It’s the end of the decade and Metacritic has published the list of their top 50 games. And we’re here to talk about why Metacritic sucks.
Critic scores vs. user scores
Metacritic is a video game review site that pulls from multiple sources across the web to make one overall score. They use two different scoring systems. One is an aggregation of all of the individual review scores across media outlets and then there’s the user score. Anyone who wants to weigh in can leave a game score from 1 to 10 with a written explanation. The user review system has its own issues with reliability and the scores take some interpretation. But today we’re concerning ourselves with the critic Metascores.
Top 50 games of 2010-19
Metacritic’s list of top games contains the games that received the highest Metascores in the past decade. Since the video game review grade system has become outdated this list should be taken at face value. It’s just a list of the games that reviewers scored highest at the time the game was released. One problem with this is Metacritic’s policy of not updating a game’s score once it’s been tabulated. A modern trend for video games has been to patch them with updates after the initial launch. Games that disappointed initially can become critical darlings a year later. If an outlet updates their review score of a game a year later the Metascore will not be updated to reflect this. So scores can become outdated and irrelevant over time. This makes the context of their top 50 list very important.
It’s a two way street
The opposite case can also be true. A game that receives dazzling reviews from critics at launch for one reason or another can lose its luster. In these cases the scores can reflect a level of hype that didn’t continue as the game aged. In our opinion, an example of this is the game that tops this decade’s list. Super Mario Galaxy 2 was very highly reviewed by critics at launch in 2010. But in subsequent years views on the game have cooled down. It’s still seen as a good game but not regarded as highly as a 97.
This top 50 list shouldn’t be seen as something meant to reflect gamers’ feelings today in 2019. It’s more of a time capsule reflecting how games were seen at the time. Depending on how you look at it this list is either a cool artifact or a waste of everyone’s time.
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