Review scores are dead

I’ve read a massive amount of reviews in my time.  So many gaming sites provide such in-depth reviews and quality content that I’ve truly been able to decide on a purchase based on a balanced view of what all these people are telling me.

However, I’m certainly guilty of checking review scores and writing-off some potential gems, because it’s quick and easy to do.  Is that fair though?  I feel like scores are actually screwing people over.

We live in a world now, whereby developers can have bonuses written into their contracts, that are released based on metacritic rankings.  Get and 8 or 9 overall, have some money! Get less…….tough luck, you’re a failure.

What’s going on?

Video game reviews and rankings are a big deal, a driver in the success (perhaps only perceived success?) and a benchmark for developers and publishers to aspire to.

However, chasing a number isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Now it’s become such an important factor in the success of a game, can we even rely on the numbers anymore?

We know that people can be paid to rate a game well, we also know that some people are happy to spend hours of their life picking a game apart, purely because they can.  If all of these people become trusted, and their scores of things are taken into account, when places like metacritic pull them all together, things are getting pretty skewed!

Are these numerical values actually becoming less valuable to the consumer?  Do you trust all of these scores? What makes a gaming site reputable?

How are we supposed to form an opinion now?

By their very nature, reviews are the opinion of someone, and people don’t necessarily like all other people, so we can quite quickly become selective of the people we want to trust/listen to.  Which is fine…….I think?  We want to hear form people we trust, or at least like.

Basing an opinion on the opinion of someone else is actually pretty silly if you think about it.  Particularly if you’re hanging off every word one or two people have to say.  You’re doing yourself a disservice, and you’re doing your favorite form of entertainment a disservice.

Watching someone go out of their way to hype-up or excessively trash something being released soon.  It doesn’t seem like the best way to gain an understanding of a product’s flaws or strengths.  We have so much content being created that take things to extremes (gotta get those likes and subs somehow!), are we forgetting about the professional gaming journalists?

The slow death of printed media may play a part in this.  We used to be spoiled for choice when it came to gaming magazines, but how many people still buy those?  News and information released once per month. Why would you want that when you can have up-to date information the moment it gets released, all over the internet?

With this comes the requirement to constantly provide information, so opinion pieces and fluff-pieces are released so frequently, that even those that are deemed professional gaming journalists are churning out nonsense, just to keep those page visits going.

Is this reducing the impact some of the writers can have when it comes to proper journalism?  Are we so expectant of new information immediately that we no longer really care about the real facts?

All over YouTube now, you can see 20 minute videos going over the latest patch notes, or a review of a 2 minute trailer.  So much speculation, and frankly, bullshit, is added to these to pad out the time, it’s absolutely ridiculous.  Can we not watch a trailer and form an opinion ourselves?

Perhaps talk about it on a subreddit and dig deeper together, sure.  I just don’t see why we would spend our valuable time watching a video of the same few cutscenes being played over and over, with some poor narration, being stated mostly as fact.  It’s weird, and it’s wrong.

Real journalists are forced to compete with some random dude with a hefty following, because they make funny videos.  Entertainment is taking precedent over thoughtful critique and real time spent testing and trying everything a game has to offer.

Forming an opinion and navigating the nonsense

In the age of video content being created by just about everyone, are we losing sight of the professional opinion and using the metacritic score and a quick trashing of something by your favourite YouTuber as a means to form an opinion?

These days everyone has a voice and multiple platforms from which to speak.  Real journalists are forced to compete with some random dude with a hefty following, because they make funny videos.

How do you go about understanding how good something actually is?  People sell their souls for a crack at the latest release, so they will happily become a mouthpiece for the publisher.  On the reverse of that, people will be happy to be negative towards anything released by a certain publisher, for any petty reason they desire.

I don’t go to the sites I used to visit daily, for reviews and info, because they’ve become so transfixed on being a jack-of-all-trades, covering every area of electronic information as possible, competing with YouTubers to show the same information in a different way.  It’s all become entertainment, and personalities, and often times, pretty girls to deliver some sarcastic comments…… edgy.

A huge amount of games get a following, regardless of their ratings.  Some seriously dedicated fans that create fan fiction, fan art, cosplay outfits, everything.  They root through the source files for details on potential new DLC when an update is released, they share it with passion, and encourage others to do the same.  These are the people I trust now, people who aren’t even offering their opinion for the price of watching an ad on their latest video.  People who have spent months of their lives pouring through all the details, explaining the lore to others, and trying every which way to tackle a certain quest or mission.

Sure, these people are perhaps biased towards their chosen game, but they show you all the reasons to love it, without forcing their opinion onto you.  You’re not being whined at because it only deserves a 4/10 not that 7/10 someone gave it, or vice-versa.  You have to find them, and read what they’re saying to their like-minded peers.

Research is key, not entertainment.  Gone are the days where you could trust a certain site, or magazine.

Scores are too risky to believe, and pointless, because we all love different things for different reasons.  State your genuine opinion, sure, but assigning an arbitrary score is quickly becoming redundant to those of us that used to trust them.  The numbers are for those profiting from games, the facts and details are where the consumer should be looking now.

Scores are dead.


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