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Review scores are ‘irrelevant’ to Sniper Elite dev

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Developers place far too much stock in Metacritic these days. While it’s a useful tool for aggregates and watching performance on a franchise over a long period of time, using it as a tool to reward or punish a team based on their game output is kind of bonkers. But UK-based developer Rebellion manages to fall asleep every night without any Metacritic worries weighing them down. Or even review scores, as their games have proven to be profitable, despite what those nasty professional writers have had to say about them.

And that’s because Rebellion has a modest budget for games, when compared to other industry players, that has allowed it to make a tidy profit on their releases.

“Nobody here ever bothers about Metacritic. We think of it as irrelevant, quite frankly,” CEO Jason Kingsley said to GamesIndustry.

We only concentrate on what the users think, and every aggregate user score has been significantly higher than the aggregate professional score. We care about the people who are spending their money, and whether we’re happy that we’ve made a good game. The acid test isn’t somebody’s abstracted number.

Kinglsey then explained that what a reviewer was looking for in a game, might not be what a regular member of the public was expecting. And that’s why Rebellion preferred to embrace the more casual side of getting their games eyeballed.

“The greatest value for us as digital publishers, if you like, is in embracing YouTube and Twitch and the normal people being seen playing our games,” Kingsley said.

It lets you see what the gameplay is like, and make a decision on whether you like that and want to play it. You might not actually care whether it didn’t seem totally original to one person, or that the story was a bit crap. That new approach has taken over.

And in some ways, I agree with that approach. If it wasn’t for our damn digital infrastructure being more hobbled than the Great Khali’s speech patterns, I’d kill to be able to properly stream some games that I was busy reviewing, so people could see if I was being honest with the words in my reviews. However, just saying that a game is suitable for different folks with different strokes, isn’t enough. It’s the reason why we try and get the right man for the right game to review it, but remind them to be critical. After all, would you want me to review FIFA?

As for ditching numbers in reviews, I’m personally still all for them. But I’d gladly replace the system with that prototype GIF system I created last week.

Last Updated: February 18, 2015

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