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.


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