A UK company named Vertical Slice claims it's able to predict video game review scores a year in advance of release, by reverse engineering magazine reviews, combined with an analysis method used by marriage counsellors.
Speaking to Eurogamer—you really should read the entire story—Vertical Slice director Graham McAllister boils down the process to two things: backtracking through 154 Edge magazine reviews of games, and then analysing what people say and do while playing the games. The latter, called behavioural or sequential analysis, was used by a marriage counsellor who predicted, with 97 per cent accuracy, whether a couple would stay together or break up based on the first five minutes of observing them.
"People think you can't predict a game based on quantifiable data," McAllister told Eurogamer. "What we can do is get these estimators. Some people will just have a hard job believing it. We have analysed the statistics to death, thorough and rigorous, and what we're saying is, 'You may not like it, but this is the best model that anyone has come up with to date.'"
In this case, McAllister's analysis is based on just a single minute of gameplay. "What's important about that first minute is that it's the time people play a demo for. That's super critical," he said. "After 30 seconds, we can predict if the game is going to be bad or good, to a certain extent."
The reverse-engineering of the Edge reviews involves the usage of certain words or phrases, matched to scores. "All the high-scoring games talk about certain aspects; all the medium-scoring games talk about certain things; and all the low-scoring games talk about certain things. And there's a very clear mapping between them," McAllister said. Can You Predict Review Scores? [Eurogamer, via Go Nintendo]