Top
Insert Thought Provoking Quote Here

DragonKnight

Contributor
CRank: 9Score: 211970
10°

Metacritic, Uncharted 4, and Developer Money... Oh My....

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.

https://www.washingtonpost....

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.

http://vgsales.wikia.com/wi...

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.

https://www.youtube.com/wat...

The story is too old to be commented.
tinynuggins1851d ago

A review of a review!? This is crazy. Everyone knows metacritic has flaws. I look at any meta score and know that my opinion May be 20 points higher or lower that that average.

Sweetbrandigirl1851d ago (Edited 1851d ago )

I'm got a little crow to pick with you first which games are a perfect 10 is subjective. You state no game is a perfect 10, I beg to differ TLOU was not only a perfect 10 it was more like an 11 on a 0-10 scale. Next you state that

" 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. "

Again I beg to differ Nate ability to shoot isn't on him it's on YOU so your stated comment tells me its YOU who sucks at shooting and not Nathan. Also combat is hardly the main form of game play in UC4 as there is far less combat and far more climbing and platforming, something I wish they hadn't done as I enjoy to combat more then the climbing. As for you opinions on TWP and on Medacrtic I couldn't agree more. And speaking as a rabid Sony Fangirl let me say I signed the petition with the Dev in mind knowing how many hours of hard work and late nights they'd put into this game made me outraged at the audacity of TWP to give a MasterPiece as UC4 such a disgusting score.

DragonKnight1848d ago

"You state no game is a perfect 10, I beg to differ TLOU was not only a perfect 10 it was more like an 11 on a 0-10 scale."

Incorrect. TLOU is not a perfect, flawless game. Believing so calls into question many things, not the least of which are general perception. TLOU has its share of bugs, and its share of bad moments, meaning it's not a perfect game. A 10 does not denote perfection, it denotes complete satisfaction such that any problems are seen as minor at most and not at all detrimental to the overall experience.

"Again I beg to differ Nate ability to shoot isn't on him it's on YOU so your stated comment tells me its YOU who sucks at shooting and not Nathan."

Incorrect. Combat has been a complaint many have had with the entire series. The gunplay is poorly done and that's a fact. I'm no UC fanboy so the terrible gunplay stuck out like a sore thumb to me. TLOU has better combat than UC4.

"Also combat is hardly the main form of game play in UC4 as there is far less combat and far more climbing and platforming, something I wish they hadn't done as I enjoy to combat more then the climbing."

Climbing is a movement mechanic, gunplay is the actual gameplay mechanic. The climbing is also done poorly.

Sweetbrandigirl1848d ago

Again as I stated which games are a perfect 10 is subjective and if we use your scale and I quote

"A 10 does not denote perfection, it denotes complete satisfaction such that any problems are seen as minor at most and not at all detrimental to the overall experience."

Using your scale then TLOU is a perfect game IMO as I have enjoyed playing it over 25 times and most likley will play it again a time or two. TLOU had grittier more brutal combat whether it was better is again subjective and a matter of opinion.

DragonKnight1848d ago

Incorrect. The scale is not subjective. How the number is explained may be subjective, but it is an objective fact that there is no such thing as a perfect game. All games with a 10/10 score still have problems and honest reviewers will mention those flaws, hence to claim a game is literally perfect is dishonest.

You are arguing semantics.

freshslicepizza1850d ago

reviews should only be used as a source to maybe help decide on the game but not your only source. metacritic just amalgamates all the scores out there but the real problem are the scores that kind of go off the beaten path. this is why people like jim sterling get such attention. often he has gone against the grain and some want to see him burn at the stake for it.

when jeff gurtsmann was fired from gamespot years ago for his low review of kane and lynch. it was the final straw after other low reviews were questioned by management for other games like ratchet and clank future. you see, gamespot gets revenue from advertising and when companies like eidos sees their game kane and lynch get low review scores they pull that advertising deal. it's a shady business practice and why many mock the famous game host geoff keighley and make meme's with him and dorito's and such.

there is a vested interest out there to get your games to have high reviews because it can impact sales and the gaming community eats it up like candy. i actually don't even use metacritic as a source anymore, i look at this instead.

http://www.opencritic.com/

things will only get worse. we have that clown pewpewdie making a huge name for himself, angry joe and other so called independant hosts out there who have made a living doing reviews and commentaries that social media heats up around too. one of the few honest people out there is jim sterling because he doesn't care about advertising paying his bills. he will actually fight and question things like intellectual property being used in youtube and such. but when you are an employee for a company that relies on advertising revenue you cen bet there is pressure to make sure your reviews are on the high side. that's why 5 is not an average score.

we as a community need to be the better person here because things won't change unless our attitudes also change. attacking each other over a questionable review won't solve anything. all it does is empower the reviewer. if we want more from them then we should also expect more from ourselves.

DragonKnight1848d ago

For once you and I agree on something.

ginganinja1850d ago

I think the whole mess is just another example of gaming needing to grow up.

Metacritic, like any other similar site (e.g. rotten tomatoes), isn't beholden to any developer or publisher. How they choose to rate games is entirely up to them.
There's nothing to stop us setting up Lookatallthesescores.com tomorrow, and decide rather than aggregating the actual scores sites give games, we use our own 'secret algorithm' (involving throwing darts at a board).
People have spoken out about the flaws in metacritic for years, and if developers and such are still dependent on it for bonuses then, more fool them. It's something that should be dealt with between developers and publishers. A reviewer should be reviewing the game, not concerning themselves with the welfare of the sound designers' new child.

If you look on metacritic, they also aggregate scores for films, music and tv. The ratings for those are a lot more varied than games are, which is as it should be. Even things you might believe to be 'critically acclaimed' are 'languishing' in the 60 and 70s. And yet nobody really cares too much, because, it doesn't matter.
Metacritic's job for a prospective customer is to go, 'this thing has an average score of this. If you're interested in finding out more, then go through to the site(s) and read the full review.'

DragonKnight1848d ago

"I think the whole mess is just another example of gaming needing to grow up."

This isn't an issue of maturity. Fanboys and fangirls can espouse the merits of their games of choice receiving high scores all they want, it won't amount to anything if the sales aren't there. We've seen critically successful games tank in sales. The issue is the out-of-touch suits that create whole business models around review scores. These people are statisticians, market analysts, and generally walking number crunchers. They don't pay attention to community or voices at all. They see "X game got 93 on metacritic and then went on to sell 20 million copies, therefore metacritic is crucial to success."

And to dismiss metacritic's hold on the livelihood of developers as "not their problem" implies they are ignorant to the whole thing. Metacritic are purposely vague about the weight they put behind sites. This is at least a conscious effort to affect the final meta score on the site. If they were truly just an aggregate site, then like N4G they would create a system where all scores can be submitted and count to the total and only weed out what are obvious troll reviews. Or, again like N4G, allow the community to submit reviews and then go through an analysis process of if the review is legit. There should be no "weight" put behind sites, no random low score coming from out of nowhere from some no-name site dropping the meta score down a few points. Metacritic knows what they are doing, and they are the problem. Not the reviewers themselves, metacritic.

ginganinja1848d ago

"And to dismiss metacritic's hold on the livelihood of developers as "not their problem" implies they are ignorant to the whole thing. Metacritic are purposely vague about the weight they put behind sites"

But there's the rub. If you were a suit for a multi-million pound publisher, making decisions that could affect the livelyhood of your staff and company, would you really put your faith in statistics which have little merit, because you have no way of knowing how they came to be?
I agree, metacritic is 'the problem'. I just think how big a problem is down to how much respect you afford them. And, if companies are using the metacritic rating as an important factor in their decision making, (especially if they can't discern how it was reached) then that seems pretty naive - especially when you could work out an unweighted average yourself in a couple of minutes.

"And to dismiss metacritic's hold on the livelihood of developers as "not their problem" implies they are ignorant to the whole thing."
No, i said 'more fool them.' Because if someone came to me and said, 'you know what, we're going to base your bonuses on a system that we all agree is broken and may bear no connection to the actual worth of the work you've done,' I'm going to at least say, 'really ? can we talk about this ?'

DefenderOfDoom21849d ago

Good read. The only thing Metacritic is good for, is a place to READ a bunch of different reviews all on one site. A number really doesn't tell you anything about the game.

Show all comments (15)