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MetaCritic User Reviews Plagued Fanboy's

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On popular review aggregation site Metacritic, 1UP’s review score of an “A” for Gears of War 2 somehow translates into a “100”, MetaCritic’s highest possible ranking. I’m not sure how that alchemy works, but that score (plus a whole lot of positive reviews from other outlets) hasn’t stopped a group of rogue user reviewers from dropping the game’s user score significantly.

As of this morning just over 3,600 users had voted on the unreleased game, giving it an average user score of 3.4/10. This stands in stark contrast to the official review average of 94/100, which MetaCritic labels as “Universal acclaim.” The negative reaction from users was so extreme and unexpected that it warranted the following note from MetaCritic games editor Marc Doyle added to the bottom of the Gears of War 2 page:

“My advice for our faithful users is to focus your attention on the Metascore for this game and not the thousands of user votes, most of which have been submitted before said users have played the game. This is a gaming community, and if people want to stuff the ballot box, there’s not much I can do at this point. When we upgrade the registration requirements for participation on the site in the near future, this type of thing won’t happen. We’ll post the full legitimate user reviews upon the game’s release. As always, thanks for using the site.”

When Doyle was contacted for clarification by 1up news, he told them that the issue of unbalanced user reviews “hasn’t been a systematic problem” on the site. According to Doyle, it’s only really popped up recently and mostly for console-exclusive titles. Two other strong examples exist: Resistance 2 has a Metascore of 89 with a user score of 5.3/10, and Little Big Planet has a Metascore of 95 with a user score of 6.1/10. Doyle says the issue stems from the site’s foundation. User reviews were allowed to be entered before a game’s release because they “wanted people who had legitimately played the game ahead of its release to post them.” Stacked on top of that was a desire for an easy sign-up process. “The founders were really interested in not having people sign up for a really huge registration process just so they can participate on the site,” Doyle said, adding, “Obviously that’s been exploited.”

Doyle also explained exactly how MetaCritic will be looking to fix this problem through an enhanced sign-up process that will now require users to enter more information than just an e-mail address in order to get an account and vote on MetaCritic. “Even before the enhanced registration portion, we’re going to disallow voting on games before release,” Doyle said. Speaking to the relative importance of user reviews on the site, Doyle stated, “Our primary product is the critic score. That’s what we control; that’s what we can certify.” He added that the site may look at new ways to highlight user reviews in the future as they develop better means of certifying that the user reviews are legitimate. Until these fixes are implemented, though, MetaCritic readers will simply have to deal with the fanboy flame war affecting the user review scores.

Last Updated: November 5, 2008

7 Comments

  1. Atomic

    November 5, 2008 at 15:27

    I saw this a couple days ago, and in the forums I read a comment on Metacritic saying some of the scores were orchestrated by disgruntled PC and PS3 fans. This is just bad taste all round dissing a game cause it’s on an opposing platform.

    Those X-box users who gave it a bad score say so because of the frame rate.. but honestly, even with frame rate issues on their illegal downloaded copies, is their score of 0/10 really justified? if that was the case, most PS3 games would get low scores.

    Reply

  2. Wesley

    November 5, 2008 at 16:06

    Atomic i wont be suprized if it was over eagered fans that expected too much like some of the noobs that time with GTA 4. They trashed the crap out of that game because it didnt meet they’re expectations.

    That being said if Geow one was decent then there will be no competition for the second and longer installment 😛 HAPPY DAYS

    Reply

  3. Mac

    November 5, 2008 at 16:23

    Yo know what they say about people in glass houses!? look at the LBP and Resistance 2 reviews, the smae thing has happened! LBP had a far worse user review on metacritic than it does now before the launch date

    Reply

  4. Ace

    November 5, 2008 at 17:09

    the ps3 people were only disgruntled because they trashed the LBP review scores – i believe this was the first game which started getting mass 1/10 scores. then i think as a backlash they scored GoW2 low scores as well. then resistance 2.

    But really the system at metacritic is really screwed up!

    Reply

  5. xyber

    November 5, 2008 at 17:17

    I think if you look back at all the articles concerning this it seems to have started with xbox fanboys giving LBP crap score before it where even released. so PS3 fanboys got back at them, and now they are all just messing up the game scores. Metacritic can just as well remove user score now. I for one never took them seriously anyway and normally just read what the users had to say about a game to see what else there are to see bout the game than what “official” reveiwers had to say.

    Reply

  6. Atomic

    November 5, 2008 at 17:28

    @ Mac – glass houses – Like I said, “This is just bad taste all round dissing a game cause it’s on an opposing platform” – meaning X-box users are obviously guilty too, and it really is sad that immature little fanboys stoop to those levels. I feel the same for LBP,it has a very low user rating, but is scoring big with the actual review sites… This also counts for those who give their exclusives a 10/10 rating…

    They should discount scores which fall 20% above or below the Metacritic average, then 0/10 scores wont be factored in, and 10/10 scores would be hard earned.

    Reply

  7. Wesley

    November 6, 2008 at 11:39

    I wonder what Cliffy must be thinking of the pirates that got Gears 2. Man he must be pissed, some game reviewer has alot of explaining to do

    Reply

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