Wednesday February 15, 2017

Does Metacritic Really Matter Today

Metacritic has been around since the 1990's as a video game review aggregate site that compiles the scores from many reviews into a single Metacritic rating. It also allows internet users to vote on a score for a game. Metacritic scores mean a lot to the video games industry. Bonuses are paid or withheld based solely on the game's Metacritic score. A single point on the scale of 0 - 100 that Metacritic uses might mean the difference in a million dollar bonus for your development team. Publishers will fund a game and pump millions into it's development, and then kill it off if it's hired team of former video game reviewers say that a game is not likely to garner a high Metacritic score. Metacritic is big business nowadays; but is it still relevant to the gamer culture?

Many video game buyers rely on watching a video review from Totalbiscuit or a Let's Play from their favorite Youtuber to make a decision on purchasing a $60 game. Some print reviews have dumped their numerical score in favor of a pros and cons approach like Eurogamer. What the publishers know is that gamers are passionate; they act like they own stock in these development houses! So paying attention to the scores on Metacritic has been the main source of feedback for publishers.

Is this an unhealthy situation? Should publishers really treat Metacritic scores like the only truth out there? Do you use Metacritic still? I know I don't; Steam scores and feedback are way more important to me. For games not on Steam, I watch a review or come to our [H]ardocp gaming forums and ask others what they think of a title. What do you use to gauge a game by?

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And then there's the bonus payments that those publishers give to game developers. Chris Avellone of Obsidian Entertainment claims that his team did not receive a bonus (rumored to be a million dollars) for completing the 2010 game Fallout: New Vegas because the game failed to clear the required review score threshold on Metacritic. He claims it missed the cut-off by a single Metascore point. "That's a real thing, and it still happens all over," says Kevin Dent, CEO at games business management consultant firm Tiswaz Entertainment and a longtime executive and investor in the industry. "You get bonuses based on sales, and you get bonuses based on Metacritic scores. An executive producer might get a bonus of around $100K, and a regular programmer might get something like $15K, enough for a car."

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