We’ve changed the way we score video games a few times now: five-star, 10-point scale, back to five-star, and earlier this year back to a modified 10-point scale (really a 30-point scale). It’s the on aspect of reviewing games that I’ve never liked. I’ve never liked the so called 10-point scale that has become, for some reason, the gaming industry standard. The scale doesn’t make sense (hey IGN, what’s the difference between an 8.2 and an 8.3?) and is totally useless.
Too many gamers focus entirely on the numerical score a game receives and then try to act like every scale is the same. A game that scores a 6, which on our scale currently means “Above Average,” is somehow construed to be a bad game. Studios are closed down because their game doesn’t hit a magical number on the horrible website that is Metacritic. Developers go to hire and make the requirement that you must have worked on a game that averaged an 8.5 rating on Metacritic?
We’re not a part of Metacritic, and we never will be. We don’t want to be part of Metacritic, and we certainly don’t want them taking our review scale and twisting it to fall into their horrible average. In fact, we’re not even going to do the industry standard anymore because it is a horrible system that ought to be abolished completely.
On January 1, 2013, we’re going to debut our new review scale. For the first time in our site’s history though, we’re going to have a unified review scale. We’ve been using a 10-point scale for games, a five-star scale for movies, and book reviews have been all over the place with the reviewer using whatever scale they wanted to use. Beginning January 1st, that will no longer be the case.
We’ll be switching over to a unified 4-star scale. No half stars. The highest rating anything can achieve is four stars, and the lowest rating anything can achieve is one star.
It’s really an easy system to understand across all mediums. Here’s the breakdown:
4 Stars – No game (movie/book/album) is perfect, but this is a game (movie/book/album) we think is a “must play (watch/read/listen).” Buy it as soon as possible.
3 Stars – This is a game (movie/book/album) we find easy to recommend, but it may not be for everyone and you may want to demo it or rent it before purchasing.
2 Stars – This game (movie/book/album) has a few bright spots or good ideas, and there is some fun (enjoyment) to be had, but your money would be better spent on something else unless you find it in the bargain bin.
1 Star – This game (movie/book/album) should never have been made; it does nothing right and has no redeeming qualities. Stay away.
So that is our new review scale beginning January 1st. It’s one scale to cover everything we’d review: games, movies, books, albums, whatever. It makes sense and it’s easy for everyone to understand. On January 1st, we’ll begin the process of retrofitting all of our reviews to reflect the new review scale, but each review will have the original review score listed in it so you’ll know what we originally scored it with the old system.
This obviously isn’t the first time we’ve changed our gaming scale, but it is the first time we’ve ever changed our scale for movie reviews (which dates back to 2005) and the first time we’ve ever had an official review scale for books and albums.
This is a permanent change. We won’t be switching back to a 10-point scale for games every again. You’re going to be able to come to our site, read any type of review, and know exactly what we the score truly means across all mediums. It’s the fairest and easiest to understand system I think, and that it’s unified across all mediums should make for a better review system.