser” reviewers you seem content to discard my own views as I am clearly not on your level of intellectual comment.

    Never-the-less, you have asked for my opinion and I will be glad to oblige:

    I agree with Martin that the scoring system used by popular gaming websites is, at best, flawed and at worse, corruptible. However, we all have a right to free speech and every website should be able to choose its own method of reviewing games and should be free of being penalised for deviating from “the norm”. We cannot force writers to write in a specific fashion, nor can we stop major gaming websites from scoring games, the notion of doing so is ludicrous. If we truly believed that scoring games is wrong, then the only action we can take is to be brave enough to decide not to use such a method ourselves in the hope that the average consumer will realise the flaws in generalised scoring. Ultimately every individual should be given the same amount of creative respect for his own opinion.

    You’ve very maturely referred to me as a “Nazi” – perhaps I ought to remind you that it is the Nazis who burned the books of writers that their movement disagreed with. Does this ring any bells with your behaviour Scott?

    Best

    Greg

    • Scott Carmichael says:

      Jaded? Bigoted? Oh, so when you can’t come up with a legitimate complaint you just start name calling. Nice.

      “Nazi”? I said “Grammar Nazi.” That’s an extremely common term. Here, check it out: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Grammar%20Nazi But hey, if you want to interpret that as Nazi, whatever.

      Greg, it is YOU who has a problem with reviews.

      For some strange, oddball reason, you believe that people read reviews…just for the hell of it. You know, to just fill up their day or take their mind off solving the world’s issues. Reviews exist to address a very specific problem: Summarize an experience without forcing a person to experience it themselves.

      So while the writers of the world want to remain intentionally vague so that a reader is forced to read through their entire article to “understand their point,” the vast majority of readers out there want something super fast and simple to see what a game is like: You know, like a RATING.

      A rating — so that if they decide they want to use a site like Metacritic to see if a certain game is what they like, they can quickly and easily determine how popular it is among a huge group of people. Metacritic can’t convert a 1,000 word review into 10-point score. At least, it can’t do it very well. (I should also point out users typically will not go and research the inner workings of an non-standard review system via a “Legend/Key/Breakdown” page, no matter how “clever” a site thinks it is)

      If anything, your anti-review score mentality tells me that you really don’t want to help the readers — you simply want to cover your butt…because if you say Game X deserves a ‘9’…and it’s a turd, someone might call you out on it. At that point, you either have to adequately defend your reasoning or admit perhaps you made a mistake.

      So when I see people who don’t want to assign something as simple as a 1-10 score, I see people who don’t want to ever open themselves up to the possibility of being wrong.

      So what do people do? They turn into 8, 9 and 10 people who go crazy with lavishing too much praise on everything, “just to be safe.”

      You can leave this conversation with any opinion on game scores that you wish to have…but to endorse all sorts of crazy review systems or use nothing at all because you want to “fight the system” you think is so flawed, you’re not doing anyone any favors.

      Critics are supposed to critique things, not find every possible way to apply praise or avoid saying anything potentially controversial. If, at the end of the day, you don’t help the readers than writing a review is worthless.

      • Gregory Montblanc Tyr says:

        Name calling?

        I hardly think so Scott. You’ve managed to quote me an Urban Dictionary reference… I don’t really think that a website where anyone can coin their own terms suddenly makes it official language.

        Here’s an actual dictionary reference, Collins English infact:

        big·ot
           –noun
        a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

        I’m not calling you names Scott, I’m calling you exactly what you are – a person who cannot accept someone elses views.

        If you actually read what I wrote, you’d see that at no point was I arguing against the use of scoring games. I was pointing out that it was a flawed system but ultimately we have to respect that if game scores are what the community and the reviews want then we have no right to demand them to do otherwise. But with respect, we reserve the right to do something different if we wish, free from creative prejudices.

        Maybe you’re right, and sites like BnB aren’t “doing anyone any favours”, but does that mean it’s wrong, or less valid? To claim that it is, I’m afraid, is bigoted.

        You’ve also claimed that is the responsiblity of reviewers to help the consumer. I agree with this statement, but surely it is their responsilbity to be fair and un-biased? I am sure that what people really want to know as a bottom line is whether or not the game is worth investing their hard-earned cash in. I don’t really see how helpful a score from 1-10 can be. Sure, it gives you an indication of the perceived quality, but it doesn’t tell you whether the game is worth the investment.

        If you want quick and easy reviewing, there are alternatives to a 1-10 score. Perhaps a simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to the purchasing of the product would be just as effective. I’m not saying that the alternatives are better, but to write them off as bad without a thought is just very poor indeed.

        Greg

  12. Joe Walker says:

    Scott,

    You seem to have a beef with Nintendo, so I’ll address that since I’m the Nintendo guy around here.

    The reason Nintendo games typically get high scores are because they are just plain good games. It’s very obvious Nintendo isn’t your thing, which is fine. However, saying games like Super Mario Galaxy and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess are BAD GAMES just isn’t true. They’re not as good as some of their predecessors, but they are still some of the very best games in their respective genres.

    I’ll address the Pokémon Black and White review, since I wrote that one. The reason I gave it the “Mark of Excellence” (we had just introduced that label when I wrote the review) is because it is BY FAR the best of the main Pokémon series. It reshaped a lot of what was becoming stale in the franchise and added a deeper storyline, more expressive characters, great new monster designs and further refined a lot of the hidden mechanics that casual players don’t even notice. Giving it the “Mark of Excellence” doesn’t mean it was perfect (because few games truly are), it meant that the game was excellent. If you like Pokémon, Black and White are excellent games. Heck, I’ve talked to several people who either haven’t played since Red and Blue (or never played a Pokémon game at all!) who thought it was great. A mark of excellent isn’t a 10/10. It’s our way of saying “This game is fantastic at what it tries to do.”

    Pokémon is not for everyone, but looking at it FOR WHAT IT IS (a Pokémon game) it is, without a doubt, an excellent game.

    For SSF43D and Pilotwings, I recommended both of those games because they’re very fun, engaging games that do a fantastic job showing off what the 3DS is capable of. They have their issues, but if someone were to say “what 3DS games should I buy?” those are the two I’d recommend. So I gave them the “recommended” rating. It doesn’t have a numerical value attached to it, it just means “I think you should buy this game.”

    The reason I write about games is because I’m a fan of video games. I’ve been a fan of Nintendo for years because I find their games to be developed with fun in mind first and foremost. Nintendo may not be your thing, but they consistenly get high review scores because THEY’RE GOOD GAMES, not because of any kind of “immunity” to bad scores.

    • Scott Carmichael says:

      See, that’s a problem.

      If I don’t like many of the newer games Nintendo produces, it’s not that I don’t just dislike “bad/mediocre/slightly above average games”….it’s that I hate NINTENDO games.

      I personally do think Nintendo over the past decade has – more often than not – become rather lazy in its approach to game development.

      That doesn’t mean every game they produce is awful…or even bad…but it certainly does mean that the vast majority of newer Nintendo games I’ve played over the past decade or so haven’t knocked my socks off either. You know, if ‘5’ was average and ’10’ was revolutionary…they’d be 6s, 7s and 8s most of time.

      But to a die-hard Nintendo fan, that’s blasphemy.

      How dare someone not think Mario Galaxy 2 is a perfect game!

      How dare someone say Mario Kart Wii is just a re-hash of previous Mario Kart games!

      How dare someone comment that Twilight Princess is Zelda ’98, yet again!

      So really Joe, my problem isn’t so much with Nintendo itself, but rather the games they keep producing.

      I’m glad you like Pokémon and other Nintendo games – that’s cool. That’s what you’re into. But personally, I’ve done the Nintendo thing so long I have become a bit jaded by and tired of their constant sequels and rehashes – as would any gamer with any series. And I suspect I am not the only one who feels that Nintendo games aren’t really groundbreaking or killer-app titles. They can be very good…but every year the bar keeps getting raised higher and higher from games that come from all sorts of companies on all sorts of platforms…

      …and every year Nintendo seems to be perfectly content doing the Apple approach of “incremental upgrades” to game series so old, they need walkers to get around.

      I didn’t want this to turn into a company-specific discussion, so do not take my opinion as anything personal….Nintendo games just don’t do it for me anymore. I don’t go out of my way to play them and I think that’s fair because I would admit that at this point, I do probably hold a slight negative bias towards Nintendo titles, only because I know they can be better if Nintendo truly wanted them to be. To a reader though, unless I entered into any review with an unbiased mind, I wouldn’t be doing them any favors. I guess I feel like for any reviewer – if they are clearly a fanboy or hater, they need to make that very clear with each an every review. Otherwise, you or I may mislead people when they aren’t really the audience we’re trying to speak to.

      Does this make any sense?

      If not, sorry, it’s late (been up all night) and I’ve been replying to BnB posts instead of coding for work and my mind is turning into jelly… 😛

      • Joe Walker says:

        No worries! I certainly don’t take anything personal by it, and believe me… you’re not the only one I see on the internet tired of Nintendo! I don’t claim to champion them as THE BEST EVAR, I just try to explain where I come from since I’m in the minority. 🙂

        Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 weren’t perfect (and in my opinion, they weren’t as good as Super Mario 64, my personal favorite game) but they were still extremely high quality 3D platformers that added some fun things to the mix. Perfect? Absolutely not (if you ask me, some of the “Mario charm” was even missing), but still great, fun games.

        Twilight Princess is another story. It didn’t change much aside from setting. If you liked Ocarina, you’d enjoy Twilight Princess. The setting didn’t do much for me, honestly. I had fun with it, but it wasn’t like “THIS IS SO AWESOME” (except when you got to sumo wrestle Gorons… that was rad). I fear Zelda has become stale and I’m hoping Skyward Sword corrects that… it certainly looks nice enough!

        I DO think Nintendo gets unfairly criticized for “rehashing” yet people are thrilled at new entries in the Call of Duty or Madden lines. Their games aren’t yearly sequels, so it’s not like “BUY THIS EVERY YEAR,” and Mario is a plaforming series… I don’t get why people would be mad that the next Mario game has more platforming.

        I play games to have fun… I like cartoony games and I like realistic games. As long as the game is fun, I’ll enjoy it. Even if the game isn’t always GREAT, I’ll still find a way to get some enjoyment out of it. I’m not a negative person, honestly, so if there’s problems with a game I’ll point them out, but I’ll also say “but hey, this part was kinda cool.”

        But yeah. I’m not saying you’re wrong. I just like giving the opposite side of the coin so people see where us crazy Nintendo fans are coming from. 🙂

  13. The Squid says:

    Good article, but I can see one fault with it: “7 = average” is what everyone learns growing up because that’s how the school systems work, at least in North America. C+ to B- (or about 65% to 75%) are average and below 50% is a fail. Seems to me that the same system is being applied to games.

  14. Gregg B says:

    Fantastic piece Martin, insightful and balanced. I’d be more than happy to see percentages abolished across the board in favour of something more realistic and manageable like a 1-10, A-F or 1-5 system (like we use at Tap). Percentages are horrendous because they’re just way too granular and Famitsu’s 1-40 is still pushing it for me.

    I admire the fact that BnB have dropped numerical scoring altogether, but I can still see the worth in a gauge of sorts providing it is used properly. I’ve not reviewed a great many games at Tap but of the four I have, three received fives despite their flaws because I believed that they were some of the best games in their field. For a while I was concerned that my perception of the rating system was skewed but after reviewing Grim Fandango and awarding it 3/5 I realised that, actually, my scoring was logical when coupled with the review text itself.

    Anyway, thanks for this, a great read!

  15. Jambe says:

    Good points. It’s interesting to me that none of the review sites I read regularly anymore use scores at all. They’re just really not useful to me.

  16. Decider says:

    I dislike the grade system, and my solution is that I don’t grade games, I explain them. While it may take a little longer to read, I feel it’s the only fair way to review (even though I know that I’m fighting the current in today’s instant gratification and TLDR-society).

    For those of you that absolutely crave a grading system, I recommend finding a site that grade games like you would have, and stick to that site.

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