Metacritic Matters: How Review Scores Hurt Video Games

Discussion in 'NMA News and Information' started by Brother None, Apr 14, 2013.

  1. 4too

    4too Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 30, 2003
    The Grander Grandeur Game

    The Grander Grandeur Game

    :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

    :manic megalomania:

    With Meta Critic we can meta game the game business,

    the entertainment industry,

    the cash flow of economies,

    the fount of POW-ah of this planet!

    Mu-ha-ha-ha (mustache groom with twirl)

    :/manic megalomania:

    Marketing may not be !magic! and it is about

    slight of hand: offering options and limiting choices,

    sheep herding agreement,

    controlling behavior.

    When the fruit hangs low, theatrically, cheer lead traffic in the way it would go, regardless. Self proclaim the faculty of prediction!

    Proclaim sun rises, eclipses, pet rocks, cheese flavored dog food. Behold the power of illusion!

    Probable magic, by any other name it's show business! ;)

  2. warsaw

    warsaw Still Mildly Glowing

    Dec 1, 2008
    Because that's a goofy ass thing to say. However, arguing that there's no difference in sales between whether or not a game is marketed is pretty disingenuous. Take Dead Island. Nobody heard of that game until after the trailer popped up, and then it was all anybody was talking about.

    Do I think Obsidian needs to run marketing campaigns? No, given the choice of putting money towards marketing, or putting money towards making the game itself better, I'd always choose the latter, because I've already heard of "Title X" and I don't work for Obsidian.
  3. woo1108

    woo1108 Vault Senior Citizen

    Sep 27, 2012
  4. dukem

    dukem First time out of the vault

    Jun 23, 2003
    yeah well I dunno.
    it might be that these games are the big sellers or appeal to a large audience. its just that they aren't for me. that's the big problem here.

    I don't care whether 1 million or 1 billion buy wasteland2 or not. the only thing I care about is if I like the game.

    the niche of old crpg players is just not on the main menu anymore.
    In my personal score Fo:NV is a lot higher than Fo3 and I think I'm not alone here.
  5. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    We are talking about AAA titles here, not niche games which obviously work a bit different. Considering the high competition you have there is a high focus on marketing, handing over an pre-release version to magazines so they can test them, inviting gaming journalists to test the games, creating a hype around the game, viral marketing and so on.

    If it would not be so effective game companies would not do it.

    And a very good marketing campaign will help to sell mediocre content. See Diablo 3.

    I mean you just have to know how to sell it and people will buy even a turd in a jar from you.
  6. gumbarrel

    gumbarrel It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Oct 18, 2010
    Re: The Grander Grandeur Game

    I love drugs too.

    There is a difference, yes, but some people make it out to be the ultimate end-all of game sales sometimes, wich is just as ridiculous.

    Do the laws of marketing change when you apply them to indie games?

    All versions of things that indies do as well.

    Then Metacritic scores must be effective, otherwise gaming companies would not use them :roll:

    Also, what does "so effective" mean, exactly?

    At most, marketing affects the margins. And the margins are very important, since they can mean the difference between braking even, or ending in a loss. But it is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that, say, CoD sold 100000000000 copies, simply because of marketing.

    Yeah, it's not like Diablo 2 was the bloody bomb, right? Also, if YOU don't like, then it must be shitty and anyone buying the game must be doing it thanks to the magical powers of marketing :roll:

    Marketers must be spaming those Illusion spells at the Gateway Inn.
  7. mobucks

    mobucks President of racism. Orderite

    May 22, 2010
    Bigwig executive game company string pullers need to know how their games are doing in as short a time as possible so they can get back to working on their golf swing. Thus Metacritic.
  8. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    Re: The Grander Grandeur Game

    maybe you could stop to put words in my mouth. Did I ever said Diablo 3 is shit with my post? I said mediocre, which it is. I never said cant be "fun". And to believe Diablo 3 would not have sold 10 milion units without an solid marketing campaign is somewhat absurd. The popularity of Diablo 2 DEFINITELY played its role, but it was simply part of the marketing as well.

    You could as well look at Fallout 3. Or Oblivion. If they showed actually what the game really was, mediocre content, bad writing, I am not sure if people would have bought it like they did. I am not studing marketing, but I know the one or other thing about it since we need it in our school for Graphic Design as it is somewhat releated. It has a reason why big companies (not just gaming companies) spend a lot of resources in marketing, which is as well but not only advertising, where they spend time to see what their target audience wants, what kind of ads work here and so on. Companies like Bethesda know very well what they do here as far as that goes. My guess is they either have very good professionals in house, or they hire some company to do it for them who is specialiced in that field, which is not uncommon. There are quite good ones out there.
  9. Daemon Spawn

    Daemon Spawn Old Warrior of the Wastes

    May 15, 2003
    Re: The Grander Grandeur Game

    Show business selling show business.

    metacritiquing/standardization of the show. Leveraging the standardization for profit. Broadening appeal to meet the correct metacriteria.

    Meta appeal > Uniqueness
  10. grayx

    grayx It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Mar 3, 2008
    Don't forget, Metacritic is a result not a cause. It follows the same pattern as lamestream media: combination of money or incentives for a game-review newspaper/site/company, bought (in one way or another) "game journalists" and money invested in regular commercials (be that tv or all other more conventional ones).

    Investing into PR and all other types of hype, doesn't have to be perfect; it's enough to tip the scale in the right direction in the right time. Avalanche effect will do the rest. "Flies know the best" and similar mindless, but very real effects. Of course, mob (or customers, whichever term you like) should be kept at mild temperature at all times for a maximum effect. PR lesson 101.

    My hypothesis about why NV didn't achieve 85 or above at metacritic: there is a direct correlation between money invested by publisher's PR, in this case Beth's, and metacritic. They weren't motivated enough to invest as heavily as it has been done (I guess) in Beth's rich but brain-dead newborn F3. And just that alone (but not only) was enough to dumper scores below the magic one. Not to mention "conspiracy theory" version: they had 1 million reasons to allow "some" game site to give NV very bad score (lowering Meta score below 85), and Beth is 1 mil. richer. Disclaimer: Just my opinion - no proof.
  11. UncannyGarlic

    UncannyGarlic Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Feb 6, 2008
    I'd say that marketing budget did play a role (the hype of Fallout 3 was no longer fresh) but I think that we too easily dismiss the idea that reviewers got tired of playing the same underlying game (mechanically) twice in a row. They had already had their fill of Fallout 3 when New Vegas came around so a lot of the things that they may not have noticed or that may not have bothered them much the first time around became more apparent the second time. There are bugs and flaws common to both games and it is good to point them out.
  12. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    that makes them very bad reviewers then. If youre tired from a game, thats not a problem with the game, since yeah, Vegas was supposed to build on F3, making it now completely different or expecting something completely different here would be asinie in my opinion. I mean you dont give an action movie that is showing you awesome action a bad rating because youre tired of action movies. You have to rate it for what it is.
  13. grayx

    grayx It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Mar 3, 2008
    That have played its part in some degree no doubt, although as CV pointed out, I'm not sure it's the right approach. It inevitably penalizes sequel for the sins of its precursor. Maybe, just maybe, sequels should be measured as +1, +2 or -1, -2 relative to the first game in the series. Or something like that. That way reviewer could establish, in a way, less arbitrary referent system for measuring the game and maybe some of misunderstanding could be avoided.

    As for the rest, I don't like close numbers, especially in polls of any kind: it's a fertile soil for manipulation if there is no good oversight. I know there is slight interim between final result and releasing it to the public in which ill intended people could make bad things if they are in position to influence it.
  14. UncannyGarlic

    UncannyGarlic Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Feb 6, 2008
    So if a series continues to improve it will eventually have a score of over 9000!?!? Seriously though, you would inevitably run off the top of the chart with some series if you did that. A great example of why that doesn't work and why games should be punished for offering little new is CoD.
    Do CoD games improve on their predecessors? Yes.
    Are they still pretty much the same experience? Yes.
    Are they getting punished for offering the same core experience over and over by reviewers? Yes, as they should be.
    How much content is in a CoD game? The single-player campaign is what, 10ish hours on the higher side? Fallout 3 and NV offered easily 40 hours of content in a single playthrough, with the upper end being around 80 hours.

    Also let's look at where Fallout 3 and New Vegas fall. Fallout 3 got a 91 and is the 62nd highest ranked PC game on Metacritic, a rank I think that we can agree with being too high (1742 users average to 8.0). New Vegas is the 337th highest ranked PC game on Metacritic at 84 (about top 10%), which is probably around where it belongs (1141 users average to 8.2). Both games only have 3 reviews that are "Mixed", ie below 75. That is very good, even more so considering the problems that both games had at launch.

    It's not that New Vegas is ranked too low, it's that many games are ranked too high.
  15. grayx

    grayx It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Mar 3, 2008
    First of all sorry for my English and length.

    Experiencing the same experience is not by default, a bad thing. After some time (joke aside) novelty of sex wear off but most of us still want that same remaining experience that resonate with us. We can eat something we like until we are sick of it, but after a while we crave the same taste again. I understand what you want to say, but my point is let's not forget that this is not inherently wrong thing. I guess it's a question of measure of all things, so if a game is a sequel it should be penalized in some sense because of it, but also rewarded if the thing that's repeating is something good or done right. In average, final score about that should be: is it done good or bad regardless of is it novelty or not. And I fully understand that one tasted fruit is much harder to taste as good as it was in the first place. That's the reason why I generally don't like sequels.

    As for scores, it's just an idea. If you nail down the score at 100%, and every sequel is better then previous one, I don't see reason why don't add couple percent to a previous score (until it hits 100%). It would be almost impossible (some reasons are already mentioned) to really achieve 100%, but that doesn't change the point.

    But as I said it's just ad-hock idea as a reaction to those uninformed and arbitrary reviews, feel free to forget it:)
    Hm, I'm not sure that we even want to go all the way down the rabbit hole of media bias, but the ranking problem could be of less importance having in mind OP and certainly wasn't my intention to defend it. As it has been said already, it's flawed and I can only tip my hat to that.

    I was pointing out that metacritic is a result of all those particular reviews not other way around. I could only imagine that its original purpose was to be informative to a player in the first place, averaging review scores in the attempt achieve less biased score which is sound goal, but it's obvious that the industry has taken notice and started using it as a tool to define market success and make deals based on its results. That alone is putting this site into peculiar situation. Knowing nothing about inner workings of this site, I can only imagine potential commercial options that were opening to them as a result of this. The system is obviously corrupted so don't expect some fair game because I bet there will be none.

    Another thing. As metacritic is sum of many smaller parts (scores) so, if incentive is good enough, some publisher could try to influence those specific reviews in one way or another, in effort to boost (in most cases) or lower the score of particular game. Divide and conquer scenario. I can see someone could do it if it would be useful for his/her company, and can only imagine what one is ready to do for a sack of bucks, hence my previous thoughts about this. But as I said, I'm not sure that we want to open this Pandora box of "what ifs". In short, my personal opinion is: it can't be repaired, it's systemic and requires the restart.
  16. namad

    namad First time out of the vault

    Aug 7, 2006
    the worst absolute worst part of this deal/scam travesty is that all the complaints leveled against fallout new vegas by reviewers were BETHSEDA's fault and bugs in their engine from both fallout3 and new vegas....

    so bethseda got out of paying obsidian their bonus by holding back on their own quality control, so evil, such robbery!
  17. Grotesque

    Grotesque It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Oct 16, 2006
    the way to spot a moron in the 21st century:
    he/she played Fallout 3, finished and enjoyed it
  18. Ilosar

    Ilosar Vault Fossil

    Apr 20, 2010
    Quoted for authenticity and great justice both.

    No game should get 96% average ratings. It's just ludicrous to claim that even the greatest of works, whatever the media, is worth such a score.

    I mean, scores are a crutch for anything but bland statistics anyway, but if we're going to use them might as well use them right.