AU Diary: GameScore

AU Diary: GameScore

How much attention do you pay to review scores? And how much value do they have?

On Twitter, under the hashtag #gamescore, there is an epic discussion building regarding reviews scores and how relevant they are.

Some interesting questions being raised that we would like to throw out to you.

– What review scale works best? – Should game reviews be scored at all? – Do you pay more or less attention to reviews without scores?

If you are on Twitter feel free to jump in and join the debate (I’m @Serrels, and Seamus is @Seamus) or let’s start our own one in the comments below!


  • Game review scores mean nothing to me. I pay absolutely not attention to them whatsoever. In fact, the only reviews I ever read, are the ones on kotaku, and usually they’re reader reviews! They tend to offer a much better perspective on games than your typical score reviewer.

  • Barely pay any attention at all to scores. Qualitative information is much more important than quantitative information in the area of reviews and opinions.

    Some websites try to jazz up a score by giving different scores to different areas such as gameplay and graphics, but it’s all the same. Is the gameplay enjoyable? Is it easy on the eye? Does it make you want to play more. Those are the key questions, and there is not some magical foruma to translate these into a number.

    I also doubt that people who review a lot of games are happy in the long run with their ratings, as it will constrict future ratings. If you give GTA 4 a rating of 10/10, and Call of Duty Black Ops a 9.5/10, what happens when you get a game that’s better than Black Ops but worse than GTA 4? I don’t see any reviewers putting large decimal numbers to accurately reflect their rankings.

  • Simple, I care naught about actual scores, as people’s perceptions of what is fair vary dramatically, instead, I base my own perception on their comments on controls, graphics, gameplay, sounds, etc…

    It’s a much more effective way of getting an accurate measure of the game 😀

  • I use game score as a base, generally you can tell if a game is getting on average 6/10 or lower, it’s a below average game. A good score is about 8, but I never get fooled by a 9+ score, as I hated RDR and COD (They bore me to tears).

    I generally listen to pros and cons about games, as well as any criticisms that the reviewers have (Controller layout, nasty bugs). The nasty bugs in games thing brings me back to above, why do bugged out games like New Vegas and RDR get 9+ scores, yet they’re broken games… Broken game = crappy game.

    • Finally someone else that thinks RDR and FNV are dull, not just broken. A bit of flair and colour go a long way for me to say “meh, boring” to “wow, this looks fun”.

    • Agreed. I do notice game scores but after that I watch game review videos, read gamer reviews and ask my gamer friends.

      I believe that only the people with unlimited time and/or money can really go without game scores as a rough guide to what direction they should put their attention. What this means to me is that almost anything under a 6 score I will ignore outright.

      I’m not a game snob, I’ve grown up with my fare share of shit game, it’s just at this stage in my life I’m not ready to spend time and money on something that I’ll be disappointed with 1/2 hour after I load it up. It’s just like buying anything else. It’s not easy to drop $x on a mystery box so you do your research and if multiple sources say that the game is not worth my time then I’m just not going to bother and move on.

      This in turn doesn’t mean that scores dictate what you have to buy. If a game gets 10/10 it doesn’t mean you ‘have’ to buy it just because everyone else is. Game scores are good approximations and not absolutes and more or less keep me away from the truly awful ones.

      If there’s a great 4/10 game out there please guide me to it.

      • IGN gave God Hand a 3.0, but heaps of trendy gamers still boned it. They even turned around and put it in their top 100 PS2 games list. Personally I think its a turd.

        Enjoyment of some entertainment chunk, movie, game, tv or music, is far too subjective a thing to be assigned a score by a single person. A metascore however…once you get a sample of 50 or more reviews theres some statistical power behind that number.

  • No relevance to me. I find it baffling how hordes of gamers can be swayed by subjective reviews. I actually rarely read any review (apart from reader reviews) because I’ve made up my mind by then. The pros of most games out there outweigh the cons. A lot of people that rely only on reviews often don’t know what they want, imho.

  • I might use scores as a vague guide but the real information is in the wall of text. I always laugh when you see people getting shirty because “GAME X ONLY GOT 9.4 WHEN IT DESERVED 9.6”

  • Yeah I don’t tend to listen to game reviews much. I will go check out metacritic for something I’m not sure about or don’t know much on, to try and at least get a bit of an average and check a few one line summaries from people.

    That said, that’s a tasty looking burger you have there in twitter land. Tasty indeed. Man I want a burger now…

  • Not much at all. Depending how much time I have, I’ll read the last paragraph of a review first to gauge to get a rough idea and then go back through the review if I think it’s worthwhile. Otherwise, I dive straight in – the score tells me nothing useful.

    The only time I take notice of a score is if it stands out as something completely at odds to my own opinion. Encourages me to read the review, but hasn’t changed any of my opinions yet – usually they’re low scores.

  • I pay little attention to the score given to a game when it’s reviewed and much rather read what the players thoughts were on the game itself, what was enjoyed and what they disliked. However in saying that I pretty much never buy a game based on reviews anyway. I purchase most of my new release games the day they come out and enjoy reading reviews after wards to see if my thoughts are reflected by others.
    One downside to my enjoyment in this, I waste a hell of a lot of money on games I don’t like =\. On the plus side I’d be able to write plenty of my own reviews!…If I could be bothered…

  • Scores are almost pointless to me. Sure, if a game I’ve never heard of scores high, then I might take a look at the reviews etc.

    Usually I know whether or not I want a game before it’s released.

    The best reviews are ones that explain the reasons for the scores in a qualitative manner, as it allows readers to compare the reviewer’s opinions on certain things to their own opinion to build a better notion of what the games are like.

  • don’t mean a thing and i don’t read review’s till after i’ve played it

    it’s much in the same way when a game launches and everyone is in the forum’s saying “OMG it doesn’t run well on my computer” and then because the thread gets some hits from 100 other people they assume that everyone is having the issue

    No your having the issue i’m enjoying my game

    basically any media you can find is normally geared negatively unless there super fanboi number 1

    • Haha this sounds like a current affairs story 🙂

      ‘Tomorrow on “Today Tonight”.

      Gamers taken for a ride. The integrity of game reviews takes a back seat as publishers splash out on lavish gifts. Find out the dirty, undermining tactics of top publishers. Who do you trust? Join us as we bring light to the dazed and confused gamers.’

  • I tend to read the review and ignore the score at the end. The score always seems to be the most obvious lie, how often do you see a 6 or under? Most games don’t deserve a 5.

    With the main text you can usually read between the lines and sort the truth from the bullshit.

    Mostly I dont agree with reviews, they either give too little or too much praise. I never read a review that just says “Yeah it’s alright”.

  • I like a score coz it gives a super quick representation of how much ppl liked or disliked a game and if the review is a bit hazy on weather they like it or not, a score is a clear undisputable message saying weather they liked it or not.

  • I have not paid attention to scores since my subscription to Hyper ended, in 1997.

    Reviews are only ever helpful to me if the writer seems to be looking at the game the way I would.

    Hypothetically speaking, it would seem that perhaps some games may be able to be procured through less than official channels, and allegedly this process may or may not be helpful in deciding which games to drop hard-earned on, or so I’ve heard…

  • Well I am going to go against the grain here. I do pay attention to the scores, but I don’t let that sway me. To me, the review is the more important swaying factor.
    I tend to find that you can find a reviewer out there who through reading enough of their reviews, get a sense that they are on the same page as you.

    If I am going to shell out my hard earned for a game, I will always check a review first. You can typically guess what the reviewer will give the game at the end of the article anyway.

    I have picked up some amazing games that would have been normally off my radar if it hadn’t come down to the review.

    So scores… meh, review… yeh.

    • I agree with you as I’ve mentioned above and think that time is also a huge factor. I think scores give you a good indication of what definitely not to get.

  • Scored reviews are important to me, because I’ve noticed that they pretty much nail the score i would personally give a game(but this is just me, and I realize that other people relate differently to game scores)
    I’ve found games with a score between 8 and 9 out of then are the ones that i would feel most accurate about
    To answer your questions:
    -I think a scale of 1 to 10 works best, with decimals(like 7.6 or 8.9)
    -game reviews should be scored, in the way that IGN does them, at the end of every game
    -I generally pay less attention to reviews without scores, unless i’m really interested in reading about a game, before i played it(which i almost never am, as i feel it ruins the game a little bit)

    • I agree with you the most. I believe the old IGN scoring system with 100 point scale was best. Their new system which is now a 20 point scale seems a bit off to me. But I am someone who has been going to IGN since way back when it started as!

      That being said, the review score is only worthwhile if the review is written by a reputable reviewer and of course that is all up to personal preference. I used to trust IGN reviews when they had a strong review team, but over the past few years a lot of the guys have moved on or been layed off and now the reviews are done by what seems 19 year old interns!

      To me a review score is necessary and is a quick reference on how good the game will be without having to read an entire review. Perfect for when you see a bargain game, bring up metacritic on your iPhone use it as reference for your purchase.

  • The full scale (whether it is out of 5, 10, 100 or seventy bajillion) is never used, so you have to adjust the numbers to accommodate what the actual bottom end of the rating scale is. And 8 of 10 might be alright in a system where the range is 5 to 10, but when the range is 7 to 10, it’s not as good.

    Suffice to say, the score given for any game is effectively arbitrary. If you’re going to use reviews to judge a game, go by the content of the actual review.

  • I watch Noobtoob, which instead of a numerical rating gives a recommendation in the categories of “Thumbs up buy”, “Thumbs up rental”, “Thumbs down rental (when you got nothing else)” and “Thumbs down buy”.

    This makes a lot more sense to me as its a qualitative view that gives a better indication of what kind of quality and longevity to expect from the game.

    The hosts of the podcast aren’t biased either, own all the consoles and between themselves they generally represent most kinds of gamers (ones into western rpgs and platformers, others into fps and rts and is OCD on collectables in games).

    I highly recommend Noobtoob to anyone reading this. 🙂

  • I’ve always read reviews, and I’m guilty of the last minute meta-check before committing to a purchase.

    But lately I’ve been finding that review scores have become a lot less reliable.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed some recent releases that havn’t wowed critics, like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Enslaved.

    These were both games with only a single player campaign, and not much reason to go back and replay.

    Truthfully it’s hard to rationalize giving either of these games a similar score to say Uncharted 2, which packs in a huge campaign and also mulitplayer or Halo Reach with it’s forge editor and ongoing playability.

    But both were very well made games,and very enjoyable, even though they don’t offer the ongoing replayability of other games.

    Sometimes I think that critics should review the campaigns and mulitplayer elements of games seperately…

  • Numerical review scores are pretty bad scales. Theres also this fear in the industry of using the lower half of the 1 to 10 scale (I mean how often do you see titles scoring bellow 6).

  • They decide pretty much all my purchases. I rarely buy a game that gets universally poor reviews. While to some people they don’t matter I’ve always found that I tend to agree with most reviewers out there.

  • I think review scores would be more useful if they weren’t biased towards the top of the scale so much.

    The way many review sites score games, they leave lots of room to express how bad a bad game is, but hardly any room to express how good a good game is.

    I’d prefer a score out of 10 that uses the full range, rather than a score out of 100 that bunches all the scores up at the top of the scale.

  • I don’t pay attention to review scores at all. I much prefer to read in depth reviews much like the ones I would find occasionally on kotaku. They give me a better idea of what the game is all about and if the game would appeal to myself.

    review “scores” are usually pretty biased these days and at least with an in depth review I can tell if the reviewer is being a total twat or not.

  • The time i use review scores is if i’m in EB/JB and i see a game that looks a little interesting to me but i haven’t heard about it. Then i’ll look up gamerankings on my phone and see what its average is. if it is below 60% i probably will pass but if it is around 70% or more i’ll check it out.

    With individual review scores it only matters if you know the reviewer. Just like movie review star ratings. you need to know if your taste match the reviewers so you know if what they call 4 star is what you call 4 star.

  • The only numerical value that affects my game buying habits is measured in dollars, not fractions…

    I like Kotaku’s (old) review structure.. just gets straight to the point and tells you what’s good and whats not.

    I pay much more attention to reader/user reveiws, however, as these are the people who play the games because they like the Genre’s they are in, therefore have a clearer mind on whether or not a game is good and for what reasons…

    I got Too Human for something like $5 or $9… And i enjoyed it quite a bit, yet most other people hate it with a passion.. go figure.. I got my moneys worth, though.

    In the end i just read a review to fin out what a game is about and what to expect in terms of how the game plays – not to listen to the views of the writter.

  • I generally hit up Metacritic before getting a game. But I don’t stop at looking at the score for the game – I look at the critics score, compare it to the users score – is it better or worse? by how much?

    I then read some of the highest and lowest of the reviews, skimming the ones between before checking out some of the user reviews.

    So yes, to me the score matters, but the number just lets me see an overview.

  • Game rating scores are meaningless in a way, because how much you like a game is a subjective thing. It’s like giving banana-flavoured ice cream a score of 9/10. You know other people are not going to agree with you.

    That being said, if a reviewer marks a game below 50%, it’s usually for a few good reasons. I’m pretty sure I’d agree with them.

  • i run on reccomendations, not scores

    so if someone gives a game 5/10, but my mate really loves it, i’m going to trust my mate, because he knows me more then some random reviewer does

  • I usually take a glimpse of the scores to get a sense of how good it is (generally via Metacritic).

    Regardless of whether there is a score or not, I usually just read the last few paragraphs which usually sums up the pros and cons of the game.

    The best review score system would be out of 10, but using the full range, not all stacked up from 6-10, as mentioned numerous times above.

    As James said, “they leave lots of room to express how bad a bad game is, but hardly any room to express how good a good game is.”

  • Well an indication i will like a game is if the critics hate it. Same goes for movies. And if a critic really likes a game i have no doubt i will hate it.

    I love Tony Hawk Ride all the reviews were terrible. But i wondered if anyone actually played it cause it was fun, not the best game, but was it was heaps of fun.

    Citics love most of the top AAA games, but i would never ever play them. They bad mouth COD, i love it and play it for 12 months. They love Dance Central (are you freakin serious) maybe if i was a 10 year old girl i might like it.

    • You make a really good point here – I’ve read nothing but bad press on these Tony Hawk games but CGR Undertow (look up Youtube) reviewed it the other day and you could see them actually playing it and it was pretty cool, a lot of the time the gaming press is WAY too narrow-minded, Kotaku actually epitomises this with it’s “should you care” notes on the weekly New Releases postings.

      Just as much as I can like a AAA game like Battlefield or COD I can also like the more casual stuff like Singstar or Peggle.

      Hell the only day-one purchase I’ve made all year was Monopoly Streets which was largely ignored by the gaming press despite being a lot of fun for families to play together.

      Conversely something like Limbo – which with it’s simplistic controls and slow pace feels like a devolution of the platformer gets wall to wall acclaim, another indication of the groupthink that permeates the gaming press.

      Look at the current obsession games websites have over point and click adventures – I downloaded the demo to Monkey Island last week cuz it was on special, it took me all of 5 minutes to delete the thing, it’s not my cup of tea – but you never find a dissenter in the chorus of reviewers who declare it the best thing since sliced bread!

      My solution is read a wide array of sources and to go in with the knowledge that these people play more games than I’ll ever see in my lifetime and therefore judge them more harshly than I as a consumer ever will.

  • I don’t pay attention to scores because from games to movies to books it’s only around a 50% chance the score is anything close to what I would give the item in question. I do pay some heed to actual reviews of games though whether they be a professional review on a game site like Kotaku or just what people who have played the game leave in comment sections. I always try and read multiple reviews from different people before I let it influence me.

    I’ve found reviews on video games are often a lot better then reviews on movies. The reviews on video games are made by people who actually care about games and try to be fair in their review even if the games in a genre they don’t normally like. Movie reviewers and critics on the other hand all like the same sort of thing and hate anything that differs from that even if it’s still a great film but not what they’re into. Also they don’t really come of as actually caring about the films they watch or movies in general.

  • I used to pay attention to them – but publications like Eurogamer can wax lyrical about a game and then only give it a 7/10 so it seems entirely arbitrary. I prefer the CVG/Gamespot method of listing the pros and cons given that every game is gonna appeal to different people – it seems more useful review when deciding to purchase.

  • I find scores hypothetically useful but practically useless given the fact that the numbers are still just an emotionally motivated subjective opinion.

    Does a score of 5/10 on graphics mean that a game is butt ugly with bad textures and tearing so bad you think it’ll break your TV/Monitor, does it mean it looks a bit cheap, does it mean it it has bugs in its rendering, does it mean that the art style is weirdly out of place no matter how good the result actually looks, does it mean that the graphics are average for this day and age (a pissy little “NEAR” photorealistic) but nothing spectacular? Likewise for gameplay is 10/10 the perfect game, a great game, a game that delivers exactly what it promises on the box or the result of copious bribes to corrupt reviewers?

    The other issue as other have said is the obvious bias towards the top of the scale. When was the last time ANYTHING was scored below 5/10? When a middle of the range score is only used when something is so massively flawed that its fundamentaly incapable of performing its stated task then the review scale is equally broken. The fact that idiots in suits use metacritic to make or infuence business decisions means that a formerly irrelevant opinion is suddenly stopping potentially good products being made and THAT needs to stop

  • I don’t like reviews at all, because what I value as important in a game doesn’t seem to factor into the scores at all. I will rate gt5 far higher than red dead redemption purely from a polish/bug standpoint, yet all the reviews are more about innovation. To me, if you don’t change anything in a sequel but make it prettier/smoother/bigger it shouldn’t be scored lower for not innovating, even though it’s a much better game. It just doesn’t make any sense…

  • Yeah I pay no attention to the score at all, I read through and see what the reveiwers opinions is of the game, and what they enjoyed and disliked. I prefer to know about the game, not what score its been given overall.

    If they have them or not, I’ll still read the review, so having them doesn’t hurt. I’d pay the same amount of attention to a scored review then I would to one without.

    Btw I totally thought this thread was about gameRscore 😛

  • I always check scores, but I always read them in context. While reading full reviews is always the best option, I really appreciate the score to allow me to quickly either ignore a game, or bring to my attention a game I might of otherwise ignored.

    I find the meta-scores more useful, as it is an averaging of a range of opinions. It is also good for checking out a “List of generally well-favoured games in a particular category” to look into further – I discovered Half Life 2 this way.

    As for individual reviews, I think the 5-star scale gives as much information that you need at a glance – Did the reviewer think the game was Crap/Poor/OK/Good/Great? If I want to know any more after that, then I read several reviews. Otherwise, I have saved myself a bunch of time reading about a shitty game.

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