Developers Say The Metacritic Obsession Is Damaging To Video Games

UK publication MCV has written an interesting article exploring the current obsession with Metacritic and why it’s bad for the industry as a whole. The publication has spoken to a number of European video game developers who have once again reiterated that a good Metacritic score means that they can receive pay bonuses and shares for the company rise. Some believe that the scoring system is detrimental to developers and is harming innovation Here’s what some of the developers who spoke to the publication had to say.

“The problem is how parts of the games industry and audience treat Metacritic. The idea that a game isn’t worth buying, or that its developers have failed and don’t deserve bonuses if it scores under 80 or even 85 on Metacritic, is going to result in samey, bland games that are made according to what works in Metacritic’s system. It’s harming innovation in mainstream gaming.”

– Eurogamer

“I understand the desire to simplify complex matters into easy to understand patterns. But ultimately I believe review scores are a bane to the games industry.”

– Bossa Studios co-founder Imre Jele

“There are so many factors that go into reviews it doesn’t make sense. Some people use the score as a quick shorthand, but there is so much missing.”

– Frontier

“What matters most to us is the response of players and how social media spreads the word about good, playable games,”

– Rebellion founder Jason Kingsley



  1. Well, or how can i say it.. Shitty games/shovelware is damaging the industry itself. If developers make a shitty game, see that it’s shit and still have guts to release it, then thank god there is metacritic who will tell that the game is shit. Or you can try to improve it, delay, and work it, like Nintendo often does.

      1. Delays can be good. Why release a glitchy game when you could push it back a month and release when its actually playable?

      2. Delays CAN be good, but they shouldn’t even be made in the first place. That’s my point

      3. Delays are good if it’s for the purpose of making the game better, better functioning, or to add more content. If it’s delayed because they didn’t feel like releasing it that month, then yeah, that’s annoying. Otherwise, it’s wholly a good thing, in the long run.

    1. The problem is on metacritic any fanboy can get on there and downvote a games into oblivion. One fanboy giving a game a 0 out of ten can change a user score by a significant amount. There are many games that have fell victim to this, and I’m sure it effected sales too.

      1. When I look at Metacritic I can spot a fanboy rating a mile away. Good or Bad. That’s the beauty of Metacritic, all the reviews are right there for you to see if the game is good or not. It’s your own problem you missed out on a great game because you listened to a fanboy and the opposite is also true. I don’t think it’s fair to reward or punish developers based on Metacritic scores though.

      2. Most people don’t look at all the individual reviews. Most people see the average rating and move on. And it’s a shame that fanboy reveiws can have such an impact on the average rating. But I agree, that it’s your own fault if you missed out on a game over a single review.

      3. That is so true. I also don’t agree in using Metacritic as a basis for giving bonuses to developers.

      4. User scores and the Metascore (the average of every score the game has gotten from actual reviewers, such as IGN, Game Informer etc.) are apart from each other. Nobody really cares about the average user score, because everyone knows about the problem you have described; it’s all about the Metascore.

      5. But I have heard alot of people say the complete opposite. That they only look at the user reviews because they think it’s more accurate. I think someone in this very thread said that even..

      6. Oh, really? I personally haven’t heard of anyone caring very much about the general user score, because, just as you’ve said, it’s often fanboys giving bad scores for a game just because they can.
        I’d understand looking at user reviews individually because there really are decent ones among all those low scores submitted by silly people sometimes, but there really isn’t much of a point to look at the average user score, imo.

      7. Never trust user reviews. Users are retards, you know that. Look at the serious reviews from gaming companies. Tbh, I love metacritic. Nowadays, I never buy games unless they get over a 90. Last games I bought was Super Smash Bros Wii u, grand theft auto 5 for Xbox one, halo mcc collection(actually had lower than a 90 and look what happened lol), and dark souls 2, oh and the last of us. That’s not to say that every game that gets a 90+ is amazing. For instance, bio shock infinite deserves an 80/1000 at most.

      8. If you truly don’t buy any games with a score lower than 90 on Metacritic, you’re going to miss out on some really good games.

      9. You will miss a lot of good games that you might like if you just focus on one review source, although I am aware that Metacritic is composed of several reviews compiled as one. But if you are serious about getting those great games you may have to sift through other specific reviews to find which games that are really good. I do agree that using metacritic is great as a quick guide to filter out the bad ones.

  2. Maybe because too much money grubbing occurred for games not entirely fun, bug free, & entertaining and now the customer base is jaded, hmm?

    1. Exactly. And the idiots that want to blindly bash a game go to metacritic. lol There they can give a game all the 0-10’s they want..

  3. It’s kinda funny how Nintendo went all “Hey our Metacritic scores are awesome, we’ll make a badge or whatever about it”. Then The newest Kirby gets a 70-somthing score.
    I think Nintendo’s decision to rely on Metacritic for PR was a poor decision. Hopefully more devs join in this discussion so Metacritic can be gone for good, it’s reviews are more unreliable than Steam reviews.

    1. So you got one game to base your opinion on?

      That score came only because the game is not reviewed by any European sites/magazines, and Giant Bomb was the only one giving the game harsh score, that dropped the meta score to 70’s.
      I’m pretty sure the game will go up to 80’s, when it lands to Europe.
      But otherwise agree, metacritic could go away.

      1. Sonic Boom is on Nintendo?
        Think that’s on Sega.
        Sega didn’t even send any review copies of that atrocity before the game launched.
        That alone tells a lot.
        Hyrule Warriors scored about as good score as any other Warriors game.
        Or we supposed to hold it to higher standards because of Zelda?

      2. Sure, Hyrule Warriors has a 80 user score and 76 metascore, that’s good. Mario Party Island Tour has a 57 metascore and 63 user score, but it’s also not a great game. Kirby’s game score will undoubtedly go up, even Gamespot gave it a bad review but you can see the reviewer rushed through it.
        I wanted to spew a bunch of mumbo jumbo here, but my point is just that future nintendo games might not get a great meta score, so it’s one heck of a bet making that “metascore badge” that will sweep under the rug Wii U 3rd parties that don’t do well.
        But yes it’s a system that should totes mcgoats go away.

    2. How so? Their new Kirby has a 75% and is priced at 44.99 compared to a game that probably had five times its budget and is a 66% like The Order: 1886. If anyithing, this proves their point that their games rank higher than their competitors.

      1. That it does, yeah. But it also proves Nintendo’s 3rd party games just don’t do as well… which they don’t.
        I just think Nintendo relying on Metacritic is bad for the industry and for themselves at some point, because one of their future games will score lower.

      2. It’s a double edged sword, but I’m sure even Nintendo appreciates the criticism and learns from it. It’s better they go by the avg rather than simply taking into account the good or the bad. So long as they continue to make good games they should have no problems. Look at some of their earlier 3ds entries like Mario Party, Mario Tennis, Paper Mario Sticker Star, Mario and Luigi which all had avg to low review scores because they weren’t up to the quality of prior games. I’m sure Nintendo will take this into account for following games in those respective series.

    3. I agree that Nintendo shouldn’t be relying on Metacritic for PR. But there is nothing wrong with quantifying performance with a rating/scoring metric. ALL dev need to be held accountable for their performance, unless they want to fund their game themselves and release it for free. At that point who cares if it sucks or not.

      1. Not when one of the reviews in the user score is a rabid fanboy saying “this game was probably an 8 but I’ll give it a 0 just because.”
        Or when a reviewer rushed through the game to meet a deadline. That’s when metacritic’s scoring system can really screw people up.
        I do agree that devs need to be held accountable for their performance, but that should depend on the company itself.

      2. But a score does not reflect the overall enjoyment some might get from a game. A game that completely breaks the mold, and does something different might score low because of having lower grade graphics, or just not being what the reviewer expected. Review scores are made as an average number targeting the average reader. The reviews themselves often point out whether the game is a suitable fit for certain audiences or just bad.

        For example: some people might like text based adventure games, and a really good one comes out, but reviewers rate it low as it doesn’t appeal to the average user, but might be a perfect fit for people who like the genre.

        If review scores were in any way standardized (although I can not see how), then maybe you’d have a point.

      3. No review is based on the way the average person would feel towards the game or else games like spelunky, flower, thomas was alone, don’t starve, the swapper which are catered towards the lowest common denominator of core gamers would all score bad, which they do not.

    4. Nintendo wasn’t relying on Metacritic. Nintendo was talking about review scores in general, and Metacritic happen to come up. Nintendo could care less about Metacritic, I assure you.

    5. Nintendo boasts about how great reviews they received from Metacritic to their investors so now developers voice out that it is damaging to video games? I’m seeing this as developers telling Nintendo that your games are shit.

    6. “I think Nintendo’s decision to rely on Metacritic for PR was a poor decision.” First of all, this was an investors meeting, which meant that Nintendo would have to literally convince these non-gamers, business-minded if not greedy individuals to invest on or keep investing for Nintendo using positive or optimistic data. The audience was for investors not gamers so it was a pretty smart move for nintendo.

  4. Change the title to : Developers Say The Metacritic Obsession Is Damaging To Bad Video Game Sales

    Much more accurate.

  5. Change the title to : Developers Say The Metacritic Obsession Is Damaging To Bad Video Game Sales

    Much more accurate.

  6. I only trust customer reviews, it’s nice to see that a game you were planning to get got great review scores but beyond that, it’s just people trying to label games as good or bad which is impossible. reviews can be unbiased though most of the time they are not. But mainly it doesn’t work because everyone has different tastes in gaming. perfect example would be recent sonic the hedgehog games. A lot of review sites blasted them with mediocre reviews, but a lot of sonic fans i talk to really enjoyed the games.

      1. Because there’s no consistency or system to accurately determine what score or number a game should receive.

        Reviews are basically recommendations – whether or not you should play a game. A number can not accurately reflect those sentiments and often times people skip the body of the review and jump directly to a number.

        So where a game rated a 7/10 might be a good game for one reviewer another might think it’s a game you should pass.

        But Metacritic doesn’t differentiate, it just picks numbers. Then Metacritic uses it’s own scale to measure those other scores, determining if it was a positive, mixed, or negative review.

        Everything gets lost in translation. The fact that there is no universal scale and there can not be because scores are subjective, it’s an incredibly flawed system that most outlets are using.

        I dropped using numbers a while back and basically just do a yes or no system:

        My scoring system isn’t perfect but I feel it at least gives a better idea than an abstract number.

      2. I know a few sites are changing and a lot of indie sites don’t use numbers but more of the larger outlets need to follow.

    1. Whether you attach a number to it or not, it can be numbered- euro gamer is proving this by removing scores yet having scores via Google.

  7. “Developers say…” anything that criticizes their games by calling out its faults or flaws is damaging. You never heard developer complain when their game got a score above 80.

    I think the current situation with “The Order: 1886” really has developers worried. We shouldn’t support lazy devs by buying their games and encouraging their laziness habits.

    One thing is for sure when it comes to quality games… (that’s right, you know what I’m about to say)… Nintendo.

    1. Quality, but literally zero quantity. That’s why third parties are so important, as bad as they may be, they MUST be there for consumer to choose games from. And there are gems like GTA too

      1. I absolutely agree that Nintendo’s strength is quality over quantity. But if you had to choose would you have it any other way?

  8. When Metacritic is used as a means to determine bonuses for developers it is 100% ridiculous- however this isn’t meta critics fault but that of the publisher.

    An avg round up of reviews gives the consumer an idea of how many people liked the game vs who didn’t. The higher the score, the more people liked it. The greatee the chance the consumer will as well. Of course, preferred genre and experience also play a large role in whether or not a game is for a certain individual.

    Any developer who says that review scores stagnate innovation is full of shit. Clearly the last batch of games released from AC, Watch Dogs, Destiny, Alien: Isolation, etc showed that if anything, broken games with little to no innovation get dinged hard by reviewers. Innovation is welcome, developers simply choose to make games that have none. Which is fine, so long as the experience is solid- lately it hasn’t been.

    1. Yea, you have a point. I do think reviews are needed in this industry, but honestly all review scores are subjective anyways. I can’t tell you how many games I played that had a 6-10, or a 5-10 that I thought were brilliant games. Thats why review ‘scores’ themselves can be bad, because the guy rating the game could be a complete dumbass.

      1. Review scores can be nonsensical but it really does depend on the person reviewing it. I tend to give a reviewer a 10% leway. If it’s 10% above or 10% below the avg score it’s fair. I never played Halo 4 but when I read a review giving it a 4 out of 10 when its avs is a 90 I knew right away the person was either a dick or not suited to write the review. Same goes gamespot and giantbombs reviews of Rainbow Curse- they are way to far from the avg score to actually be taken seriously.

      1. Out of everything I said, you decide to call me out on whether or not I played Isolation? Nope! Have not, but I have listened to what a few outlets’ thought of the game and its a heck of an avg game that had issues even following a patch. It had its good ideas here and there but ultimately fell flat.

      1. The Sonyans, although a creation that got created by mistake, are mostly corrupted by these same forces, once they are gone, they shall return to their roots again…

  9. All Metacritic does is collect the reviews and average the scores. You can see how many a reviews have been done on a specific game. If it’s one review and a low score, I would be hesitant to call it a bad game. However, if you have 20-som-odd reviews and the score is still low, then I would say that a game is probably bad. You will likely get biased reviews in either direction, but if you are getting a bunch, then it’s a safe bet that the average is a reliable score. I don’t understand why people have problem with scores. It’s the easiest way for you to see what this reviewer thought of a game. If they take they score away, you are still going to be left with one person’s subjective opinion.

  10. This is some of the worst BS I ever heard. This statements are only said because companies like EA and Activision can make the same game year after year so they don’t need to innovate and less expensive to bribe reviewers for a high score. It’s damaging for reviewers because they don’t get bribed since justice is served trough MetaCritic so there’s no point for developers/publishers to bribe them.

  11. The problem with metacritic is that it can encourage companies to pay to get good scores to help sales. I can’t say metacritic doesn’t affect what games I purchase completely, but I usually prefer looking at other user reviews on youtube to see what they say about the games. Also, I usually buy some games because I enjoyed the previous installments in the series like Pokemon mystery dungeon games although Gates to Infinity should have had more of a aftergame. Finally, if a company makes games that I enjoyed like Atlus, Square Enix, Nintendo, and more I may buy the games regardless of scores. I don’t consider Metacritic to always give reviews I agree with, but it isn’t completely horrible with scores. Except for the personal review section in which you can give games a 1/10 to games you didn’t even play which is ridiculous or troll reviews.

    1. The flaw in your statement that it “may encourage companies to pay for good reviews” is that clearly, going by metacritics avg score most companies would have to pay more than just one site to give them a good score. Besides, if you look at the avg score of most of Ubis, EAs and Activisons titles this year, the companies that are demonized as the ones most likely to pay off reviewers, you can tell that’s not the case.

  12. Order 1886 is worth all the scores it is getting. Developers cannot make assassins creed unity and expect us to blindly buy it.


      1. According to Tom of Toonami, The Order might as well have been a bloody movie with a shooter mini game in the Special Features section. With that in mind, my interest in that game went down the toilet.

  13. I agree completely, for so long I used to only buy ‘good’ games, however now I just look at what the game has to offer, and whether I would like it, not critics.

  14. There are plenty of games I like a lot with yellow Metacritic scores. I think it’s important to use your judgement. However, when on the fence about a game I still think it’s a useful indicator.

  15. Or you know you could start testing your games before releasing shit like Sonic Baam and Ass ass ins creed unity.

  16. Metacritic summed up:
    Game magazines give crappy games high scores because they are paid to.
    Game players give games accurate scores based on what they think about the games.

    Metacritic score: 95
    Use score: 20

    There is nothing wrong with honesty. If you want more people to buy your games, make better games. You’re fooling no one.

  17. Translation: This makes it even harder for us to trick people into buying our shitty games. We’re going to have to step up our Miiverse bribes and plants by 50% to make up for lost revenue!

    1. How would it trick people? You mean people can’t read reviews by themselves and judge if they care about the cons stated?






  19. I think trusting a group of people’s reviews together would be more credible than trusting 1 individual review. Metacritic may be restricting innovation, but it does benefit some more obscure games to gain popularity and sales like shovel knight.




  21. But, without reviews, how are gamers supposed to know what games are good and which ones are bad?

    Are these developers suggesting that gamers BUY a game BEFORE judging it based on the reviews it receives?- That is impossible. Gamers don’t have the kind of money for that. We need to pick and choose which ones are worth our money. Also, I know for a fact my money would have been spent on a LOT of trash games had it not been for reviews, especially on Metacritic, to tell me otherwise.

    Reviews help the consumer (the most important person on the sales equation). Just because it is detrimental to the producers, doesn’t mean they need to stop. It is the producer’s job to work their way around the system. Consumer wants and needs can NEVER be blamed.

    As the old saying goes, “The customer (consumer) is always right.”

    1. No, they’re critisizing Metacritic, which only gets the average score. You got it wrong, they’re perfectly fine with reviews, because it does inform the consumer

      1. Next week’s article, “Developers say that reviews obsession is damaging to video games”.

  22. Not sure if anyone else does this but while looking at a score is simplified, I prefer reading those reviews who praise the game and look down on the game. Reviews are still opinionated pieces put together. There is not just one review made by one person but MULTIPLES!! Also doesn’t cover why the critic or gamer gave this rating.

    1. They collect review scores from a ton of gaming news websites’ reviews, then get an average score out of it.

  23. I use . I don’t generally buy a game that gets less than 8.5 but will make exception for a genre or franchise that I really like. If it’s less than 7.0 then forget about it.

  24. Never let a number control what you think of a game. I you want to have any insight into what a game is like without playing it, you are going to have to do some reading, the more the better.

  25. Am I the only one who finds it strange that an article like this only popped up after Nintendo used an infographic concerning Metacritic to point out some of the Wii U’s highest-scoring games?

  26. I go to metacritic, but that doesn’t ultimately doesn’t a win situation for me. I look at gameplay videos to see if I like it. Then I look at metacritic to see what others think. 80s is generally good for me. 90s is must have and 70s can be good or bad, depending on a person’s taste.

  27. @Anonymous Same here, I generally first read and check out a few reviews then watch a Let’s Play or Walkthrough to get a generally understanding of what I will be buying. I enjoy many of the games I won because of this strategy. Highly recommend it.

  28. What? I call bullshit because Metacritic has been around for years & they are just now saying it’s damaging to the video game industry? lmfao More like they are saying this now because major games, that are skipping Wii U, like Assassins’s Creed ShitUnity, The Order 1886, etc are getting bad scores while the majority of Nintendo games are getting good scores. And people think those of us that believe in a conspiracy against Nintendo are paranoid. This is just one more thing that makes me wonder that maybe my paranoia is not so crazy as some people think.

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