Popular developer releases game.
Game receives praise.
Said popular developer releases two more creating a popular game franchise.
Said developer releases one more game in popular franchise unexpectedly.
Game is reviewed by hundreds giving more positive scores.
A mega corporate newspaper reviews game and gives it a poor score.
Internet is outraged and requesting mega corporate newspaper to remove score.
In short, this is what is happening right now with a Washington Post writer and his review of the latest in the Uncharted series by developer Naughty Dog. Throughout the internet review spheres, Uncharted 4 is a lovable, adventurous entry. To Michael Thomson, it was the fourth part in a series that should have ended after part one.
This score, a 40/100 that was sent to MetaCritic from the Washington Post, is now set in stone amongst the rest of the raving reviews. And the internet is outraged. Even to the point of Uncharted voice actor Troy Baker signing a petition asking for Washington Post to take the review down.
So why does all this matter? It’s just one man’s opinion right? It can’t really hold that much weight. But it does and the internet has amplified that to over a thousand fold. But much like anything else, the internet will forget and move on to the next unimportant scandal.
But it brings up the true importance of game review scores. In the beginning it was considered a final word on a game review. After a full detailed, insightful expose, a simple number or set of numbers, typically out of 5, 10, or 100, would be given. You could use this as a simple reminder when you standing at your local big box deciding on which game to purchase.
As time worn on, these review scores starting carrying far more weight. To the point that people didn’t even read the review and just looked at the review score and developers were being paid bonuses if their game reached a certain number.
Like everything else, the score will be forgotten and only the gravity of the game itself will remain. No one will remember poor Troy Baker and his online petition. No one will remember what Thomson said in his review for Grand Theft Auto 5 because it’s the Washington Post.
What score did Gamepro give to Shaq Fu for the Super Nintendo? Do a Google search.
4.13 out of 5.0 (GamePro November 1994 page 124)
Shaq Fu: a 4.13 out of 5.0
And that Google search won’t show you the site that GamePro put up in lieu of the review in their magazine. You’ll find other sites referencing it.
GamePro mattered in 1994. They were one of the few leading voices in video game reviews. Same as AltaVista was for search before Google. Or MySpace before Facebook.
As will MetaCritic fall like so many before it.
What lasts is a solid game. A game that is fun, interesting, thought provoking. A game that will echo long after a poor review score fades to black.
Focus on the game, not the numbers.
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