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Metacritic Matters- How Review Scores Hurt Video Games

by Couchpotato, 2013-04-14 15:09:53

Kotaku brings an article about Metacritic and how they affect video games.

Bugs in Fallout: New Vegas might have eaten your save file. Maybe they took away a few hours of progress, or forced you to reset a couple of quests. Maybe game-crashing bugs pissed you off to the point where you wished you could get your $60 back. But they probably didn’t cost you a million dollars.

Perhaps you've heard the story: publisher Bethesda was due to give developer Obsidian a bonus if their post-apocalyptic RPG averaged an 85 on Metacritic, the review aggregation site. It got an 84 on PC and Xbox 360, and an 82 on PS3.

“If only it was a stable product and didn't ship with so many bugs, I would've given New Vegas a higher score,” wrote a reviewer for the website 1up, which gave New Vegas a B, or 75 on Metacritic's scale.

“It's disappointing to see such an otherwise brilliant and polished game suffer from years-old bugs, and unfortunately our review score for the game has to reflect that,” said The Escapist's review, which gave the game an 80.

If New Vegas had hit an 85, Obsidian would have gotten their bonus. And according to one person familiar with the situation who asked not to be named while speaking to Kotaku, that bonus was worth $1 million. For a team of 70 or so, that averages out to around $14,000 a person. Enough for a cheap car. Maybe a few mortgage payments.

Those sure were some costly bugs.

Another problem for developers: outlier scores. What happens when tons of people like a game, but for one or two reviewers, it just doesn’t click?

“The problem is the scale,” said Obsidian’s Urquhart. “There's an expectation that a good game is between 80 and 90. If a good game is between 80 and 90, and let's say an average game is gonna maybe get 50 scores, if you wanna hit that 85 and someone gives you a 35, that just took ten 90s down to 85... Just math-wise, how do you deal with that? Some guy who wants to make a name for himself can absolutely screw the numbers.”

There's plenty of more information in the article. Now do you Agree or Disagree?

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