Review Scores Are Broken -- Here Are Some Sensible Solutions

Reviews score eh? First there was the outcry over Eurogamer's 8/10 Uncharted 3 review (a review that I personally really enjoyed reading) and then Gamespot's 7.5/10 for Skyward Sword. Bloody review scores — everyone knows they're broken. Kotaku reader and GameTaco stalwart Smoolander has some top notch ideas about how we change them!

We Need A New Review Score

Review scores are broken.

I know this because the internet told me, and the internet has never led me astray before. There are so many examples of broken reviews amongst the plethora of games recently released that I am currently going deaf due to the shrieking of “SHILL” on every second web page.

Many people have come out in defence of review scores, blaming the public for misunderstanding them, and others have pointed the finger at the clearly biased people who assign them. Undeniably, to any partial observer, this whole situation is now a complete catastrophe that if left unchecked will tear a hole in the very fabric of space and suck the entire internet into it.

Some people have tried to offer helpful suggestions as to how to fix the problem - Matt at Australian Gamer provided some advice to assist dodgy reviewers - yet everything that has been put forward still relates to the current method of scoring games.

This is a vicious scenario and for the gaming community to fix it we need to take drastic action. We need to throw out the current way we rate a game and devise a new fool proof rating scheme that will be above criticism. While everyone has been throwing pointless arguments into the void, thankfully I have been formulating new methods that will be above reproach.

Now we only need to agree which of the three perfect systems should be adopted and all our issues on the internet will be solved.

The Orwellian Score Named after the brilliant man himself, George Orwell, this scoring system ensures that everybody will be happy. Using a patented 10 to 15 point rating scale, it acknowledges that every game is perfect, but some games are more perfect than others.

Even if another game scores higher than your new favourite game, your new favourite game is still perfect. Nobody loses. Publishes are happy, fans are happy, and reviewers can’t possibly get it wrong.

The Sir David Attenborough Score Sir David Attenborough is a highly respected man throughout the world, and it is obvious the love that he has for the animals and vegetation of this planet. So what better way to score games than by implementing a system that would be equally as respected and loving as Sir Attenborough?

No more howls of derision when a game “only” receives an 8/10, instead everyone will be required to look at games in the same loving way that Sir Attenborough looks at nature and assign each game the score of an animal. In scientific terms.

“I award this game an Archinida Scorpionida”. “This game is nothing short of a Camelus Camelidae”.

This scoring system includes the bonus of Sir David Attenborough narrating video reviews of games himself. How can this not be the perfect method that we should adopt?

The Healthy Score Similar to the Sir David Attenborough scoring system, this review method will adopt a much healthier approach to game scores and remove those negative stereotypes about gamers being unfit and overweight.

We’re all encouraged to consume five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit each day by nutritionists. What better way to achieve this than to rate every game with a vegetable or fruit. Your game playing each day contributes to your health.

There would be nothing more exciting than reading a two thousand word review only to see a conclusion of “This game thoroughly deserves a Cumquat” or “The game has some faults but it really is a Passion Fruit”.

This scoring method also has the added benefit of receiving the National Heart Foundations “Tick of Approval”. Anytime your Mum or partner complains about the time spent playing games, just hold up that game box and point out the big red tick on the front and proclaim “I’m just being healthy”.

There they are. Three perfect methods for scoring games that could not possibly contain any flaws. Now we just need to act in the civilised manner that is so common on the internet and decide which of these should be adopted by the gaming community.


    If they used the whole scale instead of just the top end, we wouldn't be in this mess.

    Too many games are given cumquats when they're really just bananas. If we called a banana game a banana every time, people wouldn't be outraged but instead they expect a banana to be called a cumquat.

    Worst of all, grapes are just completely neglected for anything that even barely functions when there are plenty of games that deserve to be left at that end of the scale.

    Gamespot's review of Skyward Sword was interesting. Although I found it interesting that they started penalizing Zelda games for being too samey with the release of Skyward Sword. Why not start 10 years ago?

      Cos it's cool to hate Nintendo right now

        Or rather, people have snapped out of the mindset that "everything that Nintendo makes is A++++ god-tier"... during the reign of the Wii, they could've farted in a can and people would've lined up around the corner to sniff it.

          Which is what Cod is also doing now. It's samey, but no one cares. Plus they continue to refine it and experiment with it in small ways. There's no denying that they're good games though.
          btw, just want to add, i am not a fanboy, i also have a ps3 and a 360

          I still prefer Kotaku's Liked and Dislike approach. I think it's best X3

      Quote from the same author: "Mega Man 10 - The 10th installment in this long-running franchise proves that some formulas don't need to change". Nothing like consistency. But his review has people talking and presumably getting the site traffic, so it seems like it worked.

    Why not just do something like YouTube did with the Like/Dislike system and go with a 'Yes, this game is worth playing' or 'No, it's not worth playing'.

    Simple. :)

      Too simple.

      My plan, if I ever write reviews, is to roll a D20 and the score will be half of what I roll.

        Before you start your review you have to roll for initiative.

          hmmm....paladium RPG ranked games score critical hits...LOL


    My brother just entered the room while I was watching Gamespot's 'Skyward Sword' review.
    He asked, "What did it get?".
    I replied, "A 7.5.'
    He stormed out of the room repeating the word "bullshit" several times.
    He did not watch any of the review.

    THIS is what is wrong with review scores.

      I have a point to make in the assumption your brother has not played Skyward Sword (if he has, ignore it).

      That is not what is wrong with reviewers & scores, that is what is wrong with gamers/fanboys. He has never played the game so why is it bullshit that it could be a 7.5 game?
      It is not at all inconceivable that a game is not as good as previous versions or not as good as it is hyped to be.
      Not everyone likes Uncharted, or Halo, or Mario therefore it is not out of the realm of possibility that this reviewer sees it as a 7.5 game.

      The real problem with review is they are inconsistent and some are clearly bought (GTAIV). I've read reviews where points are deducted for being 'too innovative' or 'uses the same tired formula' whereas others are praises for the exact same thing.

        I think you're misunderstanding me.

        The problem is a 7.5 is considered bad by many people.

        It would be between a three-and-a-half to four star rating, which is considered "good" in film and music.

    This is hilarious! Well done Smoolander, great article. 11/10 ;)

    The fanboys will never change unfortunately. Sure they grow up but two more take their place. Frankly I'm content to leave them in their holes arguing over which identical fps is marginally better than another identical fps. I'll be playing games that interest me.

    This is the reason I prefer scoreless reviews sometimes. Then again, when reading a review, I focus more on the pros and cons stated rather than the score at the end.

      Thats a good idea actually - ditch the score but keep the pros/cons +/- and let the reader decide for themself.

        If only there was a website that reviewed games like this....... :P

    I think there should be a scale that goes to the negatives. -8 to you damnation. You have sullied my Gamertag as I can not erase you from it.

    Great article. Nearly thought I was on

    There's also the Fonzie System: the longer the "Ey!" the better the game.

      I agree with this system. Leather jackets are optional.

        Skyrim: Eyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.... Eyyyyyyyyyyyy.

    Reviews are and always have been "opinion pieces".

    I seldom base game purchases on raw scores, but rather the argument presented by the reviewer.

    There are people who simply won't like what others agree is a "perfect" game.

    That's perfectly fine.

    What isn't fine is people simply blindly following reviewers without digging down to figure out what exactly they're expecting.

    Read several reviews, try to get an accurate impression of the pro's and con's and make an informed decision.

    I liked the gamespot review.

    And I like the Orwellian system. It amused me greatly.

      Don't get me wrong: if Skyward Sword plays as they say it does and works as similarly to other Zelda titles, I would agree with the score. I definitely enjoyed reading the review though.

      Also +1 for the Fonzie system.

    This might not be perfect but I like the 4 star review system.
    1 = Very crappy, nobody should touch this or you will perish
    2 = A decent game, might be worth a spin if you are a fan of the franchise or the genre
    3 = A well made game in many aspects albeit some notable flaws but still it's a great game overall
    4 = Not necessarily perfection but games don't get much better than this, a truly magnificent title

      O rhow bout just a 1 or 0?

    "Sir David Attenborough narrating video reviews of games"

    Fund it!

    What we really need is a scoring system where the median isn't 7/10, where people realise that 5/10 is 'average' and not a terrible stinker, and where people *actually read the text of the reviews* and also stop deriving all the meaning in their life from whether or not some guy on the internet agrees with their predefined opinion of the game they haven't played yet.

    I think review scores are worthless. I say do away with them entirely. I feel that there has been an inflation problem in scoring, with 7 becoming the new 3. If a AAA title gets anything below an 8 it's an outrage, when in reality an 8 should represent an almost flawless experience. So I would recommend doing away with scores and focus on a well thought out and constructed review analyzing and highlighting pros and cons in an objective manner. This approach would do away with shitstorms generated by a single digit and hopefully spark intelligent analysis and response from consumers.

    I liked the system used at Ars Technicas game column. Buy, Rent, Skip.

    It used to be a mid range score 50 or 5/10 was average, middle of the road affair. with a 6 or 7 being a above average.

    Scores are pretty BS these days. When I read a review. I want to know what is right AND what is wrong with it. I've been burnt in the past. Especially on PC ports. (some PC reviews, Aren't.) Sometimes there are issues that don't get a mention you have to go the forums to find out.

    Word of mouth always wins in the end...

    I base reviews towards a percentage of how much money you should pay for the game new. If it scores an 8/10 then the game is worth about 80% of the asking price.

    you know the reviews i seam to like the most.....
    Kotaku "gut check" articles
    They pointed me toward rayman origin = AWESOME GAME
    thanks for that Kotaku, keep it up

      You're kidding right? Gut checks are the worst.

        not in raymans origins case.....i'll keep a track of them and see if my call is correct

        if not then i want David Attenborough reviews!

    I would pay to see David Attenborough review something like Skyrim.

    I would prefer to see reviews be ended with pros and cons rather than an overall score.

    Alternatively reviewers could have their own unbiased opinion but that'll never happen.

    I love the Orwellian approach best. @Bluemaxx the gut check articles are great but be sure to read them as some of the writers may not have played the game and are basing their opinions on preview footage.

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