Why We're Using Review Scores

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While I also dislike review scores, at least The Escapist is committed to backing up the score with actual reasoning. Nothing is more frustrating that to see a review marked "85/100" that doesn't say anything, good or bad. I want to know why you docked or gave points! An don't even think about using "cinematic" or "compelling"...

Echolocating:
Well, to "long time listeners" this isn't a surprise. But you have to promise that when you start to make too much money, you'll return to your roots and go back to a weekly publication with that stylish magazine layout. That was the cat's ass and still would be. ;-)

SECONDED!

We know you guys had fun making that anniversary edition... wouldn't it be grand?

I know the REAL reason. Its cause they want to get on metacritic.com and influence the score!

Poomanchu745:
I know the REAL reason. Its cause they want to get on metacritic.com and influence the score!

No, dude. The ACTUAL, REAL reason is that I'm setting the stage for an eventual Gerstmann-style flameout. Stay tuned. It'll be awesome!!

"Ubisoft wants us to give them WHAT SCORE? Not gonna happen! Not on my watch! Burn the place down, boys! We're going out IN STYLE!"

Something tells me that Mr. Pitts in that article mentioning about publishers persuading to change scores.

Maybe I should type about Dan Hsu's legacy about his editorial integrity for the Escapist article.

On a serious note though, I enjoy Escapist Magazine reviews and their fine detailed summary of what this game is about, how flawed the game is and why you should/shouldn't buy it. But if you must place the scores system, doesn't change a thing but I'm a bit disappointed that The Escapist is the next GameSpot, IGN or even that lam bast magazine Gamepro that gives high scores like candy.

As long as you resist "GameSpot syndrome" and don't receive ethically questionable compensation from game companies whose products you examine, I'm all for review scores. The five-star system works great.

I don't really have a problem with this, as long as you don't start giving 4 and a quarter stars or something. Personally, I only ever look at the score a game gets when I'm not really interested in it or I just want a general idea of how it did. An example of this is Dark Void. The only review of it I've seen has been the Gametrailers one, which is a video review and that's only because I watched it for a laugh and couldn't really be bothered to read about a game that's apparently been disappointing all around and I have no interest in anyway.

If say, Dark Void had started getting 9's and 10's everywhere, I would be more compelled to read the reviews, so I think scores DO help, but should NOT be the focus. The review should be the main focus, communicating an opinion about a game in a way that shows you have a deep understanding of the game, knowledge of its flaws, its weaknesses and mentioning who will and who won't like said game.

/For The Love Of The Game

Well after reading the comments on the Dante's Inferno review can't say I'm exactly looking foward to a score system. But thats nothing liberal use of the ban hammer can't solve Personally I thought the whole reccomend don't recommend system worked fine. As long it's still the same Escapist I'm fine with it.

So long as the reviews remain as thorough and clear as they are now, that's alright with me.

Kwil:
A foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but I've yet to see any reasoning suggesting that consistency on this issue was foolish in any manner.

Really? Look around for some other commercial game review outlets that don't offer scores and tell me what you find. I'll wait.

Big deal, so they want to plug the escapist on metacritic and similar sites, good for them, I for one am always happy to see quality work rewarded so why not use al the means available to promote your good work. As long as the content stays the same and they still employ the same level of criticism that the readers have come to expect I doubt anyone will constider this a sellout.

The apologetic tone of the article was really amusing, all that "times are changing and we must change with it" stuff sounded to me like "we're not selling out, we're not selling, out we're not selling out". It just sounded too dramatic given the subject matter.

That beeing said i would love to be around at the meeting when you try to convince Yahtzee to get in line with this new policy.

CD-R:
Well after reading the comments on the Dante's Inferno review can't say I'm exactly looking foward to a score system. But thats nothing liberal use of the ban hammer can't solve Personally I thought the whole reccomend don't recommend system worked fine. As long it's still the same Escapist I'm fine with it.

Um...we haven't reviewed Dante's Inferno yet.

Russ Pitts:

Poomanchu745:
I know the REAL reason. Its cause they want to get on metacritic.com and influence the score!

No, dude. The ACTUAL, REAL reason is that I'm setting the stage for an eventual Gerstmann-style flameout. Stay tuned. It'll be awesome!!

"Ubisoft wants us to give them WHAT SCORE? Not gonna happen! Not on my watch! Burn the place down, boys! We're going out IN STYLE!"

Haha o damn! Just start taking money from like every big game developer and for about 2 months give em GREAT scores. Then get a LOT of money for advertising and then let the bottom drop out and make off like a bandit with all that money. That would be pro!

Its your magazine, you can do whatever the hell you please.

I read the Bioshock2 review before I saw this article and went cross-eyed for a moment. "What, a SCORE?". Awwww, the Escapist has sold out . . . .

. . . kidding. I personally don't think it really matters. I'll still read the Escapist for the articles, not the scores.

I notice that Yahtzee has yet to jump on the bandwagon. I think he should, if only for the amusement of me seeing the first scores in the gaming industry using negative numbers

Russ Pitts:

Kwil:
A foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but I've yet to see any reasoning suggesting that consistency on this issue was foolish in any manner.

Really? Look around for some other commercial game review outlets that don't offer scores and tell me what you find. I'll wait.

I will as soon as you look around for some other commercial game review outlets that have been growing as fast and as successfully as the Escapist without this shift and tell me what you find.

I mean, did it ever occur to you that part of the reason for the Escapists' success is that it isn't (which is increasingly becoming wasn't) like all the other sites? I mean, if you want to take it that way, well, hell, you're the boss. Go ahead, and more power to you. I'm just sad that somewhere along the way, I'll probably find I'm no longer interested in taking the trip with you.

Kwil:

Russ Pitts:

Kwil:
A foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but I've yet to see any reasoning suggesting that consistency on this issue was foolish in any manner.

Really? Look around for some other commercial game review outlets that don't offer scores and tell me what you find. I'll wait.

I will as soon as you look around for some other commercial game review outlets that have been growing as fast and as successfully as the Escapist without this shift and tell me what you find.

I mean, did it ever occur to you that part of the reason for the Escapists' success is that it isn't (which is increasingly becoming wasn't) like all the other sites? I mean, if you want to take it that way, well, hell, you're the boss. Go ahead, and more power to you. I'm just sad that somewhere along the way, I'll probably find I'm no longer interested in taking the trip with you.

Yowza! Fightin' words!

image

Anyway, I suppose I deserved that for answering your point with my own sass. What I should have said was this:

The reasoning is clear if you look for it. I.e. the smoking hole where the outlets who didn't use scores used to be. Will we end up like them if we don't make this change? I don't think so - most had bigger problems than just a lack of scores - but the industry is clearly moving toward scores and we would be fools to ignore that. Some industry standards are unavoidable. This is one, and as part of our strategy of continuing to grow, be successful and eat, I for one welcome the change.

Ultimately, as a reader, you must decide what matters most to you. I support your right to choose. I hope that the addition of a thing that's easily ignored is something our readers can accept, even if they are opposed to it, if that thing in some way or another allows us to continue making the other things that they do enjoy. If, however, they - or you - decide that's a bridge too far, then I wish you luck and thank you for supporting us as long as you did!

Thanks guys. not that your implementing scores, but that even when you do that your keeping the review reviews still here. Always mark me in the win column. And as Yahtzee says:
image

Oh and to the idiots arguing in the post above me. I prefer my written reviews, although stars will help me relate the good reviews to other folks. In case you didn't know the amazing reviews on the escapist are next to impossible to sum-up in a few words.

I actually didn't notice there were scores, because I've been reading the reviews.

That said; numeric scores might help those reviews become indexed in those sites that do such things. If that helps raise the profile of the Escapist then good; I can only hope it will raise the dialog about games as well.

I am firmly against a score that's easily looked upon and makes the escapist seem to compete on the same level as IGN, or any other website that metacritic is privy to.

While I understand the main two issues with it, as well as the need for Escapist to change, it continues to irk me how everything seems to be so similar. Now that I'm finished ranting, I'll respond to the article:

In the past it has been our policy that raw numerical data is irrelevant to the process of reviewing games, and so we invested our energies instead to delivering the highest-quality experiential reviews that we could, offering, instead of a score, a taste of how it feels to actually play the game. Today, however, we find that raw data is becoming increasingly more relevant to how reviews are consumed. Entire industries have spawned to chew on review data and spin it into meta-data, and readers have clamored for this information. The game industry itself has attempted to reward quality in game development by tying product royalties to review data. While this latest effort is beset with problems, it does point to an overall trend that shows no signs of changing course.

I have to ask, what is it about a scoring system that makes a game worthy of play? FFX received a 10 at the time of its review through Play magazine. But was it worth it? Was it worth a brief glimpse into a game that impressed the reviewers in the first 30 minutes to 3 hours?

In the end, when I played it, I don't feel it was worth the absolute best score in regards to an RPG. Tidus whined like a school girl, Kimahri's Ultimate Weapon was a pain in the keister, and dodging the lightning 200x was annoying even with the pause button. I received a fair amount of time out of the sidequests, but there was no limit to the linearity and nothing like Jade Empire, which would come later.

I just don't see how review data is doing anything but attracting an incentive for people to focus only on the first few hours and leave the end to whoever they want. All in the name of a good review score.

The first criticism is that review scores can provide game publishers leverage to use against us in order to coerce us into compromising our editorial ideals. A publisher could, for example, threaten us in some way if we offer a review score lower than what they feel they've earned.

I know this is true. We've seen it happen over and over again. Fortunately for us, The Escapist was founded in the belief that our editorial integrity is sacred, and that no publisher will have the right to dictate what we can and can't say about a game. I'm pleased to say that, to this date, we have an unblemished record in this regard, and I don't expect that to ever change.

To this firstly, Thank you. No one should have the right to pull ads simply because their game sucked. Kane and Lynch comes to mind and the horrible ordeal that game caused. Though it's not right, I love the fact that game makers happen to be hypocrites when they can't take a few bad scores.

Secondly, I have to ask for constant vigilance in this regard. It's a slippery slope when you give in once. I would severely hate to give up a magazine that I hold to be fairly high on great editorials.

Though I'm concerned, I'll take a "wait and see" approach to this. It seems fairly reasonable that there may be growing pains with this new system, even if I feel it's not necessarily right for Escapist (IMO)

Good call, and for the right reason. Metacritic is a good way to put yourself out there. If someone writes and insightful little blurb on Metacritic, I'm pretty likely to check out the whole site, and then decide if I like it or not.

Way back when I ran a web site where I discussed mountain bike trails. Though it was intended to be commentary, I did assign scores. There are times the flavor of the description, though accurate, just doesn't match the overall impression of the subject, and then a score helps to balance things out. Nothing like a little left brain to balance out the right brain.

Susan Arendt:

CD-R:
Well after reading the comments on the Dante's Inferno review can't say I'm exactly looking foward to a score system. But thats nothing liberal use of the ban hammer can't solve Personally I thought the whole reccomend don't recommend system worked fine. As long it's still the same Escapist I'm fine with it.

Um...we haven't reviewed Dante's Inferno yet.

Whoops. I meant to say after reading some of the comments on the Dante's Inferno review on IGN.

Such a fuss over a little thing. I myself find it much more pleasing to watch a video supplement to a game before going the trouble of reading a written review. If the video supplement doesn't interest me then I usually completely skip the written review. Review scores by their nature are suspect of way too much interpretation. How much emphasis this the reviewer give this or that part of the game experience? How much of the score is based on personal bias? Is the reviewer trying to make a statement with a particular score? So many questions that can be attached to a simple numerical value that has fairly little consequence to me.

Truth be told I think the Escapist delivers the best game reviews and if you choose to add a score or not is entirely your decision and something that doesn`t really affect me in any way.
As long as:

1.The video supplements keep coming with each review I`m happy.
2.The smart opinions are present in all reviews.
3.Never, ever, ever use the phrase "headshots are rewarding" or some other two bit random shit like that. Meaning don`t go Gamespot on us because we come here to get away from there.

I believe that once there will be a game so superior that no further commentary than "go play the fuck out of it!" in addition to 5 stars will be needed.

Something doesn't add up. Two reasons against scores. No real reason for implementing them. Answer?

No worries, though. I love this site, and i don't think you'll lose business by adding scores.

...Maybe that's the answer.

Russ Pitts:
[b]The first criticism is that review scores can provide game publishers leverage to use against us in order to coerce us into compromising our editorial ideals. A publisher could, for example, threaten us in some way if we offer a review score lower than what they feel they've earned.

I know this is true. We've seen it happen over and over again. Fortunately for us, The Escapist was founded in the belief that our editorial integrity is sacred, and that no publisher will have the right to dictate what we can and can't say about a game. I'm pleased to say that, to this date, we have an unblemished record in this regard, and I don't expect that to ever change.

Actually, a question for Russ: What measures would be taken if, in fact, a publisher attempted to pull advertising, etc. to threaten for you a low score?

Would you, for example, publish the threat?

A well-written piece, Mr. Pitts. Wonderful reassurance for all of us.

A 5...out of 5.

It's a good decision.

The reviews will remain the same quality, no reason to think otherwise.
I just hope that thosee reviewers opposed to scores, will not consider the score an afterthought.

Scores should reflect how the reviewer ranks games of a similar type/genre.

I'll admit, I just watch the video review supplement to get a quick opinion of what was good or bad about the game, but score really doesn't matter to me on any site.

Strangely, I read every other article except reviews.

I'm a supporter of review scores as they are quantifiable data that can be useful in measuring overall critical success, and their popularity does make them more relevant as a tool. Taking advantage of that means that The Escapist has its say in the meta scores, which would help increase the integrity of said scores in my view.

However, I must also express concern that the implementation of review scoring will effect or change the style of writing in The Escapist. I think that part of what makes this magazine special is that you don't approach games with apathy, but rather empathy - as you say, how it feels to play the game rather than just its objective qualities.

Review scores, though an advantageous approach in many ways, are a kind of turn off to quality thinking as opposed to quantity thinking; if we decide that a game is a 9/10 before writing the review, we may find that this changes the tone of the whole review because of authorial and audience-based expectations surrounding the 9/10 score. For this reason, I'd say that it is essential that reviewers hold their judgement on actual scores until they have finished writing the review itself. That's a minor request, but I think the team would be surprised at how consistent it helps their writing to be.

I look forward to seeing this change have the ideal impact, which is zero for the writing, but very high for the overall usefulness of the magazine.

I am sure this was an uneasy decision but I must confess it was not one I agree with.

The whole aspect of quantifying the experience with a number or set number of stars shifts the review towards a critic.

I recognise that in every review there is a great deal of subjectivity in the extraordinary writing I've come to expect from the escapist, but a score is a stronger subjective judgement.

To be fair most people won't look at the criteria behind the score and we will fall to our own standards of what the number of stars means for us, individually.

Nonetheless I am confident the Escapist will continue to deliver fabulous reviews that are good sources of insight towards the experiencing of playing a game, even if (as mentioned earlier) only time will tell!

"For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dark Templar:

chantzzzzz:

I do agree with the part about the people who read reviews only for a score are not likely to be reading reviews now anyway, so saying you might gain people is not far off the mark, actually.

So its a cash in. Sacrifice artistic integrity for higher traffic numbers. Thats how this is looking right now.

Just my opinion anyway. You guys review any way you want.

That's what I got from this too. He said The Escapist was founded on editorial integrity but then went on to explain how, basically, this is being done to get a few cheap views from people too lazy to read a page of text.
A number can't communicate a how a game feels to play and as far as I can see, all this will do is get people angry that their favourite game got three stars instead of four.

JayDig:
I'll admit, I just watch the video review supplement to get a quick opinion of what was good or bad about the game, but score really doesn't matter to me on any site.

Same here. I watch those nice little video supplements first and then, if I find the game interesting, I read the written review...Well, to be fair, if I find a game interesting enough to check its review, I always read the written part as well. Video supplements simply are handy for getting a quick peek at the actual game play. Scores, however, donīt enter the equation in any part.

So, good luck to The Escapist on this new road you chose. Time will tell whether or not this move was wise, not me.

Well thats depressing. thumbs down. dont give in to the unwashed masses calling like zombies for review scores. who even likes those things? what is the difference between a 4 and a 5? is there one? its completely subjective. its not a friggin calculus question.

damnit escapist, stop trying to compete with gamespot and ign.

if you do decide to go with scores, as it seems clear that you are, please do what edge online does and post them in tiny font at the bottom, so they are marginalized. dont go like gamespot and ign and post them in a huge picture at the top of the article. that just encourages people not to read the thing.

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