Developers, one man controls your destiny

Metacritic is still edited by just one man, Marc Doyle. But his focus remains very much on the reason why it was established in the first place. “ I really see myself as a kind of gatekeeper to tell people that these are the games you should be paying attention to, ” he declares. His role is to gather scores and comments for every game released in the US, choosing which publications are included and concocting the formula that combines them into a single number.

Oh boy.

Heh, “With great power comes great responsibility”

Dude, if he’s the gatekeeper, who’s the keymaster?

Also, if he’s directing attention to games that people need to pay attention to by aggregating scores, how come Okami didn’t sell ten billion copies? I think that his theory is empirically denied.

I bet that dude could live the good life on “consultancies” with game devs and “speaker fees” and so forth.

He’s a bit like Sauron; his 90+ scores for some EA, Actiblizzard and 2K games are three Elven rings, wielding great power. But ultimately, they all fall under the shadow of Metacritic.

Fuck metacritic.

Also, marketing, which pretty much lives and breathes by metacritic nowadays.

I agree.
And what retards set peoples bonuses by metacritic scores? Surely bonuses are paid out of SALES, not out of magic review-score pixiedust?
I’d rather have a nice selling game than a nciely reviewed game. Good reviews are great (especially if they are from reviewers you respect), but if 10,000 people buy your game, then 10,000* people reviewed it as “worth their hard earned cash”. That’s the best possible endorsement.

*I’d love to say 100,000, but I’d be kidding myself :D

Perhaps the big gaming businesses treat sales as a marketing and high-level market analysis thing and reviews as a good design and execution thing? Just making things up here.

Most publishers. Unfortunately.

Call me crazy, but I’d rather have publishers paying more attention to reviews than sales. I mean, isn’t the traditional complaint that they do the reverse, and reward trash that sells well instead of innovative and interesting games that don’t quite find an audience?

Except that this way you’re getting the worst of both worlds - the developers get paid based on their reviews, but the development decisions are driven by sales. So if your game isn’t reviewed exceptionally well, you don’t get your bonus, but even if it is, if it doesn’t sell an assload of copies, you don’t get to make a sequel.

In theory, in a star-trek future maybe. But publishers have shareholders and bonuses and wages need to come from profits. While those two things are true, publishers and developers will have to (by neccesity) care more for sales than reviews.

Publishers investing so much worth into metacritic scores seems like a situation ripe for payola. Companies like Eidos have been walking a fine line over that sort of thing already.

It would be interesting to see what Mr. Doyle would do if he woke up one morning to find that every review site and magazine suddenly stopped assigning numbers/stars/dingbats to their reviews.

Are you kidding? He’d be the happiest person in the world.

Why? Because then THEY’D ASSIGN THEIR OWN SCORES, which they already claim to do for reviews that don’t have scores. And suddenly the site would become that much more useful for the masses to whom reviews are meaningless without ratings attached to them.

Big companies care about things like brand integrity too and reviews are a decent, if not perfect, way of gauging this. If a game sells 1 million copies (due to the license, for example) but makes the publisher a laughing stock that has a significant lasting cost.

Since the guy won’t reveal his methods, he could be taking money for score placement, magazine placement, you name it. It’s a big black hole that these scores materialize out of and it’s run by one guy.

Someone needs to drop this on John Riccitiello’s desk and ask him how he feels about having all his shareholders and development hinging on one man’s opinion of game magazine’s opinions…

I’m very surprised this story hasn’t exploded all over the Internet today like an atom bomb. Then again, it does confirm what I’ve often said, people really don’t give a shit what we all write. They just want some scores to fight over.

Er, why? It’s a fairly dry look behind the scenes at Metacritic. What’s the huge “atom bomb” scandal you see in it?

Yeah, not only do they assign what they guess is the relative score for a review without a score, they’re also weighting the reviews based on the “stature” or the reviewer, or some other nonsense.

Publishers gauging how well games are doing compared to other games based on Metacritic? That’s perfectly reasonable, if it’s taken as a single metric. But putting a clause in my contract that says my bonuses are determined by one fucking site’s dubious method of aggregating scores? That’s fucking bullshit. Not to mention the fact that game criticism isn’t exactly a mature discipline. A single bad review from some cellar dwelling talentless dipshit can curve a score. Let’s say your contract says that you get a certain bonus at an 80 Metacritic score and a larger bonus at 90. A singe bad score from can affect the pay of an entire development team, you could go from bonus x2 to bonus x1, or from bonus x1 to bonus x0.

It’s complete and utter laziness on the part of the publishers and it’s enraging to developers. I’m also pretty surprised that people haven’t made a bigger deal over this shit.

Did you miss the first post?!

I really see myself as a kind of gatekeeper to tell people that these are the games you should be paying attention to,

This one guy is deciding the fate of developers. One. Guy.