Home Gaming Metacritic: Defending the Critic

Metacritic: Defending the Critic

4 min read


You don’t have to go far to hear about how bad Metacritic is for the gaming industry. Kotaku recently wrote a great piece about it and Adam Sessler also had some good points in his recent video. This isn’t a new complaint either, IGN covered it a year ago and so have countless other sites.

But if it’s so bad then why does it continue to be such an integral part of the industry on the side of developers, publishers and gamers alike?

Why when Metacritic aggregates scores for Movie, TV, Music and Games is it only games that have this intense backlash against the idea of being labelled with a single aggregated score?

The answer is unfortunately far more simplistic that most people would like it to be. We’d like to believe that artists shouldn’t be constrained by numbers and that every game and movie deserves to be judged by it’s whole and not simply by the ideals of a select few reviewers.

And by in large that is correct. The latest Defiance TV series is currently sitting with a Metacritic aggregate of 58/100. That’s pretty shocking really and yet last night I bought the first pilot episode from iTunes for $1.99… or something. I’ve watched half of it so far and haven’t made my mind up yet but I wouldn’t say 58 is far off the mark.

I didn’t pick Defiance at random, the video game based on the series was released at the same time and it currently has a Metacritic rating of 56/100, am I going to pop out to the shops now and spend R600 ($60) on it? Hell no.

And there is the crux of the entire argument, it’s all about the money in the end and while I’m happy to throw away a bit of cash to judge a movie or TV series for myself I simply cannot afford to do that for all games.


When it comes to movies it becomes even easier for the studio’s, they can make an average movie with big name stars, market the hell out of it and unless they completely overspent they should be able to make their cash back.

And if the movie doesn’t do well at the box office it can always bring in extra money with DVD sales, video store rentals, online streaming, iTunes and then good old fashioned TV showings.

However a game has one shot at life and has to make the majority of its money in 1 month, add that to the high cost of games and you can understand then how important the initial reviews are.

Is it fair that developers are measured on a Metacritic score? Well yes, we all have KPA’s in our jobs and in my last job we were measured on the aggregate customer satisfaction score that we received.  People got fired over bad scores while others got great bonuses for high scores.

Is it the perfect template for artistic freedom? Absolutely not, but unfortunately artistic freedom doesn’t pay the bills and with games these days reaching the high tens of millions to develop those are some hefty bills that require payment.


All is not lost though, Sony has been exceptionally good at giving developers freedom when it comes to some of their first party titles like Flower, LBP or Heavy Rain. All of which became commercial success stories and broke the mould and created genres.

Another common complaint about Metacritic is that their weighting system is a secret and we don’t know if our reviews are weighted higher than IGN’s or JoeBlogSpot.com. Obviously when something isn’t transparent we worry that it’s susceptible to corruption but at the same time if these weightings were made public there is even more chance of corruption.

If it become known that our reviews count more than IGN you can bet your bottom dollar that we’d suddenly be inundated with communication from the publishers and be invited on every single press trip known to man. At the same time the guys and girls at IGN would start throwing their toys for being seen as less important than that amazing South African website.

In the end Metacritic isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, publishers use it as a weapon against staff and outlying sites can heavily affect a review score by either hating a game or trying to make a name for themselves. But at the same time it isn’t the evil body some journalists are attempting to make it, it’s simply an aggregate score of all the respected reviews across the planet. Nothing more and nothing less.

Disclaimer, if you didn’t know we are one of the multitude of sites used in the Metacritic aggregate which is something we are very proud of. But mainly because we are the first African media site to be included and that’s awesome.

Last Updated: April 22, 2013


  1. Admiral Chief Erwin

    April 22, 2013 at 12:37

    YAY for Lazygamer (again)

    Still so very proud of you guys!


  2. Sageville

    April 22, 2013 at 12:40

    I did have one concern about LG and metacritic.

    Do you guys have a sneak peak at the metacritic before publishing a review, just to make sure you are in the ballpark.

    If, so then the score would be dodge, btw I was gutted Injustice only got 7.5, then when looking at metacritic, it was…. 75/100… Disparity?


    • Gavin Mannion

      April 22, 2013 at 12:51

      Normally our reviews come out before the metacritic aggregate is up… or while it is still fluctuating. When Geoff’s injustice one went up the current metacritic score was 8.5 and by the end of the day it was 8.2 so it’s obviously fallen quite far since then.

      And no the rule of a reviewer is don’t look at other reviews or metacritic until your review is locked and loaded. Obviously it’s impossible to police that but I know we are all trustworthy.


      • Sageville

        April 22, 2013 at 12:58

        Sweet, I know how yawl roll, so no worries here.

        ….still gutted tho [Sniff]


        • Kaya

          April 22, 2013 at 13:26

          Speaking from my experience and chatting with other reviews, most if not all reviewers only look at other scores and read other reviews after their review is done.


  3. Rincethis: Spellalicious

    April 22, 2013 at 12:42

    Nice one Gavin! Still waiting for my LG t-shirt…


    • Admiral Chief Erwin

      April 22, 2013 at 13:21



      • Rincethis: Spellalicious

        April 22, 2013 at 13:24

        You have my LG t-shirt?! Damn you Erwin, damn you!


        • Admiral Chief Erwin

          April 22, 2013 at 13:26


          And I can PROVE it 🙂


          • Rincethis: Spellalicious

            April 22, 2013 at 13:31

            You LIE to make me SAD!

          • Admiral Chief Erwin

            April 22, 2013 at 13:32

            I shall take pictawr of me wearing it tonight to taunt thee!

          • Rincethis: Spellalicious

            April 22, 2013 at 13:35

            You will do no such thing! *goes off to find Chinese child to sew a LG t-shirt…

  4. Scoobaz

    April 22, 2013 at 13:00

    Global influence, NWO..lolz. But seriously. I congratulate you guys once again. Well done!


  5. FoxOneZA - The Chosen One

    April 22, 2013 at 13:01

    Ever since Metacritic became important, games scoring less than 80% are labelled as so called bad games. 8 years ago, if a game scores 70%, it would have been a must play title and seeing a game score 90% was a rarity compared to nowadays where every exclusive scores over 80% just because it’s an exclusive.


    • Scoobaz

      April 22, 2013 at 13:02

      Good point made.


    • Gavin Mannion

      April 22, 2013 at 13:03

      It’s a common misconception that all exclusives score over 80%…. most AAA titles score over 80% simply because they’ve had enough money backing them to test and develop the title correctly.

      A game that costs $60 million to make and scores 70% is a commercial failure while an indie game scoring 80% is a massive success… don’t be blinded by only looking at top shelf games


      • FoxOneZA - The Chosen One

        April 22, 2013 at 13:50

        “. most AAA titles score over 80% simply because they’ve had enough money backing them to test and develop the title correctly.” << Most indeed but top of the shelf games like Uncharted 3 set me back 500mb of updates and GT5 with 6gb of updates. If it were another game, the heavens would open but some devs get preferential treatment. And then there's Halo 3 and ODST that got 80% yet it was just a mediocre gaming experience.


    • Admiral Chief Erwin

      April 22, 2013 at 13:22

      It seems to me your 70% is about 90% of the 80% we have been seeing


      • FoxOneZA - The Chosen One

        April 22, 2013 at 13:50



  6. Purple_Dragon

    April 22, 2013 at 15:57

    The equation is quite simple, make good games. Yes, I feel for those developers who get cheated out of bonuses because they got 84% rating and not 85%. But I don’t feel for those who release shit games and then moan they getting screwed by metacritic.

    MAKE GOOD GAMES GUYS!! And pretty please stop allocating stupid marketing budgets to your games!


  7. SkepticZA

    April 22, 2013 at 16:27

    As an aside: Yes, 58/100 for Defiance is waaaaaay off the mark.
    I’m amazed its even has reached double-digits. It has to be the worst show I have seen in recent times! 10 bucks says it’ll get canned before season-end…mark my words!


    • Purple_Dragon

      April 22, 2013 at 16:31

      That is something else I don’t understand. You get some really good shows, usually intelligent, that get cancelled. Meanwhile piece of shit shows like 2 Broke Girls is popular and gets renewed?! I guess the percentage of stupid people in the world population has increased exponentially over the last decade.


      • Gavin Mannion

        April 22, 2013 at 16:32

        I’m still pissed Terranova wasn’t renewed.. it wasn’t fantastic but I was enjoying it


        • Melasco

          April 22, 2013 at 18:36

          I agree. Loved TN. My all time favourite was Stargate Atlantis. Was really pissed got canned…


  8. geebaby

    April 23, 2013 at 13:08

    Metacritic reviewers only ever seem to give products 1 or 9, they never give fair reviews based upon reason and logic.


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