For better and for worse, Metacritic and its aggregate review scoring system have become the established measurement of success within the gaming industry. That single all-powerful number attributed to any product represents the culmination of countless thousands of words by dozens of unique writers. Those digits can magically summon angry emails from PR representatives, determine salaries, sway the business practices of entire corporations, or bring them to their knees and shutter their doors.
GamesBeat has recently joined the select few members of the professional press whose game reviews will appear on Metacritic. We felt this would be a good time to openly address what that means for you as our reader and to shed some light on our overall review policy.
Whether a site incorporates a letter grade (A-F) rating system, a three- or five-star rating system, or any numerical alternative, Metacritic recalculates them to fit the constructs of a 100-point scale. Instead of fighting against this system, as some have futilely tried in the past, GamesBeat openly embraces a 100-point system and has long before joining Metacritic was a consideration.
The consensus at GamesBeat is that 100 points gives the most amount of freedom to accurately portray the reviewer’s thoughts on a game. Since our system directly mirrors that of Metacritic’s, there will never be any discrepancy in its interpretation, where we award a game a “good” score, and Metacritic calculated that as something much less.
We also take advantage of the whole 100-point scale. Because of this, our reviews may seem lower than the average at times (which undoubtedly seems to float in the 70-90+ range, with 70 being mediocre); this is not due to latent bias or an attempt to enter the cult of personality, but because we hold games and their developers up to a high standard. We simply want games to be as good as they can be, and at the very least to deliver on the promises that were made leading up to launch. The industry needs to push developers harder and hold them accountable for their questionable downloadable-content practices; for releasing half-finished, glitchy games; or for treating this art form with disrespect while audaciously holding their hands out expecting you to fork over $65 (or more) regardless.
Here are a few things that you can expect from us whenever you visit:
- Review code: GamesBeat only reviews final retail code — no debugs or preview builds. We review the same exact game you would purchase in the store, no exceptions.
- Completion: GamesBeat reviewers play the entire game through to the end, unless otherwise noted. In some cases, a game doesn’t really have a clear-cut ending, in which case we will play it until we feel as though we can properly dictate the full experience back to our readers.
- Thoroughness: In some cases, our review will be held until we have taken the full scope of the game into account. We are not in a race to be the first to publish but rather to provide the most genuine and thorough review possible.
- Experiential: Reviews are the opinion and experience of a single writer. Although a game like Skyrim may suffer from countless bugs and game-breaking glitches, if our reviewer was somehow able to navigate through his playthrough without encountering them, then those will not factor directly into the review or its score. We will, however, aggressively report them in news articles.
- Reviewed “as is”: On the other hand, if we do encounter something notable, such as broken multiplayer servers or other allegedly “temporary” issues, those will be indiscriminately factored into the review. That’s why we review retail games. It doesn’t matter if “a patch is coming,” and in many cases, the things devs or PR say will be fixed “soon” may never be addressed. Infamous case studies for such practices include Test Drive Unlimited 2 and continues to be the case with six-month-old games like Battlefield 3 and Skyrim.
We urge you to read the actual review before jumping down to the score. The two go hand-in-hand, and if you only look at the headline and the score, you’ll be doing a disservice to yourself, as well as the game and its creators. A 77 for an indie puzzle game isn’t the same as a 77 for an Xbox 360 role-playing game, for example, so it’s important to have that context.
GamesBeat realizes the immense responsibility we now have as reviewers, and we promise to uphold a trustworthy and incorruptible approach to reviews. We’ll never accept a helicopter ride to a swank hotel for a monitored review session, and we will never let advertising get remotely close to mixing with editorial. This is true of all of VentureBeat, not just GamesBeat.
Lastly, reviews are just one person’s opinion. This is the age of free trials, betas, downloadable demos, and gameplay videos; reviews can help supplement your game-purchasing activity, but there are so many tools at your disposal to help build an informed opinion that you shouldn’t feel the need to rely on anyone else to get there. Our aim is for GamesBeat to more accurately convey the voice of the people, but ultimately, the loudest voice — and the only one that matters — is yours.
We hope you’ll come and share it at GamesBeat whenever you have the chance.
-The GamesBeat Team
Sebastian Haley, Reviews Editor
Dean Takahashi, Lead Writer
Dan Hsu, Editor-in-Chief