Metacritic has long been a method of determining whether a game is worth a purchase. The popular review website aggregates review scores given by various outlets to games, movies, TV shows, and more, and provides an average score to frequenters of the website. There's no problem with necessarily consulting review scores, but weighing the decision to get a game entirely on this isn't always the best methodology, despite other beliefs.
The Tweet Heard Round The World
A recent tweet from Twitter user Hunter has been making the rounds recently for a statement within this vein, albeit coming from the other direction. In the tweet, he indicates that only two games this year have received metascores above 90%, concluding that 2019 was not a shining year for the gaming industry.
These are the only two console games this year that scored above 90%, and one’s a remake. Not the best year for gaming. pic.twitter.com/4NLzjKqKqk— Hunter 🎮 (@NextGenPlayer) October 26, 2019
Posting an image of the remake of Resident Evil 2 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Hunter writes, "These are the only two console games this year that scored above 90%, and one's a remake. Not the best year for gaming."
People immediately responded to the tweet by arguing the worth of a game isn't ultimately dependent on a review score. For example, Twitter user Cody Ward responded to Hunter with a tweet that said to think for himself rather than rely on Metacritic scores.
If metacritic is your sole source for if a game is good or not, I pity your library. Try thinking for yourself instead.— Cody Ward (@codward333) October 28, 2019
Frankly speaking, Cody is right. Metacritic scores and review scores are, indeed, useful in seeing the pros and cons of a particular game. They are specifically useful in cases where gamers are on the fence about a game. However, relying entirely on Metacritic scores, especially when recapping an entire year of games, isn't necessarily the best direction to take and it doesn't take into account the accomplishments of different games. For example, while some didn't like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, nobody can doubt Infinity Ward's ambition and dedication to delivering the most visceral Call of Duty experience possible.
Metacritic: A Collection Of Opinions
As mentioned previously, Metacritic is an entity that averages out the score of a variety of online gaming outlets and produces an aggregate score. Unfortunately, some of these outlets have a degree of bias. For example, some websites that focus on games from a certain publisher (i.e. Microsoft, Nintendo, etc.) are likely to go softer on an exclusive than outlets covering exclusives and cross-platform games alike.
More to the point, all review scores are based on subjectivity and personal opinions. One person's taste isn't necessarily equal to another's. For example, some are more drawn to first-person shooters than others and, as such, might scrutinize an FPS more or offer it more praise depending on the game and series. Furthermore, some might be more willing to look past a game's flaws than others and may assign it a higher score.
Like Wine, Some Series Get Better With Age
Also, some games' legacies grow with time. Taking the example of Deadly Premonition, the game received a fairly middle-of-the-road score on Metacritic with a 68. Since its release, and despite its Metacritic score, it has become one of the most beloved horror games of all-time. It hasn't necessarily trounced legendary series like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, whose installments haven't all scored high on Metacritic, it has become a favorite of many horror game fans and is a common game within the discussion of last-gen horror titles.
Nier, as well, is a series that saw mediocre beginnings on Metacritic, with a score of 68. The series has since spawned a more well-received sequel in NieR: Automata with a Metacritic score of 88. This goes to show, then, that a sufficiently large fan following can lead to growth within a series and, furthermore, that review scores may matter less in the end.
In the realm of film and cinema, there are plenty of examples that show a disconnect between aggregate review scores and public opinion, as well as how opinions have changed over time. Citizen Kane, for instance, is considered one of the best films of all-time and is considered the best by many. At the time of its release, however, the movie had been widely planned, only to be fondly analyzed and quoted years later.
Be Your Own Person
This proves that, at the end of the day, it's best not to rely on Metacritic scores for deciding whether to ultimately purchase a game or not. They're useful for seeing what others might think of a game, but forming your own opinion takes precedence over making decisions based on a number averaging review scores assigned by subjective opinions.
Going forth, judging an entire year of gaming based on Metacritic ought not to be the way we classify a year in gaming. So much more should go into summarizing any given year in gaming than how many Metacritic scores went above or below a certain score. From now on, we, as gamers, need to go by the great words of Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski: "That's just like, your opinion, man."