Metacritic: 2012 Lacked Quality Games

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Metacritic: 2012 Lacked Quality Games

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The review aggregator site claims the previous year "paled in comparison" when it came to high-scoring reviews.

Review score aggregation: love it or hate it, it has considerable influence on the gaming industry, especially when you hear of companies using aggregated scores to screen potential job applicants. Metacritic, the site dedicated to compiling review scores and breaking down video games to a single number, has released a report on the best video games of 2012. In short: there weren't all that many.

The feature post stated that the past year "paled in comparison" to other years when it came to quality video games, which are titles that scored an average score of 90 or above. "Just 14 console games - and 18 products overall, including PC and handheld (non-iOS) titles - scored 90 or higher in 2012," the report says. "Those figures represent a huge drop from the previous year, when 23 console titles (and 32 games overall) met or exceeded the 90 mark.

"In fact, since we started publishing these year-end reports in 2009, we have never encountered such a low total number of great games in a single year." That's not much historical data to go on, but the marked drop in high-scoring games is noteworthy.

The report also presented statistics on how the consoles fared in 2012: the PS3 nosed in front with the highest average Metascore of 70.3 for its releases, while the Xbox 360 offered the highest number of 90+ games and "Good Exclusives". The best reviewed game for the year went to Telltale's The Walking Dead, with an average score of 95.

Source & Image: Metacritic

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Considering Metacritic is a joke rivaling that of RottenTomato, they aren't even allowed to guess if 2012 was a good year or not.

Maybe reviewers didn't like what the industry had to offer...If you know what I mean

This is the year of the indies after all. Guess what games they don`t feature on metacritic? LOOLLLLLL

That might actually true, as long as you define "quality" as a social construct, where it is the majority consensus about a game's high quality defines it as high quality, as opposed to my personal opinion.

Big "AAA" games are only getting bigger, and more mainstream, and more bland as they are growing to try to appeal to everybody, without truly capturing anyone. Sterling's video on Resident Evil 6 is a good description of that mentality.

A lot of the big games were like Resi 6 this year, being all unremarkable and "decent" shooters, while the small games are so obscure, that the average reviewer either didn't review them, or if they did, they didn't get them, as it was not trying to appeal to everyone including them, but capture a smaller niche.

There were a few runaway hits like FTL and Journey, like there are every year, but even those mostly happened because of the snowballing hype. Most reviewers could get a similarly brilliant game as Journey put in front of them, and without being told that this is the next big thing, they would just dismiss it.

Phht. Statistics.

2012 was my favourite year of gaming since 2007.

Although we must make allowance for the fact that we are at the end of the console life-cycle, the tech is now old and we are all used to it (and cannot be surprised and/or impressed by it as easily), my personal feeling is the same.

2012 has been a very poor year in terms of high quality of video games when compared to previous years. We had some truly great year, but we've had much, much better ones.

hmm how to put this, there's lies, there's damn lies and then there's statistics.

Yeah, I'd agree with this. There were 1 or 2 games that were great, and a whole lot of crap. Previous years have had more good games released than 2012 - this year really was quite disappointing overall. Most of the interesting looking games are slated for releases next year anyway, this year really just felt like filler material until then. Whilst few of the games were really bad, few of them were great either. It was just a year of "meh" games.

wow this means that reviewers are starting to give sober judgements.

This is why Metacritic is unsuitable for this


Metacritic is a good tool for deciding between games in the 0-85 range and it also contains good information in the high range too, if it's interpreted properly. A 90 game isn't a fantastic game, but a game that didn't piss anyone off. And thats key.

Basically Metacritic rates polish, partly because our journalism is still very young. Games marked down for having flaws and don't get marked up very often for fantastic, unique concepts. And ultimately a game that aims at one part of the populace and does it well is better than a game thats been polished and blanded enough to appeal to everyone.

90-100 games on Metacritic should be interpreted like getting number one on the pop charts. Every now and then a Somebody I Used To Know pops up, but generally it's Call Me Maybe

But 2012 was gaming wise far better than 2011. Can't say about 2010, don't remember that far.

So Metacritic is faced with a slight increase in journalistic integrity and blames it on games being bad. Yep. That's a strategy for secure, unmitigated win.

Maybe journalists finally got of the "An 8.8 is an insult worthy of internet deaththreats" horse.

I do visit metacritic, usually from the steampage of a game that I don't know but looked interesting. I take a look at the total rating, rounded to the nearest multiple of two, and follow the link to one high, one low and one middle review, just to see what the people who liked it liked about and what the people who didn't like it hated. In short, Metacritic is a useful list of links to reviews, and the rating functions as a decent ballpark estimate for the game. But whether it scores just above or just below the 9.0 mark is irrelevant.

Halceon:
So Metacritic is faced with a slight increase in journalistic integrity and blames it on games being bad. Yep. That's a strategy for secure, unmitigated win.

Thank you, I wasn't quite sure how to phrase that. Saved me some thinking trouble.

I had fun with games in 2012, but fact is most of those games I already barely remember playing. Everything was good but sorta bland.

So the publishers didn't bribe enough reviewers, big deal.

I'm wondering why Metacritic is still relevant or even useful.

So, how goes removing that Natural Selection 2 review that the submitter wanted to withdraw for having factual inaccuracies? Oh, it still hasn't been removed, won't be removed but the score from the review will still reflect upon the average?

Keep it real, Metacritic.

Love people jumping straight on the "looks like Publishers didn't bribe enough" train.

Because God forbid the reviewers actually like the games. That'd just be crazy!

Perhaps there's been some backtracking on the whole "inflated review scores" thing. For the past couple of years people have been grumbling about it more and more, so perhaps more and more reviewers are giving out "harsher" scores. I'm not saying it's journalistic integrity or anything, it's just as likely they are doing it to appear "edgy" and not as sellouts. But I have noticed a trend to give lower numerical scores all around. Granted, I've also noted a trend of Scapegoating, where a site will tear apart smaller games on nitpicks and still rate big AAA titles extremely highly, sacrificing the small releases to maintain an appearance of impartiality...

Interesting how people are tending to be quite negative about this news. It sounds pretty reasonable to me; yes, there were some truly great games this year, and psychologically our memory of those (combined with the fact that we tend to remember more recent things more vividly) means that we find it difficult to believe this kind of statistic. But this isn't about the few excellent games, this is about the overall picture, and certainly when I look back on the 2011 best-of lists it was notable how many more games came up on them.

It certainly wasn't a bad year for gaming though.
Nevertheless, maybe reviewers are becoming a little bit more harsh simply because their frustrated by the lack of truly new games- I know there were a number of fresh experiences throughout the year, but the games industry really isn't going to get a proper shake-up until some new consoles get released...

Irridium:
Love people jumping straight on the "looks like Publishers didn't bribe enough" train.

Because God forbid the reviewers actually like the games. That'd just be crazy!

Hey now, reviewers can still be zealous fanboys without being paid to do it.
Not that I've seen any evidence of that here.
>.>
<.<

Metacritic is only relevant because gaming media refuses to shut the fuck up about it. It aggregates review scores and all those review scores operate on different scales by virtue of being from different people. It doesn't really amount to much of anything beyond a lot of people heaping far more attention on it than it deserves.

The sooner people get over it and accept it as nothing more than a collection of data points the better.

I thought that it was a pretty bad year for mainstream games, but there were a lot of great indie games.

Definitely true I think. I spent all of 2011 frantically trying to find funds for all the amazing games. I spent most of 2012 buying the games I missed in 2011. Even discounting the scores and just comparing the lists, there's a really noticeable difference in my opinion.

There's been worse years though and it is kind of unfair to compare it to 2011, which was just a spectacular year (best since 2007 at least in my mind).

Idunno what to make of these scores, but rather than take the views of the reviewers and apply them to my own filter, I'm just going to accept them for what they are: other people's (perhaps professional, but perhaps not) views of how well a game performed. I, on for one, enjoyed many of the games that were released last year, and I'm still enjoying last year's games. Not just what few indies I've purchased, but also many of the year's "biggest" AAA titles. Overall, I think it was a fantastic year for games and, with what's expected to be released this year, I've little doubt it has anywhere to go but up.

2012 was awesome, this just proves metacritic is bollox

some of the ones I considered to be really good:

legend of grimrock
binding of isaac: wrath of the lamb
spec ops: the line
walking dead
guild wars 2
mark of the ninja
borderlands 2 (my game of the year)
torchlight 2
dishonored
xcom
giana sisters
halo 4
angry bids star wars
far cry 3

So yes this year was backloaded with lots of stuff dropping in 4th quarter but that doesn't mean there wasn't lots of great stuff.

Oh and also a big updates to Dwarf Fortress...so yeah metacritic is losing its relevancy

I suppose it's possible that the average score is declining because reviewers finally understand that when you rate a game x/10 the potential scores include all numbers between 1 and 10... not just 7, 8, 9 and 10 >.>

Eh, it's my favorite year for gaming. But whatever. "Other people" and "different opinions" and whatnot.

Hey Metacritic. How about you make your scoring formula transparent? Because until then you are just a bad joke that manipulates scores for whatever reason and no one with a brain should be able to take you serious.

Executive summary: I believe the low scores may be because there is a shift to give the 0-10 scale proper meaning so that 5/10 means "average game" rather than 8/10 meaning "average game".

Now, on to the wall-of-text.

Funny to run across this article today. My friend and I, just last night, were discussing game review ratings inflation over a meal at Red Robin. We both came to the consensus that if the 0-10 scale is being properly used, then most games, at any given point in the history of the game industry, should fall in the mid 4 to high 6 range of scores. The reason is that this range, no matter the context, criteria, and time period, should always correspond to an average game. This is a game that hits all the basics, doesn't really do anything wrong, but doesn't do anything spectacular or revolutionary either. These are games that simply make par. Once you get into the range of 7's, you start talking about good games that maybe do some interesting stuff. At 8, the games become extraordinary works that have a high level of quality and polish. At the range of 9 and beyond, these are games that are works of genius and pure masterpieces. These would be the kind of games that reinvent the genre or completely change the rules of how games of that type (or, sometimes, any game) are designed and made. These are truly wonder works.

Now here's the problem. Once the concepts, techniques, and ideas of the 8, 9, and even 10 rating games becomes common or expected, any game thereafter can only garner a score, once again, in the mid 4 to high 6 range, possibly even low to mid 7's if enough polish is put into it. This is because the spectacular becomes ordinary (or mediocre) once it becomes common enough and easily reproducible through minimal effort. It becomes the norm. Consider the fact that many of the elements in games today that we take for granted, just 10-15 years ago required incredible effort and truly extraordinary, out-of-the-box creative thinking to accomplish. Nowadays, much of the effort to produce those same elements is a matter of calling some function built-in to the hardware or the packaged game-engine. It's a mundane effort to create those same elements now. It just doesn't astound us or fill us with awe and wonder anymore. It's expected and ordinary; thus, it gets a score hovering in the mediocre range of mid 4s to mid 6s, maybe low to mid 7s, depending on the amount of extra polish put into the game.

At the heart of it all is a disconnect with reality. We're expecting games to be mind-blowing at every single iteration, and that's just not possible. We are constantly needing a bigger and bigger "rush" for each successive game to satisfy us (it has to be more potent each time). Unfortunately, game quality, like so other things, likely follows a Bell curve. Most games, no matter the context or time period, are going to fall into the average range, scores of 4.5 to 6.5. As you go outside that range, in both directions of decreasing quality and increasing quality, you get a rapid, monotonic decrease in the population of games at those scores. If we are always expecting most games to be well-beyond average in quality, i.e. beyond what is considered the norm, then we are only setting ourselves up for disappointment each time.

Even further to this point, we also need to consider that much has been made of the visible score inflation that has been going on in years prior, such that an 8/10 score is considered "average". This kind of skewing, once corrected, will make it appear as if games are of lower quality than prior years if we are still holding to the notion that 8/10 is for an average game, as opposed to a more proper 5/10 rating. The games are likely no better or worse, in context, than at any other time; however, our perceptions have been distorted by long-standing abuse of the scoring scale to give the appearance that every game is of exceptional quality, i.e. worthy of 8/10, when, in fact, the game is only of contextually average quality. This is what leads to the phenomenon of "8 out of 10" becoming "Hate out of 10", as Jim Sterling coined the term. We can see that the games are only of contextually average quality, so we mentally equate 8/10 to "average" or mediocre, even though the scale says that 8/10 is supposed to be exceptional. We still try to use 8/10 as meaning exceptional, but we know this is not really the case by observation of the population distribution. Thus, the meaning of the scale has been disconnected from reality.

I would posit that the phenomenon we are seeing here with these scores is a long overdue correction in which the meaning of the 0-10 is properly aligned with reality such the 4.5-6.5 range means "average", in context, and scores of 8.0 and above are the truly exceptional games. Because the population distribution can be expected to follow something similar to a Bell curve, we should see the vast majority of games occupy scores in the 4.5-6.5 range, with progressively fewer games scoring outside that range, higher or lower. This could make the appearance of games being worse, if we hold to our prior distortion of 8/10 being an average score, when they are, in fact, contextually unchanged in quality.

EDIT: Decided saying "For the TL;DR" sounds to insulting. Changed it to be what it really is, an executive summary.

ADDENDUM: I have commented in prior posts my disagreement with the level of precision that reviewers attempt to assign to game-review scores. In my opinion, a 1 in 100 or better precision is just not possible with a qualitative heuristic like reviewing a game. There simply is no scientific standard criteria or mathematical algorithm, in my opinion, being used universally for reviewing games that could allow such a high precision in the scoring process, even with averaging of multiple scores from multiple reviewers. At best, one can only meaningfully attain a 1 in 10 precision, and even degrading to a 1 in 5 precision is often sufficient to convey qualitative meaning to the score. In my opinion, the qualitative nature of these scores just doesn't lend credence to using such high precision in the numerical value.

Madkipz:
This is the year of the indies after all. Guess what games they don`t feature on metacritic? LOOLLLLLL

Yes they do.

geizr:
Executive summary: I believe the low scores may be because there is a shift to give the 0-10 scale proper meaning so that 5/10 means "average game" rather than 8/10 meaning "average game".

Now, on to the wall-of-text.

Funny to run across this article today. My friend and I, just last night, were discussing game review ratings inflation over a meal at Red Robin. We both came to the consensus that if the 0-10 scale is being properly used, then most games, at any given point in the history of the game industry, should fall in the mid 4 to high 6 range of scores. The reason is that this range, no matter the context, criteria, and time period, should always correspond to an average game. This is a game that hits all the basics, doesn't really do anything wrong, but doesn't do anything spectacular or revolutionary either. These are games that simply make par. Once you get into the range of 7's, you start talking about good games that maybe do some interesting stuff. At 8, the games become extraordinary works that have a high level of quality and polish. At the range of 9 and beyond, these are games that are works of genius and pure masterpieces. These would be the kind of games that reinvent the genre or completely change the rules of how games of that type (or, sometimes, any game) are designed and made. These are truly wonder works.

Now here's the problem. Once the concepts, techniques, and ideas of the 8, 9, and even 10 rating games becomes common or expected, any game thereafter can only garner a score, once again, in the mid 4 to high 6 range, possibly even low to mid 7's if enough polish is put into it. This is because the spectacular becomes ordinary (or mediocre) once it becomes common enough and easily reproducible through minimal effort. It becomes the norm. Consider the fact that many of the elements in games today that we take for granted, just 10-15 years ago required incredible effort and truly extraordinary, out-of-the-box creative thinking to accomplish. Nowadays, much of the effort to produce those same elements is a matter of calling some function built-in to the hardware or the packaged game-engine. It's a mundane effort to create those same elements now. It just doesn't astound us or fill us with awe and wonder anymore. It's expected and ordinary; thus, it gets a score hovering in the mediocre range of mid 4s to mid 6s, maybe low to mid 7s, depending on the amount of extra polish put into the game.

At the heart of it all is a disconnect with reality. We're expecting games to be mind-blowing at every single iteration, and that's just not possible. We are constantly needing a bigger and bigger "rush" for each successive game to satisfy us (it has to be more potent each time). Unfortunately, game quality, like so other things, likely follows a Bell curve. Most games, no matter the context or time period, are going to fall into the average range, scores of 4.5 to 6.5. As you go outside that range, in both directions of decreasing quality and increasing quality, you get a rapid, monotonic decrease in the population of games at those scores. If we are always expecting most games to be well-beyond average in quality, i.e. beyond what is considered the norm, then we are only setting ourselves up for disappointment each time.

Even further to this point, we also need to consider that much has been made of the visible score inflation that has been going on in years prior, such that an 8/10 score is considered "average". This kind of skewing, once corrected, will make it appear as if games are of lower quality than prior years if we are still holding to the notion that 8/10 is for an average game, as opposed to a more proper 5/10 rating. The games are likely no better or worse, in context, than at any other time; however, our perceptions have been distorted by long-standing abuse of the scoring scale to give the appearance that every game is of exceptional quality, i.e. worthy of 8/10, when, in fact, the game is only of contextually average quality. This is what leads to the phenomenon of "8 out of 10" becoming "Hate out of 10", as Jim Sterling coined the term. We can see that the games are only of contextually average quality, so we mentally equate 8/10 to "average" or mediocre, even though the scale says that 8/10 is supposed to be exceptional. We still try to use 8/10 as meaning exceptional, but we know this is not really the case by observation of the population distribution. Thus, the meaning of the scale has been disconnected from reality.

I would posit that the phenomenon we are seeing here with these scores is a long overdue correction in which the meaning of the 0-10 is properly aligned with reality such the 4.5-6.5 range means "average", in context, and scores of 8.0 and above are the truly exceptional games. Because the population distribution can be expected to follow something similar to a Bell curve, we should see the vast majority of games occupy scores in the 4.5-6.5 range, with progressively fewer games scoring outside that range, higher or lower. This could make the appearance of games being worse, if we hold to our prior distortion of 8/10 being an average score, when they are, in fact, contextually unchanged in quality.

EDIT: Decided saying "For the TL;DR" sounds to insulting. Changed it to be what it really is, an executive summary.

Actually, "Average" for a game IS, and always HAS BEEN, around 7, not 5. And the reason is developers like Sergy Titov. Before assigning a review score, the reviewer must ask, "Is this game SO BAD that it deserves to be ranked within 4 points of Big Rigs Over The Road Racing or The War Z?" And the answer is always "NO!"

Most games get high ratings because the ones unworthy of high ratings don't reviewed, but still stick around in the reviewer's consciousness. And because there are SO MANY ways a game can go wrong, it's better to have the 1-5 scale around to indicate JUST HOW BADLY a game screws up. 1's are reserved almost exclusively for spectacular failures - which sane people are smart enough to not ever actually release.

Scow2:
Actually, "Average" for a game IS, and always HAS BEEN, around 7, not 5.

No, that is not true. A bit more than 20 years ago, because I can remember checking out game scores in the magazines (yes, I'm that old), a score of 5/10 WAS considered average. A game getting an 8/10 score really was usually extremely exceptional. I've actually watched the score inflation happen as time has progressed.

I think the reason for this, more than anything else is that more and more sites and reviewers are moving towards a 5 as an "average" rating. It's not low quality, it's score deflation, which I think is a very good thing.

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