So, seems Uncharted 4 has been doing well, that is unless you are a game critic at The Washington Post. Then your review becomes the catalyst for a flustercuck in the gaming community with article after article talking about how either gamers are entitled whiners who care too much about scores, or metacritic sucks.
Let's get some things clear right off the bat.
The Washington Post review of Uncharted 4 is NOT a satire. I repeat, it is NOT a satire. Any of you thinking that because TWP has a subsidiary named Comic Riffs (a riff meaning a kind of joke, or rib on something but not to be taken seriously), that means that the review is a satire are wrong. Read the comment section of the review, and you'll have your confirmation that the review is 100% cereal.
Next, the review is both a problem and at the same time not the problem. Most people are more upset with metacritic for a few reasons than they are with the review. The review itself has its own problems which I'll talk about later, but the main issue here is metacritic.
Why is metacritic the problem? Well there are a number of reasons. Some pertinent to the present story, others a long lasting string of issues that have been ever present.
There is an idea that metacritic issued a numbered score to the review submitted by TWP of their own volition. The reasoning behind this thought process comes from a policy metacritic has for music and movie reviews where they actually have admitted to adding numerical scores to reviews of either media that do not have numbered scores in the review. Logically this should make anyone believe that they wouldn't be above doing the same for video games. Metacritic, in a tweet stated that TWP submitted a numerical score AFTER the review was submitted to metacritic.
This is where things get complicated. See, I was shown evidence that this is a common theme for TWP's gaming reviews. They did this with Quantum Break, they did it with Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, it seems to be something they just do. At the same time, I have a hard time believing this as only metacritic has come forward with this information, TWP has said nothing of this. So when you take that, and you add their policy for music and movie reviews, it's easy not to trust metacritic. They could be wholly innocent in this, but there are other issues at hand.
For starters, as far as we can see TWP is the only review source that does this. They are by no means the only reviewer that makes reviews with no score, they aren't even the biggest ones to do that. Kotaku does it, I believe Polygon does it, lost of sites do it. Why should we believe that this is something only TWP does? Then again, why shouldn't we believe it?
There's also the fact that we have to ask why metacritic allows this and uses a late numerical score to affect the metascore? This is where the real problems begin. A review submitted with no score should not later be considered in the metascore because the reviewer decided to email MC with a number for the review. That's just dishonest and unfair to both developers and other review sites who actually find having their review scores show up on MC to be a measure of success.
But why all of this petition stuff and aggression over one review? Is it because Sony fanboys are rabid and numerous and can't handle their precious having a negative score on metacritic? Given the reception to Neo, I'd say that that's a distinct possibility.
Let's not forget however that UC4 was killing it in reviews. In fact I think that the TWP score was the only real negative review UC4 has received to this point, and that itself presents another problem. Clearly the review is clickbait. We see it happen all the time. Popular, highly anticipated game comes out to rave reviews, no-name site (in this case for gaming reviews only) wants traffic and hammers universally praised game as actually being terrible. Chaos ensues. Doesn't matter what game from what platform, this happens all the time.
The review is garbage. That alone is reason enough to remove it from the metascore. I'm not a fan of the Uncharted series. I played 5 minutes of the first game and hated it. I skipped 2 and 3 entirely. Over the years since the first game released, I played similar titles like Tomb Raider 2013 and TLOU which I enjoyed. As I watched a playthrough of UC4, I found myself wanting to try it out more and more so I caved in and got it. If I were to review it, I'd give it a 7/10. The game looks beautiful, but reminds me too much of Assassin's Creed 4 with worse parkour. Combat is tedious to the point where I question why, in 15 years, Drake has not been able to become a better shot. We know the combat was purposely designed to not be as good as a traditional shooter, but if it's the main form of gameplay, get it right for goodness sake. Overall, I think the game is ok. Nothing special, but I can't deny how breathtaking it is and how well it's written. Plus... Crash frickin' Bandicoot. Now Sony can say it's on PS4 the bastards.
But the TWP review? Absolute nonsense. The correct and traditional scale for numbered scores puts 0-4 as being the absolute worst of the worst, and 5-10 as being average to amazing. No game is perfect. A 10 doesn't mean perfect. It means any flaws you notice are so insignificant it's not worth mentioning, or they don't detract from the fun. 5 is average. Not great but not terrible. 0 is Steam Greenlight. 4 represents a below average game with poor mechanics and technical problems. None of that can be said about Uncharted 4. Yes, climbing can be tedious, but it's not broken. Uncharted 4 is a remarkably polished game, both in the artistic details and in the technical details. A 4 out of 10 is intellectually dishonest, purposely misleading, and calls into question the reviewers personal bias as well as if they even played the game. But, we don't even know that the reviewer themselves would even have scored it a 4 out of 10. All we know is that MC have said that TWP messaged them that number. Who at TWP sent it is a mystery.
So why is this such a big problem. Well if we remove the fanboyism surrounding this game, the developers, and the publisher; we get to the fact that there are contract stipulations that hold developer bonuses hostage behind metacritic scores. We've seen this with Activision, EA, and it was even rumoured once long ago that Sony partook in this practice as well.
To think that Metacritic are naive about this merely proves the naivety of one who'd actually believe that. MC definitely knows, and definitely would love to remind developers that they have all the say in their bonuses. MC are vague about their process of vetting reviews and reviewers, who holds more weight and why, etc.. TWP's review knocked UC4's metascore down a full point, and that is a clear message to devs. Any review that MC wants, at any time they want to use it, can impact your bonus. Their over reach and sway are the problem here, and that is what needs to be challenged, that is what needs to be attacked. If UC4 needs to be the catalyst for that, then I say so be it.
Now some people have no sympathy for devs. They think that devs make tons of money and probably see Cliffy B, David Jaffe, or Hideo Kojima as perfect examples of how devs are making the big bucks.
A game designers average salary is advertised at $70 to $90 thousand U.S. per year. But it's important to consider many factors in this. How do they make their money for example. Salary is dependent on production after all. They have to make a successful game in order to be paid. Most developers have to use publishers to finance their games, and publisher foot the development costs upfront and then later foot the marketing and distribution bills.
A typical game has the following costs.
When a game is released and revenue starts pouring in, the publisher divvies up the revenue according to the costs. The publisher takes what is owed for the development costs, takes a share for themselves, pays for the marketing and distribution costs, and the devs get what's left over. Devs also typically work many more hours than you'd imagine, so that $70-90K has plenty of asterisks next to it. Devs do count on bonus money for their future because many devs work what is essentially piecework jobs. Artists for example get paid for the art they create, but once that's done they aren't getting paid until the next job comes up. They aren't making that hourly wage at a steady job.
So the fact that metacritic can sway the very livelihood of these men and women who, many times, sleep and live at work missing holidays, birthdays, and just regular time off is a serious issue that needs to be addressed and challenged.
You may look at the petition to have the TWP review removed as nothing more than typical Sony fanboys unable to handle a bad review on their Messiah of games from their God developers, and there could be some merit to that. But in reality, it's a fight against metacritic themselves and their whole shady process that so many people have complained about numerous times over the years. I'll leave you with one such example.