Love them or hate them, review scores are a big deal. You may say that they're unnecessary or that they distract from more important conversations about game criticism -- and that's fine -- but there's no denying that a lot of people care about that all-important number. Need proof? Just take one look at the recent Days Gone review debacle.
At the time of writing, Days Gone has a 72 on Metacritic, and that, according to some people, is a disaster. Why? How? When did we decide that 7 is closer to 0 than it is 10? As a fairly experienced reviewer myself, it's a notion that drives me up the wall. I can't give a game a 7/10 without people insinuating that it's a failure, and that's just ridiculous.
Now look, there are a lot of things that factor into this way of thinking. For starters, games are not cheap, especially if you're on a tight budget. If you're forking out $60 for a brand new retail release, you probably want the best, and if a game's being showered with 8s, 9s, and 10s, then you're gonna feel better about your purchase. But even with that in mind, why has 7 become the point at which you wait for a sale or ignore the game entirely? Isn't 7 supposed to be good? Not great, sure, but still good? Worth it? A solid game?
Well, according to Push Square's scoring policy it is, but clearly, not every publication or critic agrees. And that's not me having a go at other websites -- that's just the way things have turned out.
You see, 5/10 should be the average score, for obvious reasons, but that's just not the case. In reality, 7/10 is more or less the average because most games fall into that category of being good. Just good. Not great, not amazing -- just good. And when I say 'most games' I'm not taking every game that's ever been made into account -- I'm talking about games that actually get reviewed.
It's impossible to review every single game that gets released -- there are just too many of them. It was difficult enough back when I first started writing about games years ago, but now it's completely out of the question. The simple truth is that websites and critics have to pick and choose specific games to review, Push Square included. And that means everyone sticks to covering roughly the same games -- the ones making the most noise, the ones that their audiences have shown the most interest in.
By doing this, you narrow the scope of review scores significantly. If a game's making waves, it's usually because it looks promising, and surprise, a lot of promising-looking games end up being pretty good. And so we're left with an abundance of 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s, all of them serving to skew our perspective of the 10 point review scale.
Going back to Days Gone, we've got a game that most agree is good -- it's just not on par with the many titles that settle on 8s, 9s, and 10s. It's worth reiterating that there's nothing wrong with this -- I'm sure you've all thoroughly enjoyed at least one game that got "middling" review scores -- but because of that skewed perspective I mentioned earlier, Days Gone is deemed a critical flop. It's crazy.
Of course, you can always try to tell people that review scores don't really matter. Use them as guidelines, tools to help you decide on how to spend your hard-earned cash -- try not to take them so personally. But then this is the internet -- it's either the holy grail of gaming or it's the biggest piece of crap to ever grace a console.
Do you agree with Rob's points, or should 7/10 games be condemned to the trashcan? Make sure your opinion is at least an 8/10 in the comments section below.