What do IGN, Game Informer, GameSpot and Eurogamer all have in common?
They’re popular gaming publications that use the 10 point scale to review their games. Don’t get me wrong; plenty of sites do, including us here at Gaming Unwrapped, and it’s a clean-cut and logical way to do things on the surface.
It’s becoming rather apparent, though, that the “out of 10” way of reviewing isn’t necessarily the best way for things to be done. The numbers are losing their meanings and questionably high expectations are one of the culprits in the matter. A 7/10 is often seen as a straight-up bad game and even an 8/10 is turning out to be a mediocre score to some. As Jim Sterling mentioned in his “Hate out of Ten” episode of the Jimquisition, fans were very displeased with titles such as Uncharted 3 and Batman: Arkham City garnering respectable 8 and 8.5/10.
So what’s the deal? Let’s break it down.
In comparison to the letter grading, it’s understandable why many out there could see a 7/10 as an undesirable score. Getting a big, red C on a test probably wouldn’t please many out there. But even so, to say a game is 70% good, and 30% meh isn’t all that bad in the big picture. Venturing into the realm of the 8/10 is where things start to get confusing. An 80% or higher is a fantastic score by any standards so how could anyone out there be upset that a game received an 8? Sometimes I believe it’s simply because they see that it’s not a 9, or a 10. If it’s not perfection, then it must be garbage? Or maybe it’s due to how many 10′s that have been given out in the last few years. To me a 10 is the pinnacle of the gaming experience, a game to rule them all, and I don’t see a whole lot of jaw-dropping games out there. It’s obvious that the coveted 10 isn’t the precious, rare Unicorn we once thought it to be.
Let’s have a look at some opinions on how the numbers look to some:
“well i look at 10 being AMAZING, 9 being Worth your time, 8 being Above average and 7 being average. anything below 7 is meh. “
“A 6 is a bad and a 7 is mediocre. That just feels like the cutoff for me.”
“Usually that a 10 is near perfect and shouldn’t be missed by anyone,8.5 or above is a must play.While 6-8.5 is recommendation but could pass if you want to and anything below that is just bad going off just score and not worth a purchase”
“mine would be anything below 5 is meh, 6 is playable, 7 is good, 8 and 9 great games but missing something, 10 perfect. Though I’ve played many games that have been rated below 5 and they were amazing.”
“Def below a 7.5 is something i wouldn’t buy, however i loved Wolfenstein and it was a 7.”
“1- Horrible. 2- Very Bad 3- Bad 4 – Lacking 5- Mediocre 6- Average 7- Beyond Average 8- Good 9- Great 10- Masterpiece. That’s generally how I use the system when I write movie reviews. Anything below 6 is usually not worth experiencing to me.”
“5 is where I draw the line. I take a review like a school test. 5 means it failed. 6’s are iffy and usually I listen to what other people say about it (like Downpour…which got 6s and 7s).”
“I try not to put too much weight into scores, but once into the 5s, it starts to seem pretty damned flawed. But the text matters so much more to me.”
Everyone has a slightly different idea of what the numbers mean, although the rather respectable 7 point seems to be where people draw the line at what a “good” game is.
What I firmly believe it should come down to is the text and the true breakdown of a game, as hyrulechozo said above. So here we have culprit two: the “at-a-glance” review check. The score is meant to be a general summary and not the bottom line.
Every reviewer has different standards and an assortment of different aspects could hurt a game’s score. Maybe the music and voice acting was utterly painful, yet the gameplay was good enough to bump up the score. Or the writing was a dream, along with the music, but the gameplay itself was lacking. And just like all reviewers themselves are different, so are all gamers. I, for one, can barely bring myself to overcome atrocious music and voice acting. A game that was given a good score with poor sound would become a chore for me to finish (I may love what Resident Evil once was, but my face turns inside out when I play the early installments). To simply look at a number and judge it from there is ridiculous to me and a lot of people do it this way. Why read a two page review when you can simply look at a couple of numbers? It’s the easy way, right? But it’s far from the thorough way.
The number dilemma is that as cut and dry as it may seem from afar, there’s much more to it than that. The numbers are there to accompany a meatier explanation and the idea that a number sums it up just doesn’t cut it. To have a look at a 6 or a 7 and automatically assume it’s not worth your time might leave you missing out on a title you could fall in love with. And assuming a game that earned itself an 8 is an automatic winner could leave you with a hefty dent in your wallet. To those who feel the need to hate on a score of 8, believing that to be a crappy result, all I can say is you may be fanboying/fangirling far too hard or you’re one hard to please individual.
Then again, paying 69.99 CAD for a new release title is enough to make anyone picky.