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Has Famitsu Lost Objectivity?

1 min read


Famitsu is one of the premier gaming print publications in Japan – and perfect scores from the magazine, once rarer than hen’s teeth, are highly sought after by game developers and publishers.

It’s becoming more and more apparent though that this generation in particular, Famitsu’s reviewers seem to have sold their souls – and with them their objectivity.

Since 1986 only 6 titles have received a perfect 10 from each of the magazine’s 4 allotted reviewers.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998),
  • Soulcalibur (1999)
  • Vagrant Story (2000)
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003)
  • Nintendogs (2005)
  • Final Fantasy XII (2006)

Since the launch of this generation’s consoles though, 8 games have received the coveted perfect Famitsu score.

  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)
  • 428 (2008)
  • Dragon Quest IX (2009)
  • Monster Hunter Tri (2009)
  • Bayonetta (2009)
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009)
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (2010)

While one could ostensibly argue that games this generation have just gotten much better, the last perfect score they gave – for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is particularly worrying. Not to detract from Kojima’s latest – which in all likelihood is a masterpiece – but Famitsu failed to disclose in their review that the magazine is heavily involved in the marketing of the game. Not only does Famitsu appear in the game, but Enterbrain – the company that publishes Famitsu – has its president appear in print advert for Peace Walker. If that’s not a conflict of interests, I don’t know what is. It’s almost impossible to believe there’s been any impartiality in the review.

Famitsu perfect scores were so prized because they were so incredibly rare. Their significance this generation has been significantly lessened, as it seems they can be bought.

Unfortunately this sort of behaviour; enticing publishers with positive reviews and frothy, gushing news pieces to elicit advertising revenue is all too common, not only in the videogame industry but journalism in general. It’s something I can’t abide and as Nick pointed out in the comments recently we review games, not companies.

Sources ; Kotaku, Wired

Last Updated: April 21, 2010


  1. Someone

    April 21, 2010 at 13:21

    People who take reviews to heart are in a way, dumb or stupid with no mind or opinions of their own.
    Reviews are great in that they give you an Idea of what a game is like or about.

    This is kinda why I don’t think Point Scores are valid.
    You guys might play MassEffect2 and give it a 10. GREAT! but I don’t like it so if I was to play it, I’d give it a 8 or something.

    Now go try and review Barbie and see what you score it.

    (Just a side note. I’m not pointing fingers at this site for its reviews. Your guys reviews are valued a great insight into games. I’m just giving an example.)


    • Geoff

      April 21, 2010 at 13:25

      i’m pretty inclined to agree though. Taste is inherently subjective.

      Also, I’m opposed to numbered review scores. They detract from the review itself, placing the focus on an arbitrary number.

      Right now though, sites tend to not be taken seriously if they don;t provide review scores. some larger sites have managed to do away with them – but only because they’ve built up their esteemed ruputations already.


      • Nick de Bruyne

        April 21, 2010 at 13:52

        I give this comment a 7/10


      • Gavin Mannion

        April 21, 2010 at 14:03

        But at the same time a score based system has worked for years in the movie industry and most entertainment endeavours. I am yet to be convinced that games are so far removed from other entertainment forms as not to require a score on review.

        However it is really important that everyone realises the score is purely the reviewers opinion and is not gospel or fact.


      • Naudran

        April 21, 2010 at 14:37

        That’s why I must say, I enjoy Kotaku’s reviews. They don’t have a point scoring system… but rather a pro’s & con’s system, which works, me thinks.


        • Bobby Kotick gives this article 7/10

          April 21, 2010 at 15:34

          I agree Naudran. I also prefer Kotaku’s approach, because reviews are subjective. I may give Halo 3 a below-average score whereas someone else might think it’s the bees knees. Anyway, I’ve noticed that reviewers generally get confused and even make the mistake of giving “bad games” 60% and yet not realizing that anything above 50% is still “äbove average”. A good game would actually be 60% – 70%, whereas anything scoring higher than 80 or even 90% should not only be exceptional, but melt my brain and be able to make me breakfast the morning after.


          • Nick de Bruyne

            April 21, 2010 at 16:16

            I almost wish that an international standard was set for scoring. That’s the main issue I see, some people see 5/10 as average where other people see 7/10 as average.

            It’s a tough one because sure, a review is the reviewers personal opinion, but he isn’t writing it for himself, he is writing it for people who want to know if the game is worth the cash, so it has to appeal to a broad audience.

            Scoring is really tough, and in all honesty it’s really easy to just go with a pros and cons system, but some people like the simplified score, that gives them a basic idea of the games worth.

          • Bobby Kotick is rated 5/10 by women around the world

            April 21, 2010 at 20:09

            That’s kind of why I prefer the pros and cons approach over giving a number, because obviously some folks won’t buy a game that has a subjective score of under 9/10 or 90%. What about “A”, “B”, “C”, “D” and “E”? Anything that scores “E” should be thrown in a bin and set alight. Whereas games that score “A” and “B” are exceptional to good with the latter scoring less than perfect because of a few niggles. “C” and “D” are for average and below-average games.

  2. Nick de Bruyne

    April 21, 2010 at 14:11

    What I don’t like with movies lately is that sites like Rotten Tomatoes have now just split reviews into approve and disapprove, which means that the percentage they give is a percentage of the reviewers who liked it, not an actual score.

    It doesn’t work in the movie industry anymore because unlike gamers and game reviewers, movie critics seems to hate life and anything happy, unless it’s French and makes no sense, then it’s just art.

    As for game reviews, yeah, it’s just a score to give you a rough idea of the value of the game. People are taking reviews as an indication of author allegiances these days, instead of taking it at face value, as an actual basic review.


  3. ewie

    April 21, 2010 at 23:28

    Interesting article about gaming score and metacritic.



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