Nintendo Really Likes Metacritic

Nintendo Really Likes Metacritic

This is actually rather sad. At an investor’s meeting today, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata talked a lot about how great Nintendo’s Metacritic scores are — even going as far as to brag that Nintendo’s current releases have higher Metacritic numbers than Sony’s or Microsoft’s.

Um, congrats?

Keep in mind that Iwata is talking to boring investor types. That, and this Metacritic chest thumping is depressing.

Nintendo Really Likes Metacritic

Here’s Iwata:

Nintendo of America posted this picture on its official Facebook page at the end of last year.

It shows a list of packaged game titles that received a Metascore of 85 or more and a User Score of 8.5+ or more on, which we can admit received high scores both from the professional reviewers and consumers.

For Nintendo’s current platforms, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, 19 titles met these criteria. In contrast, the current platforms of other companies, PS4, Xbox One and PS Vita, totaled eight titles.

In short, Nintendo games are better than Sony or Microsoft games, because Metacritic said so. Or something.

Back to Iwata:

When a brand-new title is released, there are often misconceptions at the outset, so I would not take the Metascores and User Scores as the absolute tell-all index, but I do want us to do our best to release such highly evaluated titles in succession.

THANK GOODNESS! He’s not buying the hype. He knows that Metacritic is brokennonsense that actually hurts video games.

Wait. Didn’t he say he just wants to release more games with high Metacritic scores?

More Iwata:

In fact, software available on our platforms continues to be reviewed highly even after the turn of the year. The two software titles which were released simultaneously with the New Nintendo 3DS hardware in the U.S. and Europe, “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D” and “Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate,” received the very high Metascores of 90 and 86 and User Scores of 9.5 and 8.9, respectively.

Oh shit. He’s actually rattling off Metacritic scores. In public.

Compared to the Metascore of 79 —

Iwata. Dude. Stop.

— which the prequel in the “Monster Hunter” series, “Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate,” received, we can understand that this most recent iteration is very highly reviewed.

Yuck, Nintendo. Just yuck.


    • Isn’t it clear what he prefers? That they not use Metacritic, a broken and largely unrepresentative scoring system, as a performance indicator.

      • Except the issue is that it’s only broken and unrepresentative as far as the quality of the games are concerned.

        It’s generally a rather decent metric for performance, exactly the kind of thing you’d want to brag to shareholders about. Games with high metacritic scores sell better, they have lots of games with high metacritic scores.

        The issues with metacritic are that it’s too effective on the business side, and favours safe bets (ie Nintendo first party titles =P) whilst stifling creativity and forcing objective reviews into a format that can be used as a performance metric.

        Fixing metacritic is about removing it’s ability to be used as a performance metric, not that it can’t be used as one.

        • I understand what you’re getting at, but there are general issues with Metacritic beyond its use as a quality indicator. It needs a good overhaul, starting with its overall score algorithm. I covered some problems with user score aggregates in general in a post further down the page too – I think they’re never going to be a reliable indicator of anything the way they are at the moment. At least Steam adds an extra layer of information by showing how many hours the user has actually played the game before writing their review.

          • That’s not a game-only issue though. The reason why no one can conclusively say Citizen Kane/The Godfather/Shawshank as ‘the best movie ever’ is because there’s no unanimity. How would one even quantify that? IMDB? Rotten Tomatoes? Empire voting? Every one brings its own pitfalls and the Metacritic system of aggregating known review websites is about as close as we can get, though even that’s flawed (personally, I think they should cull any platform-specific website and suspect ‘100’ scores). Iwata is addressing investors and there’s no shame in having broad appeal.

          • I agree it’s not a problem unique to games, though I’ve personally never seen people so salty and vindictive about trashing a rating as some seem to get over video games they’ve decided they don’t like.

            As for how you’d quantify it, sales are the only thing that matters at the end of the day, especially to investors. They don’t care if the game was rated 7.5 or 10 as long as it moved units and made a lot of income. If you want critical analysis, I’d leave it to professional critics who will (on average at least) tend to give a more considered response to a game or movie than “RMAH is Hitler incarnate fuck blizzard 0/10”.

  • Hey investors – this site aggregates review scores – we are making awesome games. People buy awesome games.

    What is he meant to tell them? This is a decent way to convey your quality to non gamers.

    • “Hi investors, I was going to cover how highly rated our games have been, but the current state of review aggregation sites and systems have fundamental issues that people disagree with, so I am unable to do that for you. Please understand.”

  • Of course they do. High critical acclaim is one of the cornerstones of their business model. Metacritic ratings may not be the best method for judging quality but in this case it’s pretty valid.

  • My own opinions on some wii u games being hyped more than they deserved aside, this article is a bit silly. I agree that metacritic is broken but the industry is still using it. Devs are still signing publishing deals with metcritic clauses in them, publishers are still hiring based on metacritic scores, metacritic scores are still a part of the industry so why wouldn’t Nintendo use any positive press they can during a conference like this?

  • Nintendo has struggled and had non-gamer investors try to push them to the mobile game market. When they see companies like King and Rovio making billions and Nintendo posting losses they lose confidence. He’s just using Metacritic to give those people back that confidence in their product. I don’t see a problem with what he said, how many gamers use a Metacritic score to choose whether to buy a game or not?

  • I think Iwata was misrepresenting the situation. PS4 has 21 games that are 85+ on metacritic (although only 1 is 8.5+ user rated) –

    Xbox One has 15 games that are 85+ on metacritic (although none 8.5+ user rated) –

    PS Vita has 23 games that are 85+ on metacritic (of which 7 have 8.5+ user rating) –

    He can’t be counting exclusives only because he’s counted Bayonetta and Rayman Legends…

    The bottom line is, Nintendo owners are passionate about Nintendo games. Nothing we didn’t already know. Let’s not get into how disgruntled users bomb metacritic to skew the user ratings down on opposing platforms or for games they don’t own but hate for some reason.

    Ergo, Iwata engaging in statistical manipulation knowing full well that the commercial situation is very different. If Nintendo games are so good then why do we only ever see Smash or Mario Kart placing on the NPD rankings? The answer, Nintendo games are generally a niche market. Nothing wrong with that.

      • Exactly, so here we have Nintendo as a publisher saying that whilst Activision, EA, Ubisoft and 2K might sell millions more games than it does (because they sell over multiple platforms with a massive combined install base), at least Nintendo’s games make metacritic users happy. It’s a pretty cheeky statement to use on investors to be honest. I think Iwata was hoping to bamboozle them. As an investor, you’d be better advised to invest in one of the aforementioned publishers if you actually wanted to make money, rather than make metacritic users happy.

  • Keep in mind that Iwata is talking to boring investor types.

    Good job keeping that in mind. In any case, maybe try writing something worthwhile next time. Seems like your main aim was to let everyone know how much you dislike metacritic scores. Oh, look at me, I’m a white knight who stands up against the evil that is metacritic!

  • Typical junk journalism.

    When Xbox and PS are dominating metacritic: “Xbox and PS have the best games, let’s all jizz all over ourselves”

    When nintendo is dominating metacritic: “Let’s all roll our eyes at how crappy Nintendo is”

        • Fair enough. I don’t remember seeing them use Metacritic like that for praise but they may have if it was that far back. It seems they’ve changed their view of Metacritic since then.

    • Metacritic is just one metric used for marketing purposes which is otherwise useless.

      When MS temporarily dropped the xbone price JUST to report that they “won” the Black Friday sales, that was celebrated by Microsoft and kotaku alike, even though it was paid marketing and entirely pointless to the quality of games.

      Nintendo should be allowed to chest thump as much as the next guy. Every company has a room full of people dedicated to generating favourable facts, why waste them?

    • Nintendo’s not dominating Metacritic, that’s the point.

      They’ve double counted their own games where ever possible while not double counting others (ie GTA V isn’t TWO top games across Xbone and PS4, Smash Brothers is on both WiiU and 3DS, 3 Zelda games are remakes ect.)

      The 3DS essentially has a market to itself (MS doesn’t have a handheld and the Vita is pretty shit), and it makes up more than half of the Nintendo titles and has been on the market for nearly double the time the PS4 and the Xbone have been on the market COMBINED.

      Nintendo are always going to trundle out 1-2 good/great games (over 85% isn’t exactly a classic) a year on the WiiU and probably 3-4 on the 3DS, plus it’s a touch silly to take a console (the WiiU) that’s really at its absolute peak and compare it to two consoles which are only now starting to see the first “new-gen” specific titles hit the shelves.

      The end of 2015 will represent around the same period in the Xbones life cycle that the 360 got Bioshock, Halo 3, Mass Effect, the Orange Box and Assassins Creed. I say we wait and see what the future of the new-gen consoles looks like at the end of the year before we start trying to draw overarching conclusions about a consoles success from such a blunt instrument (metacritic).

      Nintendo would be best to focus on doing what they did during the N64/ Gamecube era where they released far less “good” games than the opposition but also released 2-3 games that were absolute must-play classics, rather than pumping out remakes because they know they’ll get a +85 score on metacritic.

      • The favourable requirements set by Nintendo of 8.5 User score are not met by the “Current Gen” versions of GTA V. They range from 7.9 – 8.4 I believe. Upon further examination, they aren’t met by past gen versions either.

  • Nintendo games represent everything that’s wrong with Metacritic. Despite the fact that Nintendo only make unambitious and unoriginal games, they consistently get crazy high metascores because they are executed well.

    • Well that’s the thing isn’t it. Originality, innovation or even what would be considered a “new” game aren’t necessary for a game to be considered good and review well. It’s because they execute these re-hashed ideas so well that they are achieving these scores.

      • I’d rather have a flawed but ambitious title over a “flawless” 8th-quel any day of the week. But metascores don’t reflect that at all.

  • I think it’s a perfectly reasonable marketing tool. Metacritic is of course not perfect, but it is generally a good system to get an overview of a game from many different sources. However, that scores have been used as a means of dictating a developers bonuses/income is a gross misuse of what it is intended to be- a guide for gamers. Though with some review sites now dropping traditional scoring systems, if this continues, we may see its influence and relevance begin to dwindle.

  • I would’ve thought that including the user score would make it a bit more valid a measure than just going off review sites alone.

    Besides, there’s a difference between a company saying “if you fall one tenth of a point short of this exact score on metacritic you don’t get a bonus” and saying “hey, we seem to get a lot of games that score well with both reviewers and the general public”.

    Just because you can’t lick your finger and put it in the air to tell the exact wind speed you’re getting doesn’t mean you can’t figure out the general direction it’s traveling in.

    • The user score is worse than the review score, for accuracy. A lot of people rate 0 on games they’ve never played because they don’t like one tiny part of what they heard about the game before it launched. Then there are the fanboys (both for and against), the marketing sockpuppets and a laundry list of other issues that basically mean user score is almost worthless. Diablo 3 was a good example. The game was pretty decent, all things considered, with a few poor design decisions that had the user ratings flooded with 0 scores from people who never even played it, because they were protesting the RMAH.

      I’m of the view that you can’t get a feel for how the users feel about a game by going to an aggregator like Metacritic. You need to invest a bit more time than that and look at the actual content of conversations and forum posts and such about the game online.

  • He should have said “I read on kotaku that it’s better than civ 5 with the brave new world expansion pack”

  • Is anyone else surprised at the baffling number of people posting that seemed to miss the point that metacritic is an unreliable indicator of quality and replaced it with “Nintendo should make bad games”.

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