After an incredible 15 years – and more 8/10 jokes than we care to count – Eurogamer.net has dropped review scores. It's not the first site to do so – both Kotaku and Joystiq (RIP) ditched numbers and stars a while ago – but the news seems significant this time because our buddies from Brighton operate a more traditional publication, which has slightly different values and goals to the aforementioned blogs. It's clear, with each passing day, that games journalism is changing, and that's providing us, here at Push Square, with an interesting challenge. In light of today's announcement, then, we've pulled editors Sammy Barker and Robert Ramsey into a single article, so that they can spew their thoughts on review scores.
Review Scores Work When Done Properly, Says Sammy Barker
I know you won't all believe it, but we put a lot of effort into review scores. Every review that you read on this site comes through Robert or I, and, as the team will attest, we usually end up making adjustments. It's this second eye which I believe pushes the site above many of its peers; we work hard, with the reviewer, to get to the crux of what they're trying to say – and sometimes that means adjusting the number that's assigned at the bottom of the text.
I see these figures as a complement to the writing, and I'll never understand why certain forum goers are so staunchly against them. There will always be people that only look at the number, and maybe some think that ditching them entirely will force those few to actually read and determine their own verdict – but I personally think that they'll just look elsewhere. We're living in an age of short attention spans, and scores provide publications like this one with the quickest method of getting information across.
I think our review scores serve a very important purpose, then, and I like that the granularity of our ten points system allows us to guide you towards niches that you may yet enjoy. A personal recent example of this could be applied to Life Is Strange, a game which Graham Banas awarded a 6/10 in his review. I don't disagree with a word that he said in his critique, and I think that the score was spot on based on his observations, but our scale indicates that "you may still really enjoy a 6/10". Guess what? I loved it.
The problem with review scores, then, is that people attempt to apply a blanket formula to every single site, and that just doesn't work; a 6/10 on IGN could mean something wildly different to a 6/10 on Push Square. This obviously introduces issues when Metacritic attempts to define averages from disparate scales, but, frankly, I don't see this as my problem to solve. I'll continue to champion review scores on Push Square because I think that we do them right, and I think that they add real value on the reader's behalf. The second that that changes, I'll reconsider my stance.
Why Shouldn't Review Scores Be There? Ponders Robert Ramsey
Review scores are a funny concept, when you think about it. A result of man's obsession with categorising everything under the sun, applying numbers to something that teams of people have slaved over for years at a time seems like a weird idea – but it's a concept that's always worked.
Whether we like it or not, review scores are a foundation of the gaming media, and sites like Metacritic are an important part of an armchair analyst's exciting life. Jokes aside, it's easy to dismiss review scores as an outdated and uncool practice, but it's also equally easy to forget how many people read reviews purely for that big number at the end of it.
Having reviewed almost 100 games for Push Square over the course of around two years, I've lost count of how many times someone's disagreed with a score that I've slapped onto the end of 1,000 words. It's also clear, more often than not, that those who disagree simply haven't taken the time to read why the game in question received the score that it did, and I can guarantee that this is something that every reviewer on the 'net has thought about at least once.
The fact of the matter is that you can't force anyone to read something. If they're visiting your site just to catch a glimpse of that precious number, then what can you do? Eurogamer.net's new stance is a bold one, if unoriginal, and it's essentially putting trust in its readers to actually read the reviews that its writers have likely toiled over for hours.
Personally, I'm a bit divided on the whole issue. On the one hand, I think that review scores are useful; they're an indicator, allowing readers to quickly get a measure on how good a game is. On the other side of things, many people interpret scores as the be-all and end-all of someone's opinion, and that thought process usually leads to a minefield of discrepancies.
I suppose that a lot of this comes down to what you think a review's primary purpose actually is. For me, it should be a way to help you to form an opinion on a game – and if you haven't bought that game yet, then a review should almost act like a little buyer's guide. Ultimately, if the score at the end of a review helps you to decide how to spend your money, then why shouldn't it be there?
Do you think that review scores have a future, or would you prefer publications like Push Square to dump them? Score us out of ten in the comments section below.