Metacritic, Obsidian and Southpark - How to ruin industry 101

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Recently Obsidian was apparently hit with another round of lay-offs, mostly affecting the team working on the South Park RPG as well as unannounced "next-gen" title that got cancelled. While not exactly news these days in the industry, as recently many of the companies had to let their workers go, the background of it is much more interesting.

In response to tweet that pointed out that Fallout: New Vegas surely brought profit to the company, Chris Avellone responded that they did not get any bonus for the work because the game did not score 85+ on Metacritic.
The really sad part is it scored 84.

I know it's not the first time something like this happens, but should a site like MetaCritic, that has very unclear scoring system (translating various scoring systems into their x/100) have such power? Furthermore, is there anything gamers really can do about it other than not visit MetaCritic ever?

It's another WTF gaming industry moment in quite short period of time and sadly it doesn't look like things are about to improve anytime soon. Seems like more and more projects will be forced to rely on crowd-fudning to even get going at this rate, but will this change how big publishers really approach the market, or are we headed for "dark ages" where AAA titles will fade with exception of few annual franchises, lowering the quality (mostly in terms of visuals and audio) of games for some time?

Meanwhile, Skyrim is at a 94%. This is why we can't have nice things.

Can Metacritic please die? Pretty please? Does it even serve a purpose anymore since people just review bomb everything nowadays.

Skyrim really got a 94%? That's fucking broken.

When will people learn to actually read reviews and come to their own conclusions rather than "WHAT'S THE SCORE?! WHAT IS IT?! 90%?! THAT'S FUCKING DISGRACEFUL!"

As much as I find it convenient to have all these reviews from everywhere easily available, I cannot go to that site anymore because of this kind of thing. Shareholders wreck everything for 1% (in this case, literally) in every industry. Thanks for thinking about mentionning that, TotalBiscuit would be proud.

metacritic has always been a scourge.
Emotions =/= numbers, they cannot, finding somebodies opinions you trust or ones that align with your own has always been the better way. But reading is such a social faux pas nowadays :(

bahumat42:
metacritic has always been a scourge.
Emotions =/= numbers, they cannot, finding somebodies opinions you trust or ones that align with your own has always been the better way. But reading is such a social faux pas nowadays :(

Agreed - otherwise you can end up getting a vegetarian to tell you what bacon to buy. And when the bacon-producers get paid less because of the opinions of people who are completely outside their target demographic, that's just going to end badly. Metaphorically speaking.

Anyway, I'd much rather read a proper review by someone who does that sort of thing for a living than add up arbitrary scores thrown around by Shouty-McRageface825 and friends.

The Wykydtron:
Can Metacritic please die? Pretty please? Does it even serve a purpose anymore since people just review bomb everything nowadays.

Professional reviewers don't. Their metascore is not impacted by the dipshits/players.

This site has a good purpose but it should not be used in industries like that. It just ruins things when it gets done that way

Elcarsh:

The Wykydtron:
Can Metacritic please die? Pretty please? Does it even serve a purpose anymore since people just review bomb everything nowadays.

Professional reviewers don't. Their metascore is not impacted by the dipshits/players.

Or by the actual quality of the game, which is the other problem with Metacritic.

Fucking hell, real people have lost their jobs now due to reviewers.

What's Dragon Age 2 score on metacritic? Didn't they pay off loads of sites to get a higher score?

As unfortunate and sad as it is to have a company's financial survival tied to something as ludicrously unstable and questionable as a meta-critic score, am I the only one who doesn't mind seeing a developer pay a price for releasing a slip-shod game? I'm a huge Obsidian supporter, and I actually really liked New Vegas and had a (relatively) stable play through, but that game was released in a hilariously broken state. As was Alpha Protocol, as was KOTOR 2. I have nothing but respect for Chris Avellone and the ability of that developer to tell me compelling stories, but they just weren't learning their lesson in terms of releasing games that weren't steaming, buggy catastrophes before propped up by a cavalcade of emergency patches. Most people never even got to the good parts of Alpha Protocol, for example, because of how busted it was on release, and I can't even really blame them.

endtherapture:
What's Dragon Age 2 score on metacritic? Didn't they pay off loads of sites to get a higher score?

82. Given the 7-10 rating scheme employed for AAA games, I'm more or less content with 82. Some AAA game hits with an 82 and you know there were some serious problems afoot. But then, I was more forgiving of DA2's foibles than many.

fucking disgraceful. that 1% difference should NOT have caused that, the game was phenomenal, especially with how the DLC worked, such bullshit.

gmaverick019:
fucking disgraceful. that 1% difference should NOT have caused that, the game was phenomenal, especially with how the DLC worked, such bullshit.

Come on. Let's not be ridiculous. 84 was pretty fucking generous for that game AS IT WAS at release.

I agree that tying bonuses to meta-critic scores is hardly ideal but Obsidian was playing with fire releasing all these bug-ridden games.

BloatedGuppy:

I agree that tying bonuses to meta-critic scores is hardly ideal but Obsidian was playing with fire releasing all these bug-ridden games.

So is the moral of the story that Obsidian games would get the scores they deserve if they had Bethesada's marketing budget, or that Bethesada games would get the scores they deserve if they had Obsidian's marketing budget?

BloatedGuppy:

gmaverick019:
fucking disgraceful. that 1% difference should NOT have caused that, the game was phenomenal, especially with how the DLC worked, such bullshit.

Come on. Let's not be ridiculous. 84 was pretty fucking generous for that game AS IT WAS at release.

Mine wouldn't even boot until patch 1.1

Kahunaburger:
So is the moral of the story that Obsidian games would get the scores they deserve if they had Bethesada's marketing budget, or that Bethesada games would get the scores they deserve if they had Obsidian's marketing budget?

The moral of the story is Obsidian might be as prominent and solidly placed as Bethesda or Bioware as an RPG developer if they ever got their shit together and released a working game. They're the best storytellers in the business, but their products always ship in a laughable state.

Bethesda games ship buggy. Obsidian games ship broken. We can be Obsidian fans and still acknowledge that.

If obsidian didn't want to be paid according to meta critic then they shouldn't have signed a deal where they were.

Or you know..... Not release a big ridden mess.

I got into the game some time after release so I never experienced the launch bugs. I would have given it a score of 100/100 at that point as it has been a fantastic game.

They were paid after all. They just werent given the bonus because they didn't go the extra mile.

Obsidian had to make do with Bethesda's glitchy Gamebryo engine and QA was handled by them as well. Way to screw them over Bethesda

BloatedGuppy:

Kahunaburger:
So is the moral of the story that Obsidian games would get the scores they deserve if they had Bethesada's marketing budget, or that Bethesada games would get the scores they deserve if they had Obsidian's marketing budget?

The moral of the story is Obsidian might be as prominent and solidly placed as Bethesda or Bioware as an RPG developer if they ever got their shit together and released a working game. They're the best storytellers in the business, but their products always ship in a laughable state.

Bethesda games ship buggy. Obsidian games ship broken. We can be Obsidian fans and still acknowledge that.

Didn't the most recent Bethesada game feature things like dragons that flew backward and a save structure that rendered the game unplayable on consoles? It's interesting to me that things like these are stuff the review industry is willing to overlook for Bethesada but unwilling to do so for Obsidian.

But yeah, I do agree with you that Obsidian needs to get their QA act together.

Got to agree with the people above, I can't really feel sorry for them not getting a bonus when they released a game that would barely run five minutes. I bought a copy about three months after release on the PS3, based on what I've heard a less buggy port at least initially than on the pc and it still froze consistently after a half hour in Freeside.

Great game but if you're going to release an unfinished product you can't complain about not getting a bonus for it, just be happy you still have a job.

Kahunaburger:

Didn't the most recent Bethesada game feature things like dragons that flew backward and a save structure that rendered the game unplayable on consoles? It's interesting to me that things like these are stuff the review industry is willing to overlook for Bethesada but unwilling to do so for Obsidian.

I think it's more that the rest of the game made up for it. Same with New Vegas but just the same if I'd heard the Skyrim developers didn't get a bonus because their product wasn't working properly when they released it I wouldn't care about that either.

Don't blame metacritic... they're just a review website. Blame the companies using such a system as a means to screw other people over.

Kahunaburger:
Didn't the most recent Bethesada game feature things like dragons that flew backward and a save structure that rendered the game unplayable on consoles? It's interesting to me that things like these are stuff the review industry is willing to overlook for Bethesada but unwilling to do so for Obsidian.

But yeah, I do agree with you that Obsidian needs to get their QA act together.

Well, the question isn't "Are there bugs, yes/no", it's "How many bugs are there" and "How disruptive are they". My Skyrim experience was notably more stable than my New Vegas experience, and my New Vegas experience was notably stable by New Vegas standards. Both are buggy. Depending on your standards, you could argue that both are unacceptably buggy. But if Skyrim's bugs are bad enough to notice and mock, then New Vegas was flat out broken.

Again, I LOVE Obsidian. Mask of the Betrayer? I loved that shit. Alpha Protocol? Super underrated. But my GOD they earned this fucking reputation they have for half-assing their QA to a ridiculous degree.

Sad. New Vegas is (in its current state) one of the best games of this generation, I would really like to see them doing in-between iterations of Bethesda games in the future, but it looks like the company is about to go belly up.

Pandabearparade:
Sad. New Vegas is (in its current state) one of the best games of this generation, I would really like to see them doing in-between iterations of Bethesda games in the future, but it looks like the company is about to go belly up.

It might be for the best. Avellone might end up with a company that has its shit together.

I point also to Jimquisition and the episode "Hate Out of Ten." I never liked using numbers for a review because 1 or 2 digits can't adequately sum up complex opinions about a piece of media. But the situation is only exacerbated by the fact that 8 (which allegedly means excellent) has become a stand-in for adequate. And it certainly doesn't help matters that gamers have now come to expect perfect 10 review scores as a matter of course.

So not only is the whole concept of tying your bonuses to your Metacritic score stupid, the whole system has been rendered pointless because the numbers have been so thoroughly devalued by the consumers. It's no longer an accurate reflection of anything, even as an aggregate.

1% off on an highly suspect metacritic algorithm, that isn't even a true average. 1 bloody percent!

New Vegas and Obsidian deversed better. If Bethesda can get away with releasing a buggy game and then surely a great game like New Vegas can as well.

Go to hell Metacritic and go screw yourself Bethesda Publishing division for taking metacritic scores seriously.

Keava:
should a site like MetaCritic, that has very unclear scoring system (translating various scoring systems into their x/100) have such power?

No, they should not. This Obsidian example is not an exception, it's a rule of modern video game production - a high Metacritic score is essential or you're in big trouble. Maybe it's why some sites and critics gave Dragon Age 2 a glowing 100% review as it's better to gloss over some problems than see a favoured studio suffer or even go under? It's why developer employees have been known to go raging on twitter at critics too, if their review scores were merely just affecting customer's opinion you might see a bit less vitriol and more professional composure, but if a poor review is going to bury the company regardless of commercial success...

It's a pretty fucked up situation that needs to change, it's been here far too long already. Tim Schafer may just have exposed the cracks in the current corporate armour, let's see how far it goes.

Gamers need to share some responsibility too, try not being so harsh just because you get the occasional bug (something older generations are far more forgiving of) or you just don't like something. Your personal tastes do not suddenly mean a product is shit worthy of hate, Left 4 Dead 1 addicts are a good example. Chill out, live and let live. The industry and everything surrounding it will be much better off.

I must be some kind of living miracle machine because I've never had an Obsidian game be ridiculously buggy on me. People who complain about Obsidian games being bug-ridden broken messes should try playing games made by Troika. Their heads would probably explode.

Why does this happen? Because we let it.

Seriously? The gaming industry pays its employees based on what a fucking critic site has to say? Wow...that's...that's pretty horrible. Don't they know that opinions are like assholes: everyone's got one? Success should be determined by opening month sales, not what some douche at a website thinks.

GiantRaven:
I must be some kind of living miracle machine because I've never had an Obsidian game be ridiculously buggy on me. People who complain about Obsidian games being bug-ridden broken messes should try playing games made by Troika. Their heads would probably explode.

That's one of the inherent quirks of PC gaming. The Byzantine combinations of hardware, applications, and peripherals make QA testing a challenge. A game may work perfectly fine on one person's PC, but be a big-ridden nightmare on someone else's.

Elcarsh:

The Wykydtron:
Can Metacritic please die? Pretty please? Does it even serve a purpose anymore since people just review bomb everything nowadays.

Professional reviewers don't. Their metascore is not impacted by the dipshits/players.

The fact that Metacritic just lost people their jobs due to a less than stellar score is just insane regardless. Not to mention that the review scores in gaming have been broken for quite a while now, an 84 should not be seen as a bad score. When everything needs a 90+ to pass as "playable" that's when you know this shit is broken

People are starting to realise this (hopefully) and perhaps reviewers could stop giving scores altogether and actually make people read the damn review.

Instead of THE NUMBERS MASON! WHAT DO THEY MEAN?!

Ooh wow, that really sucks. Maybe they shouldn't have launched into an MMO, those things are money pits.

I was also hoping that Obsidian would be doing the in-between Fallout games and was very excited to see what they could do with Bethesda's repainted engine.

Well Metacritic is a pile of steaming poop regardless or these events, always has been and always will be, the community would be better off without it.

But they are not responsible for layoffs or in some cases even entire companies torn apart, that is the brilliant work of accountants that can only understand things in numbers and because they can't comprehend quality they hang it all on the metacritic score.
This is going on in every major company now days, if X score isn't met then the game is considered a failure, they pull paychecks, they pull projects... and these fucking ignorant imbeciles are at the game industries steering wheel.

Mr.K.:
/snip

Aye, it's what I was attempting to state earlier.

What's surprising me is that this is news to so many people, especially on a gaming enthusiast website/forum.

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