Add Deus Ex and Epic Mickey creator Warren Spector to the list of people who think the video game industry should stop caring so much about Metacritic.
In his column for GamesIndustry.biz this week, Spector goes after Metacritic, a website that aggregates review scores for movies and video games and ranks them with a single number, or Metascore. Spector criticises the video game publishers and developers that treat those Metascores like holy numbers and use them to affect bonuses and contracts.
“Metacritic, at best, rewards games that are conventional and well understood by players and critics alike,” Spector writes. “New and challenging things are, by their very nature, disruptive and easily misunderstood. Aggregation of opinion, at best, offers hope and guidance to people whose goal is to maximise profitability but little to people whose priorities lie elsewhere or who depend on the constancy and relative predictability of the status quo.”
Spector’s column is smart, and worth reading. It also doesn’t touch upon one important point: both video game publishers and developers manipulate Metacritic scores to serve their own goals. The problems with Metacritic’s influence on the game industry — even beyond the flawed idea that a game’s quality can be summed up with a number — are deep and entrenched.
For more, check out our in-depth investigation into the serious flaws of how the video game industry uses Metacritic.