Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The problem with review scores

If there's one thing I've really noticed in the last year after posting reviews and reading tons of reviews, there's definitely a problem with review scores. Several problems actually.

First of all, one of the main problems is that there's not a standard for scoring a game. Let's say Website A and Website B both score out of 10 (just to make it a bit simpler). Yet Website A's average score is somewhere around a 7.0 or a 7.5. On the other hand if a game got a 5.0 from Website B it'd be considered average. Since different sites use different review scales, it becomes hard to tell if they like the game, hate it, or think it's mediocre without reading the review. And once you get different point scales such as out of 5 or 100, it makes reviews almost incomparable, since the more leeway you're allowed to score (such as .5's versus .1's) the more opinion's will seem to differ. Lately I don't even pay attention to Metacritic for this very reason. The fact that websites and magazines use different review scales makes the exact number Metacritic assigns inaccurate and meaningless.

My second problem is more of a pet peeve than a real ordeal. Assigning a sole number to sum up a review makes that review meaningless to a lot of people. These said people will just scroll to the bottom, read the score, and leave the review. Which is definitely not the point. I really wish these people could just sit through a reading of a review. The writer put a lot of their time, effort, and play time into the idea of writing it. The most you can do is read the review. Even if you don't have time or can't concentrate, can't you at least read the final couple of paragraph? You know, the ones that summarize the entire review so you don't have to read it? Those ones.

Also the number assigned makes people think, "Oh, they scored Game A a 9.4 but Game B a 9.3. Game A is must be better." It's hard enough coming up with a review score; it's not like reviewers look through every single review they've written and compare the game to those. Which brings me to my next point, on big sites like IGN and (R.I.P.) different reviewers review different games. So that all adds up to different opinions of different genres of different games. Which can then deem the score meaningless. Overall this means the score is very unimportant in my eyes. What is important is the written review.

So what am I getting at with these ramblings? I've used this post to do two things: #1. Voice my opinion on why I feel review scores are flawed. And #2. Announce that I'll be ditching scores in my reviews from now on. 2009 is a new era for World 1-1 reviews! I started thinking about this when I first ditched all the scores besides the overall. Then I decided, even the overall score could be interpreted in so many different ways that I'm better off just writing the review. Don't worry, if you're still tempted to scroll to the bottom, at least read the "Overall Thoughts" paragraph. It'll take you somewhere from ten to thirty seconds and it's a much better alternative to scores (at least in my humble opinion). And it's this paragraph that'll matter to people the most anyway, since it's there I voice my final opinion and whether or not you should buy, rent, or skip the game.

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1 comment:

  1. This is why you have to be cautious with review aggregate sites, too. :(