An Open Letter: Metacritic

An Open Letter is a new feature where we communicate directly, straight to the heart of someone/something/anything in gaming. This month we speak to Metacritic.

Dear Metacritic,

I just wanted to check in. How are you feeling? Are you okay? Being a victim of abuse is a something that no-one should have to go through and I wanted to make sure you were coping alright.

I understand, you provide a service – I respect that, and God knows I’ve used that service on numerous occasions. Sometimes you just need some quick and nasty advice, and you’ve always provided that with gusto. I appreciate that.

But it seems like there are people out there that want to abuse you, Metacritic. They want to ravage you. In board meetings across the globe they call out your name in vain and demand that you service them, that you give them the scores they deserve. Franchises rise and fall on your whim. Metacritic, you’ve become powerful - that’s why they treat you so shoddily.

There are other victims too. Game developers, in attempts to please you, to please their publishers, have started to adapt, to create games they think will serve you best, condensing their creativity into one specific funnel, transforming into one bizarre development hivemind. Instead of trying to create something new, they’ll create something that works, something that works for you - that works with you.

Developers are judged by you, tossed away if you disapprove. Sales are often dependent on you. Observers have come to worship you and treat you like a God, and no one person or entity should ever have that power.

And there’s the knock on effect, the unrelenting pressure - reviewers who feel an unconscious need to conform, to meet your needs. In a bizarre way you’ve been abused, but you’re also an oppressor – encouraging people to either work in tandem with you, or rebel outright in a blind grab for hits and temporary fame - but no-one is completely honest. Everyone is tainted by your expectations; your needs and requirements.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. You are, as I said before, simply providing a service and that’s a good thing. And maybe it’s better that games are judged by you, as an indicator of quality (if all things run smoothly).

But things don’t always run smoothly and you’re not always right. You’re not a God and you don’t deserve worship. You’re simply a reviews aggregator – and you’re as fallible as those who serve you, and those you service.


Comments

    Dear Metacritic (M-Crit to friends),

    I am sorry for being one of those that abuse you. I come and go like the wind, and only when i feel like it. Sometimes it can be months until you hear from me again.
    See, it's not that i don't love you, it's more than i just don't see our relationship going further than a quick look now and then when i need something, otherwise i fear you may polute my already impressionable mind.

    When it comes to me gathering information and opinions on older games, you are number one in my heart, but with anything recent you're more like that cheap hooker that hangs around the coke machine, yelling things out in a drug induced haze as everyone just walks by trying to avoid eye contact...

    What i'm trying to say is that i'm my own person, as are you... well sort of... ok not realy. But anyway, my point is that we both want different things and we are going in different directions. That doesn't mean i won't still think of you, but just don't expect me to be there when you're yelling at a wall about how great and horrible gears of war 3 is...

    Sincerely,
    Your Chuloopa

    For me personally, Metacritic, I think it's over, we had a good time, but I think I've grown and you haven't.

    So could you please swing past while I'm at work and pick up your TV remote, Punisher Warzone comics and Gameboy. It's just easier that way, its too late for talking.

    Dear Metacritic,

    I'm sorry, but I'm seeing someone else. They are called Gamerankings.

    It was never going to work between us. I'm sorry.

      Digging the mature ladies huh? nudge nudge wink wink.

    Reviews are as flawed as the people that write them and represent only the opinion of the writer.

    Metacritic is as flawed as all these reviewers added up.

    Whilst it is arguable that M-Crit has some validity, it cannot accurately predict whether you will or will not like any specific game.

    Case in point: I like Too Human and Silent Hill Homecoming.

      I love you! Uh, I mean I loved Too Human and I got pretty sick of people who hadn't played it telling me it was crap because reviewers told them it was.
      Guess I'd better play Silent Hill:Homecoming now to see if I love that one too.

        Bastards aren't going to make us a #2 though :(
        I played too human just for the story! it was getting exciting then it just ended!
        I WANT MY ENDING!!!

        Even though it was grindy, it was still fairly enjoyable

          Calm down guys, calm down.

          Too human is a terrible game. I played 8 hours of it and just... gave up. No matter how good the "story" was. There is no going past the fact the game was broken.

          You three must be the only people in the WORLD that enjoyed that game.

          PS I bought it for 8 bux... for 20 dollars trade in credit for it, technically made 12 bux off it...

          STILL NOT WORTH IT!

          *sigh* sorry for yelling.

            Besides, if you want more story, just delve into some Norse mythology, particularly pertaining to the Ragnarök. Some interesting and enjoyable stories there.

          Having recently got an Xbox, I've been scouring the 360 shelves at stores for cheap good games I've had a passing interest in, and Too Human keeps catching my eye (not to mention reminding me of the good ol' early GameCube days :P)... but then I remember its reputation and keep on walking.

      Sa but true, it's like making a wall out of bricks that are made by seperate people. It might stand up but its a pretty crappy wall.

      Oh, God. I think I just puked a little. In my mouth. Silent Hill: Homecoming? Really? Bleh. Nyugh. Pass me a glass of water, please.

      the other thing is that i can write a review on a game for fun i don't have to provide any evidence i've ever played it

    Dear Metacritic,
    Quit bugging me, I will never care what you think and quite frankly I find it terrifying that so many people do.

    Dear Metacritic,

    No hate from me. You provide a valuable service, and if the gaming media adjusts their assessment methods so that their opinions can be published on your website then that is their concern.

    Videogames have been a medium prone to sequels (and a wholesale lack of creativity) for quite some time. I would argue this was the case long before I began to consult with you.

    Ordinarily for me, purchase decisions are based on the impressions I read about a title pre-release. While reviews often reinforce the initial impressions, they can in great number sway me from purchasing something I was only remotely interested in. On the other hand, if something garners positive quantitative analysis out of relative obscurity (Braid, Demons' Souls) you then open my eyes, and my wallet.

    I consult Kotaku daily for reviews and opinion, and the site has not since I started reading it afforded numeric scores to evaluate videogames. I appreciate that, I respect that, and these qualitative measures can at times have more sway than a number.

    I would argue that no outlet on its own can provide the means to justify a purchase decision. You merely assist with filtering the raw data that the gaming media provides, and help with those 50/50 gambits. IGN and Gameinformer often scare me with their fleeting, albeit usually positive analysis of AAA games upon release, only to publish an article weeks/months later providing valid criticisms of a game that they will probably state is "Game of the Year," material. For an example, IGN gave Fable III a score of 8.5 only to publish an article titled "Editorial: Fable III - Why It Fails." 8.5 is not a fail, if Fable III went to IGN University, it would be awarded a High Distinction with that score.

    Metacritic doesn't speak English, it only does the math. I refuse to hate on the numbers guy, they only try to help.

    To Kotaku AU, please criticise a publication that deserves a higher level of scrutiny, like Gameinformer. Especially after that 30 characters that defined a decade article. That was rubbish. I loved Red Dead Redemption, but how has Bonnie MacFarlane (or John Marston for that matter) characterised a decade of videogames? How can they rate Niko the fifth most influential character and lament that "Before Grand Theft Auto IV, Rockstar protagonists were predominantly shallow criminals driven by a lustful desire for money and power," only to then announce the 17th most influential character, Tommy Verceti from GTA: Vice City? Absolute rubbish.

    To me metacritic, it's not your numbers that I loathe, it's the usually inane opinions behind them.

    Keep on adding, subtracting and dividing.

    Your friend,

    Dutch

      Very very true Dutch, sadly Metacritic is as good as its shittiest review, which makes it inherently unreliable.

      I've found I can pick a good game when I see one (excluding MW2...following the hype doesn't lead anywhere good :/).

      Often the case the most reliable review of a game is your own.

    I don't think anyone could have accurately predicted that.

    Ars Technica had an interesting piece a while back on why they don't give scores so they aren't eligible for inclusion by Metacritic, and therefore avoid some of this mess: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2010/05/game-reviews-on-metacritic-why-we-avoid-inclusion.ars

    Metacritic is flawed for the same reason Rotten Tomatoes is, but it doesn't mean it's unusable.

    Every industry has its Armand White who's contrary for the sake of it and deliberately fucks over scores because he's a troll.

    While other critics have their professional reputation on the line. Hence when a bad, or even slightly bad game comes out, the critics savage it in a furious race to see who can be as cruel/funny as possible. It's like watching Idol's judges trying to one-up each other with insults.

    Dutch hit the nail on the head. What a pointless article by Kotaku.

    Oh and did you get permission to use the Metacritic logo? I doubt it.

      Hey, no need to go attacking Serrels or Kotaku. If you don't like it, don't read it. Many people here enjoy these articles as they are intended to be a parody.

      So go somewhere else for your game news.

        No need for that. Let's all love each other, and agree that perhaps Kotaku's scrutiny is best directed elsewhere. Let's not blame the industry's downturn on Metacritic.

    I usually use m-crit to judge how bad something is rather then good, if i think something will be good i will make up my own mind, if i think something will be bad i use it to judge just how bad

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