#1 Edited by Stratto83 (17 posts) -

Hey Bombers and Community

As everyone in your industry is well aware and those amongst the GB community, a games review scores / meta score once reviewed at launch is it's critical to it's success both with the gaming community and big business. But -

Q: Are game review 'scores' really worth it or are they more trouble than they are worth?

Situation 1 - No rating system to rule them all

No one rating system can accurately articulate what the reviewer experienced with a game. Everyone is different and will always take away their own experiences. How can games geared to allow the player maximum flexibility in their playing style, like Skyrim and maybe the resent Dishonored, be rated on the same rating or scoring chart / system as a game that is on rails or a linear corridor shooter.

In this industry it seems we are trying to bucket our 'experiences' and reviews into a kind of tangible score. Why can a game just be and people either like it or don't? This goes for reviews. Why do reviewers have to give a score?

Q: @GB - Why do you give games a rating system at all? Why not just stick with the team illustrations?

To me the team/reviewer illustrations that go along with the reviews give a greater context. To me these shows the level of ENGAGEMENT the reviewer had with the game. A much better system, in my opinion, than stars or a 8.5 for example.

At the end of the day is the score just a device to help people decide if they should purchase a game? If so, and I know it's costly, why don't more games companies build betas and demos for people to make up their own mind?

Situation 2 - The Comments Section

With the recent launch of Halo 4 and AC3 this week also reaffirmed that many gamers, fan boys or not, DON'T read the full review article. Across many games sites gamers are just focusing on the score. While it's fantastic to see the comments section set alight -

Q: @GB - Do you as reviewers feel pissed off when you see comments from people clearly have not read your written reviews above?

Situation 3 - Day One / Future Patches / Content:

For game developers these days they can rest assured that should some terrible bug arise with their game, that they could not be addressed before the game was sent to print; or had time to revisit the code and improve it's performance they have the ability to release an update to their players. With services like Steam, Xbox Live etc. this process is now even easier if not seamless.

Q: So with the prospect of updates, patches and DLC to most games these days dose that mean game scores should be revisited once patches have been released?

Q: If a games company address the criticisms of reviewers and initial gamers as a patch - does that mean the original reviews no longer hold meaning because the criticism no longer exist after the patch? E.g Mass Effect 3? *

* PLease note that I have never played any of the Mass Effect game. YES I KNOW I'M WORSE THAN BRAD ON THIS FRONT. I more use it as an example because the story ending was a topic of such scorn by both players and reviewers. Now that they have released a patch does that mean the reviews, need to be revised?

Q: What does this also mean when games companies re-release HD versions of the game or new bundles of the game? For example Halo Combat Evolved got a face lift in recent times, and while it may be the same game play, does it still mean it should be treated as a new game and reviewed again or just saying it's the same but with new graphics so no need for a review?

If treated as a new game - which makes sense in a way - then when games are re-released without a face lift - like the rumoured Assassins Creed Anthology - come out does that mean they all need to be reviewed as new games because they will contain all DLC and patchs for the complete bundle?

This get more complicated the further we go hmmmmm.....

Situation 4 - The Quick Look

Usually when GB do a quick look on a game there isn't a review to follow. I could be wrong but that is my understanding.

To me these raw quick looks give the audience the best running example on how the game ACTUALLY plays. By removing the edited trailer videos that in some cases saturate us week to week and seeing someone actually play it - no matter if they are good or not at that mode / game - shows how people experience the game.

So if your watching a quick look with someone who may not be good at it and is the same person who reviewed it gives the worlds greatest context as to why they came away with the review they had written.

With that said of course not every game can have a quick look which brings us all the way back around. If everyone is bound to have different experience, different tastes in game types, different expectations of how games should play then -

Q: Are game review 'scores' really worth it or are they more trouble than they are worth?

I know there is so much more that can be discussed and explained here, more than I can. So to all the Bombers I want to know what you think should be the future of really YOUR INDUSTRY, YOUR CAREERS and where you think what you do on a day to day basis for a job should go.

To the Community what do you think about game review scores in general and where do you think the industry should go in the future for reporting and reviewing this industry that we are all clearly passionate about.

Regards

Stratto

#2 Posted by jayherman219 (10 posts) -

Review scores in general are garbage. 
 
/thread

#3 Posted by Zekhariah (697 posts) -

I think there is some value to review scores, but am inclined to leave it to the preferences of the reviewer or content publisher in terms of the type of review they want to do. Having multiple kinds is to the overall benefit, and I would just assume they try out different approaches to see what works best for themselves and their audience. From there, users can select what they and broadly vote what they prefer.

#4 Posted by Toxeia (728 posts) -

I'm the asshole that read the title of the thread and stopped there. Review scores are only worth as much as the reviewer that gives them. Regardless of the format, you have to know your reviewer, trust them, and understand how your tastes relate to or differ from theirs.

Eh, I went back and read. I'll do my best to answer based on what I've heard the guys say.

Situation 1: What I said just above this. It's based entirely on your relationship to the reviewer.

Situation 2: A review is written to help inform someone as to whether or not to purchase a game. If people aren't reading it and instead leap right into the comments to say that Halo's the best/worst franchise ever then they've already made their decision. If nothing else, they provided an ad-view if they aren't a subscriber.

Situation 3: DLC warrants a review, but games that are broken should be reviewed just as that. If a company decides "This is ready to be released to the public" then that's how it should be reviewed.

Situation 4: The guys review games they care about, and while there's some overlap with Quick Looks with those games, Quick Looks also cover lots of curiosities and concepts the guys might not be totally familiar with. That Cabella's game for instance. The Quick Look was a glance at that gun/vitality sensor, and the (in my opinion) shitty game that accompanied it. It didn't warrant a review, but it was an interesting thing to look at. Let's be clear though. The intent of a Quick Look is to supplement a review, even if it's a review from another site. It lets you see the mechanics in play and the over all quality of the game.

#5 Edited by Stratto83 (17 posts) -

@Toxeia: Thanks for your insights - and going back to read my terrible writing much appreciated. I agree with you that review scores and written reviews are only worth as much as the reviewer that gives them and you knowing your reviewer. Trusting them. And understanding how your tastes relate to or differ from theirs.

With that said the GB Community is a rare group because we get to see the raw said of the GB crew with no sugar coating. This allows us to get to know our reviewers really well. Do you feel that in the future game review sites will need to open up more so people can better get to know their reviewers and better trust them rather than the - Oh such and such site is being payed by such and such games company which is why the score is the way it is?

Personally I'm more than happy with the GB team and community the way it is.

#6 Posted by Sinusoidal (1293 posts) -

I've had a great time with critically panned games and been bored to tears by games raved about across the board. Games, like any other kind of media, are a subjective experience. Just take a look at some of the glaring discrepancies between professional review and reader review metascores over on metacritic. The best we, as consumers, can hope to do is to find a reviewer who mostly shares our opinions about what is and isn't fun in a game and follow their advice.

Review score should at the least reflect whether a game actually works or not. Too bad most reviewers popped Skyrim in their PS3 for a token minute and just assumed it was as stable as the other versions.

#7 Posted by HiHarryArcher (6 posts) -

Review scores are a relevant approximation for those with little time on their hands. They also cross-reference well enough to provide someone with a general consensus of opinion across different reviewers, websites etc.

There's nothing particularly deep, meaningful or abhorrent about review scores; such things are usually contained within the text of a review, unless you're reading advitorial.

#8 Posted by Illuminosopher (320 posts) -

Rather it be star,number or thumbs reviews are just plain dumb.

#9 Posted by That1BlackGuy (217 posts) -

They serve a purpose of delivering some opinions when totaled together with other reviews (keeping in mind that it's all subjective). The problem with this are the scores (i.e. no generally accepted scale) plus player expectations (a big one).

Ever see a game get a 6/10 or a 7/10? According to a certain demo of gamers, this translates to 1/10 or 2/10. Why is it that this gen, damn near every publicized game gets a 8/10+ or an equivalent of that scale? It really feels like 8/10 represents an average and everything below that is garbage which isn't true even a 6/10 is still not a bad game. However, again it's subjective I guess which renders it useless as a base, which is why it should be considered more a suggestion IF people want to use it. Personally, I could care less all of my favorite games got shat on by reviewers so to each their own.

#10 Posted by Stratto83 (17 posts) -

@That1BlackGuy: Thanks for your comments. I agree that there is a general disconnect that a game which get a 6/10 let's say translates to a 2/10.

It would be interesting to look into why this trend has happened. Perhaps as well have some insight from review sites on how they get to their final scores. This has been a long console generations for example. While our hardware has been the same the quality of the games has dramatically improved. When people go back to those games which received high scores in 2006 and compare them with games of the same score in 2012, will the old score still stand? In some cases yes, others perhaps not as we have experienced better ways of playing that type of game.

And I hear ya when you say some of your favourite games got shat on - as did a few of fine - Oh well I still had a great time.

#11 Posted by Willin (1279 posts) -

I give this thread 2 stars.

#12 Posted by YOU_DIED (702 posts) -

@Stratto83: In my opinion, it's almost impossible to quantify why a really good game is good. A review is attempting to describe a raw human experience with something that is incredibly engaging on multiple levels. Authors of both fiction and non-fiction spend years of their life trying to learn and perfect this craft. Moreover, video games are a multimedia experience: visual, auditory, etc. while a review is usually just words.

It seems like reviews often end up being a list of attributes and comparisons to other games (which is more often than not apples to oranges). I think numerical scores should be done away with, and maybe replaced with a simple 'recommendable (yes/no)' flag with detailed criteria on who the reviewer thinks would like it. Alternatively, they could be replaced with nothing at all, so people will have to actually read the reviews (crazy talk!).

#13 Posted by Stratto83 (17 posts) -

@YOU_DIED: Well said sir - thanks for your opinion

#14 Posted by TruthTellah (8537 posts) -

@YOU_DIED: So your preferable system would be what Kotaku does?

Attach a Yes or No to a game, describe the audience it might appeal to, and then list its major positives and negatives?

Which generally leads to a system overwhelmed with "Yes" conclusions with very rare "No" conclusions, leading to that designation being nearly meaningless. So, you just return to describing the positives and negatives and theorizing who the game may appeal to.

I'm not a fan of scores out of 100 or 10, as it's too tied to cultural perceptions of what numbers along that spectrum mean, but I definitely think there are some serious issues with many score-less alternatives.

#15 Edited by RPGee (759 posts) -

The best thing about the GB review scale is that it's not meant as an indicator of how good the game is. It's about how much they recommend the game. Therefore, 4 and 5 and recommended, 3 is either way, 1 and 2 not so much. As far as I'm concerned, that's all it should represent, because assigning a game a raw number is meaningless when compared to any number of games.

But no, numbers aren't needed, in my opinion. Not even the GB scale. Knowing what is good or bad about a game, as well as the reviewer's personal biases and choices, is more important. Above all, it should be treated as a buyer's guide, so there should be explanations that tell someone why they should buy a product. Apart from that, some actual evidence about why a game is good or bad is always appreciated. The point of a review is an aid for a buying decision, so they should represent what is in the product. That's the great thing about Quick Looks.

So, to answer,

  1. No, there should be no review scale whatsoever, in my opinion.
  2. There shouldn't be a comments section either. That's what forums and message boards are for. Reviewers shouldn't even look at them, mostly because they are filled with meaningless trash.
  3. Patches and the like should be addressed in the review if it's a Day 1 sort of thing, because that's the experience they should have. They shouldn't be catered to further, though, because that's ridiculous. The review still holds meaning, of course, unless it fundamentally changes the majority of the content. In which case, shame on the developers. DLC should get some significant attention, since it is additional paid content.
  4. The point of the QL is to showcase a game. It usually does run with the reviews, and seems a rare case when it doesn't. Are scores completely useless? No, not at all, not if they're used appropriately as a buying guide. If not, then they shouldn't be there.

This may be over-simplifying a complicated issue, however.

#16 Posted by EricSmith (316 posts) -

As someone who gets money for reviewing games, Section 3 of your manifesto is all pointless to me. I review games (on consoles) as they are when they will be shipped, unless the game is multiplayer only, or extremely multiplayer focused like Brink. The reason being is only 60% of Xbox 360s are online. That means 28 million people can buy a game and not have the opportunity to get any patches or DLC. If a publisher tells me there is going to be a day-one patch I will mention it in my review, but it will in no way change the score of the product. 
 
My duty is to the reader, not the publisher. My stance has always been that they should ship the game complete, not rely on a patch. Developers giving the "We have a hard date," line, means nothing to me. The consumer should not have to deal with poor publishing or developmental practices. They should deal with buying a good game, and playing it through.
 
PS, I have never been denied a requested game from an angry publisher or PR before, either. Generally, they understand the sentiment and are still confident that their game will hold up the pre-patch scrutiny it is given.

#17 Edited by Kyreo (4600 posts) -

@Willin said:

I give this thread 2 stars.

FUCK YOU MAN!!! Yer NO video game fan! You should go die if you think this thread is 2 stars!!!

#18 Edited by Karkarov (2984 posts) -

There is nothing wrong with review scores, you just have to find a reviewer who has tastes close to yours. Also what he said. If a reviewer really cares they can always go back and add an extra bit on the end of their review after a update. Just a couple sentences to say whether or not the issues they mention in the review proper are addressed by the patch or not. But if the game was shipped for sale at full retail with those issues in it then it needs to be scored on the merits of what it is at shipment, not what it is after 2 dlc and 3 patches.

#19 Edited by Bones8677 (3210 posts) -

Review scores are necessary. It's just idiots on the internet behaving like idiots.

To me these raw quick looks give the audience the best running example on how the game ACTUALLY plays.

Actually they don't.

Quick Looks are usually first impressions.

They tend to take place in the beginning or first quarter/ half of the game so as to not show any significant spoilers. It serves to show you the mechanics in action but provides no context as to how it all plays out in the end. My point is, they show the early parts of the game, and the early parts are typically the best parts of the game. It's usually the second half of the game where they begin to fall apart.

How many games have you played where the base game was good, but the ending sucked?

A Quick Look isn't going to inform you like a full proper review does.

To me the team/reviewer illustrations that go along with the reviews give a greater context.

They've been saying that they will be getting rid of those cute illustrations (sucks but whatever). Illustrations are a terrible way to gauge a game. If only because they can be interpreted in almost infinite different ways. I'm a Graphic Designer and I can tell you it's not easy to create an image that gets a single definitive message across to all types of cultures, ages, and demographics. What might makes sense to you will not make sense to another person.

Look at the standard Stop Sign. It wasn't enough that the sign was bright red and octagonal, they had to add "STOP" to the sign in order for people to understand. And you want to apply that same style to reviews?

#20 Posted by Stratto83 (17 posts) -

@EricSmith: Thanks for your comments and understand that point three can be considered pointless. Was more curious what people thought on the matter seeing many sites seem to make special note that problems would be addressed with day one patches.

As one of those 28 million people who can't get their console / game updates - I do feel that if went to purchase a game and the publisher says 'We know there are some issues there we couldn't address before we went to print, but we have a day one patch for you' The I have to question why am I asked to pay full price for a product which the creator acknowledges has issues? Then again if you could get the update then no problem I guess.

#21 Posted by Stratto83 (17 posts) -

@Bones8677: That is probably a better way to word what quick looks provide. A first impression.

I can say I have played a number of games where the core game was great, maybe had a lull in later or mid sections to later fall flat on it's face in the end and just ask - What just happened? On the other end I've had games which I have replayed over and over because I enjoyed so much. How I would rate those games - I have no idea.

As an interactive designer / developer I agree that the illustrations are not the best, and more than like should not be used as a, way to use as a review gauge. I more felt they give a better understanding of the guys feeling of the game than a star system or number.

As a Graphic Designer where do you think the review system could go on GB and other sites? Are there any examples you think work really well or others which are just terrible?