Topic of the Week: Do you care about review scores? | PCGamesN

Topic of the Week: Do you care about review scores?

Topic of the Week: Review Scores

The lovely folks over at Eurogamer have kicked review scores to the curb today, and Joystiq did the same last month. No more numbers, lurking at the bottom of reviews, inciting impotent rage and awkward comparisons. But maybe they’re helpful and will be missed. I don’t know! That’s why this week’s Topic of the Week is all about review scores, and what you make of all these funny little numbers. 

It’s worth noting that asking what you fine people think about review scores doesn’t mean we’re considering dumping then. But maybe we are! We’re an enigma, at PCGamesN. Perhaps we’ll end our reviews with pictures of cats. Should we use cats instead of numbers? Let us know in the comments. 

As always, I’ll get the ball rolling. 

Yes, I think we should use cats instead of numbers. Or lizards wearing hats. Or maybe pictures of my dog, Max, wearing various cool bandanas. He has one with a skulls printed on it, and it just makes me giggle every time. Awww, look at him. 

If a game is especially great, like Sunless Sea, which I recently reviewed and gushed about, then we could score it with two cute animals.


Anyway, that’s enough from me (and Max). Tell us what you think about review scores.

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Stinkflipper Incarnate avatarMctittles avatarhiddnsaccade avatarBelimawr avatarMountain_Man avatarMrJinxed avatar+13
Mctittles Avatar
3 Years ago

I think review scores should score more things separately. A game can be fun but look like garbage, have terrible menu systems, or be poorly optimized. Minecraft comes to mind. So many things done wrong with that game, from sound balance to lack of polish, but I have had many hours of fun with the game. You can't put all of that in one number but you can review each component separately.


And start rating sound in games! Since microsoft killed directSound and we had a lack of surround for a period of time people seemed to start giving up on caring about sound all together. I still care and no review ever mentions the quality of sound or the inclusion of surround sound.

1N07 Avatar
3 Years ago

The score doesn't affect by purchase decision in the least, but it might waken my interest in reading the review.

Stinkflipper Incarnate Avatar

I care about review scores, but I don't like them much. Generally, the more "exact" they become, the less I like them. Scoring something on a 0-100 scale (or using decimals), for instance... completely crazy. 0-10 is better, but not much.

The main problem is that games today are so diverse that it makes so little sense to score them all on the same scale. A two hour "walking simulator" vs a hundred hours rpg epic, getting the same score? It makes no sense. Yet they might both be equally worth recommending.

Shriven Avatar
3 Years ago

Id prefer a game summed up with an adjective rather than a number.

Just what I would do given the chance :D

unwanted Avatar
3 Years ago

Alpha Protocol should be one of the main reasons to get rid of scores. PC Gamer's Dragon Age 2 score should be another.

Scores always feel tacked on. What really is an 8.8? And as others have mentioned, sites now operate between 7-10 so the can tear a game a new one and give it an 8. What's the point of reading the review if people are just going to look at the score?

Pseudonym Avatar
3 Years ago

I don't care about one number - if I care that much about one person's thoughts I can read the review.

I do care about metacritic, and scores do contribute to that.

Grgoljblaster Avatar
3 Years ago

Honestly, I'm either for ditching the scores completely or for using a simplified system of rounded numbers (1-5 or 1-10 like you're using). Descriptive scores are fine, too.

Is an 82 game actually better than a game that got 81? What if they both got the same score? Does it mean they're equal? Why didn't the game score 80 or 85, then? It's just too arcane and usually leads to arguments between readers.

Many times I had to cross-reference my older reviews for the games in the same genre as the one I was reviewing at the time, trying to place it in the already established margins.

The whole thing wouldn't be too scary right now if it wasn't for Metacritic and similar aggregators that rank games solely based on their scores, creating this weird ecosystem where the final score is the first (and often only) part of a review that reader cares about.

hiddnsaccade Avatar
3 Years ago

It all depends on the game for me. If it's a game that I've been excited about, then I don't mind reading through a bunch of text to find out whether or not it's good. On the other hand, if it's a game that I've never heard of before, or do not care much about, then I'll usually check the review score before reading the article. If it gets a good score, then I'll read the article to find out what made it good. If it gets a poor score then I don't waste my time and I move on.

I think that at the very least a review should contain some sort of summary or tl;dr, so that a person can tell at a glance whether or not a title is worth further investigation without having to try to glean the information from a long review.

I wouldn't care much for cats, but I like lizards wearing hats. And ducklings.

Belimawr Avatar
3 Years ago

stores are pointless as far as I see it, most sites only work between 6 and 10 meaning the numbers are pointless as it instantly rates everything as above average.


also you have the side effect of no matter what score you give a game people will argue why it should be higher or lower as they can't see that score is just one persons opinion, where the removal of a score forces people to read the review and actually make a decision on how good they think the game will be with all the information given, instead of working off a score then coming complaining that the score should have been different.

MrJinxed Avatar
3 Years ago

Game review scores are idiotic at best. For some reason, all review sites don't utilize the full 10 scale, but instead start at 7 if the game is halfway decent. Anything below 7 should be avoided like the plague.

I don't know why that has become the norm, but it has been like that for seemingly ever. Most things get 8 or 9, and truth be told, most reviewers these days are almost always really bad at their jobs these days. Gone are the passionate reviews from sites that has proven they can be trusted, like for example the Adrenaline Vault.

When I form an opinion on whether or not I'm going to get a new game, I check social media sites, like forums and reddit, and so on to read what people are saying about it, and I check youtube videos or twitch streams, and ask friends. That's usually enough to be sure about a game.

Soxekaj Avatar
3 Years ago

Don't care about the number, never have. What I do care about is the reasoning behind the number, which is why I mostly watch video reviews.

Htorne Avatar
3 Years ago

I do like scores, they are basically the TL:DR of game reviews.

Some times I just want to confirm my beliefs about a particular game, without reading potential spoilers, other times I simply don't have time to dive into a review.

misesfan Avatar
3 Years ago

Another further complication - will the review scores change over time as problems get removed and features get added? Tom Chick has a good theory on gaming scores - basically they are meaningless. Especially the average scores that most games fall into - some parts good, some parts bad, so buyer beware, I guess. Tom has more knowledge of games than pretty much anyone I have read or listened to - and I definitely agree with him on this issue.

For example, I have a love and passion for hockey, beyond reason. So, even though I know NHL 15 is/was a bomb, I still need to buy the damn thing because its hockey. So the reviews for me will be a bit skewed, if that makes sense. ;)

ruthers Avatar
3 Years ago

I think appropriate scores (ie 1-5, not 1-100) are useful at a glance if you are just looking at many reviews to get a quick feel. Assuming you use the score to summarise the full review instead of reading it, I think having separate scores for different elements is more useful, as is a quick list of specifics the game did particularly well or particularly poorly. Also, a "if you like x,y or z then you'll probably like this game" can help.

It's all subjective though so it comes down to learning the people reviewing and eventually finding reviewers you trust! :)

Mountain_Man Avatar
3 Years ago

I care less about the score than I do the content of the review. For me, the perfect review is one where the reviewer gives me enough unbiased and factual information that I can make up my own mind regardless of what score is actually awarded.

Tovias Avatar
3 Years ago


Reivews should be just describing the good and bad points of the game without letting bias get in the middle, like remarking how fluid the combat is along with a description of why they though sho, or explaning why the leveling system is completely retarded. The score makes everything so utterly pointless, why even write about the game if people will only pay attention to the big numbers at the end?

What's more, review scores are shaddy as fuck, companies like EA, Capcom, Activision, even Ubisoft are famous for bribing reviewers and what not, it amazes me that even today people pay attention to these.

DevilSShadoW Avatar
3 Years ago

Review scores are toxic. They fuel the metacritic culture of simplifying things to a point where it has no relation to the thing it originated from. It also make a large number of people skip past the entire review just to get to the number at the end of it. Which goes back to the "encouraging bad behavior" problem.

Dog Pants Avatar
3 Years ago

I like the idea of giving every game Max Rating. It's very positive.

ChefTicles Avatar
3 Years ago

All this is, is a reactionary trend among snobbish intellectual fantasists who think by not giving a game a final score in a review, they're somehow going to be perceived as rising above the rabble and being taken seriously as critics. Eurogamer is one of the worst offenders of this in my opinion, they so desperately want to be seen as something more than just a website for videogames.

Seems to me Eurogamer and it's ilk have turned into a club for hipster gamers, with faux bohemian views. There's absolutely nothing wrong with giving a game a final score, nor is there anything wrong with using an aggregate site like Metacritic or Game Rankings.

My decision on purchasing a game is not made solely on the numerical aggregate score given by one of the aforementioned websites, rather I'll look at the score then read several reviews and formulate an opinion as a whole.