Metacritic vs User Reviews…which is more important?


While watching G4’s discussion on Mass Effect 3’s ending  they brought  up something on the show truly interesting that I don’t think a lot of people talk about.

On “Feedback”, the crew of Blair Herter, Nikole Zivalich, Stephen Johnson, and Donell Tucker all got together to discuss what I thought would just be a “full out” defense of,  I mean, their take of, the ME3 debacle, but in a twist, started off with something that really stood out to me.  Metacritic vs User Reviews and had a back and forth on which is more important. According to Blair there is a huge divide between Metacritic Scores and User Scores for ME3, with Metracritic scores resulting in a 9.3 and User scores resulting in 4.9.

This topic is interesting for so many reasons because there is so many ways you can go with it, coupled with the fact that I just came off doing an article calledCause and (Mass) Effect (3): What happened to the reviewers? And a while before thatDo you believe reviewers have to end a game before reviewing it?” I felt compelled to tackle this question head on.

I guess to find out which is more important you have to ask the question, important to whom? The consumers? The developers? Overall?

Lets first look at the Developers:

Who do developers consider more important? At first instinct it may be easy to say  the “Users” because they’re the ones paying for it, while the ones getting paid to review (Metacrtic) is receiving — for the most part these games for free.

But it seems Developers lean more to Metacritic because it’s more of a “professional” reflection of their work and looks better on paper, kind of like in other genres where you can be the actual “champion” of the world (which a lot of developers strive to be) or you can be the “people’s champion” but ironically enough and as other genres has shown itself to be, sometimes having the title of “people’s champ” holds more weight.

So Metacritic it is, right? Not so fast…

Think about the fact that most User Reviews are people that actually are fans of the game vs Professionals who are reviewing  the game because it’s their job and may have zero interest in the game itself. Not saying that from time to time a professional is not reviewing a game he actually likes but it’s like saying “every orange is a fruit but every fruit is not a orange”. If the former is the case someone can argue he/she can’t judge the game as thoroughly, as say a fan who has all the games in  a series, knows the history, knows the characters, knows why something would or wouldn’t make sense etc.

Now Let’s look at the consumers:

Who do consumers consider more important? On one end I think people enjoy the professionalism but are critical of the critics (lmbo) because of the long standing rumor that the “boys up top” are receiving payola to crank out these reviews which ultimately results in a lot of bias and bolsters  inconsistencies in their work. Ironically it could be said consumers sometimes don’t even trust other consumers. But who do we really put our stock in? If a 100 users say a game is a 10 but you have 30 “professionals” score it a 7 or vice-versa who do consumers usually listen to?

Now here’s where it gets messy, in the age where you can have a lot of “overzealous” fans and on the other extreme — “haters”, any “joe” could come in and jack up or lower the score, not because that’s the way he feels, but just because it’s Tuesday! Thus leaving an inaccurate representation of what a game’s “quality” really is.

At the end of the day it can be the gift and curse, the same reason why you would lean one way or the other is the same reason why you wouldn’t lean one way or the other. If both parties have a healthy balance they should be fine but I suggest you avoid suffering from review-itis.

My goal, since I’m a part of this industry, is to act like a professional but think like a gamer so you will always get as pure of a review as possible — A “player’s coach” if you will.

Which do you see as more important? CCU wants to hear from you.

Side notes*

Not sure what Metacrtic is? Here’s a link explaining such.

User Reviews: Reviews that come straight from consumers or “non-professionals”.

Here’s  a link for the G4 show “Feedback” just in case you wanted to view it yourself.

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2 Comments

  1. There is something wrong about your reasoning, if a fan put a 9 on a game or a 10 (perfect score) doesn’t mean that hes biased always but that the game succeed to deliver and he is satisfied with the final result, because even a fan wont forgive his favorite company if the quality drop, here some good examples from favorite franchise:

    Final Fantasy
    Resident Evil
    Silent Hill

    Every new chapter of those franchises used to be AAA title with millions of fans w8ing for a new release like crazy, well not anymore game professionals can put 9 & 10 but it wont matter for the fans because when something is wrong real fans will be the first who will protest & ask for an explanation and imo their opinion have much more weight than any game journalist out there.

  2. user reviews.
    terrible games get good reviews from companies.. look at bulletstorm, game deserved a 3 and it got 7-10s

    many user reviews are bad as well though because of fanboyism and enphasis on things that are less imporatnt then the gameplay.

    games are 2 things
    Gameplay ( story, graphics, sound, basically how much fun you have)

    and value ( how long it last, good side quest, does it have re-playability, online modes)

    mass effect has great gameplay but no value, so bad game
    the story is awesome the gameplay is fun but you can do just about everything in the game in just a saturday.

    final fantasy XIII had terrible gameplay but it a very long game, so again bad game.

    skyrim is fun, and it lasts over 100 hours… it has huge value and great gameplay THUS great game.

    its sad the game industry has gone downhill so much this gen.. its almost as if value is meaningless anymore.. few games last more then 60 hours which this gen is the breaking point between a good value and bad value.
    thank you bethesda and a few other companies who actually made games worth the $ spent.

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