Metacritic, for those who don’t know, is a review website that aggregates reviews scores from both amateurs and critics alike for movies, games, music and TV shows. Each score, appropriately named “the Metascore”, is the conglomeration of user-submitted comments associated to any given piece of media. Each person can leave their own comment on a given slice of media as well as their own score on said media. The result of hundreds of submitted scores amounts to a single average, the Metascore.
Metacritic is essentially one of the go-to websites to catch a quick glimpse of how good something is, particularly games, because the Metascore is displayed clearly at a glance next its associated piece of media. It’s also a good place to see the differing opinions of others, as something that was given an unfavorable score by critics can be praised by users, and vice versa.
Typically, it’s the score of the critics that attribute to the Metacritic that’s actually displayed next to a given media, but the scores of other users are also logged as well. So, while a game might not have an official Metascore aggregated from the scores of critics, it’ll still have an associated average score from hundreds of user-submitted reviews. Scores from 20 critics amount to the Metascore, and it is the main score that’s displayed next to the media in question, scores from 100+ users amount to the user score, which is displayed (and is less highlighted) next to Metascore.
Furthermore, a score isn’t always uniform across all the platforms a slice of media launched on; a high score on one platform may heavily differ from a score on another platform.
To me, Metacritic does sound like one a good way (on paper) to review something, as it takes into account the reviews of hundreds of opinions and averages them out into two scores, one from actual critics and the other from the average person.
However, the water gets far muddier when it comes to certain things, particularly games. Because everyone ever thinks they know best, user scores of games can turn out to be a nonsense mess, filled with three-sentenced conclusions and assertions of things that aren’t really relevant to the reviewed game at hand, and various other bollocks that can make a person question the presence of others. What also doesn’t help, in the case of games, is that the different platforms are separated, and their associated scores are also separated, which can lead towards rather one-sided scores.
A recent example of that is with the recently released Destiny. Since Destiny takes about 10 hours to complete, and as it launched yesterday (Tuesday, September 9) at the time of writing, there has yet to be a Metascore given to the game, as the critics have yet to finish the game and associate a score to it on all of its four platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
As right now Destiny is “TBD” (To Be Determined) in terms of its Metascore. However, in terms of its user score, it has averaged to about a grand number of six for the PlayStation 4 version, based on the input of over 970 people. The Xbox One, Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 versions of the game waver much less scores.
Whilst a handful of the submitted user reviews can be considered respectable, the majority of the user submitted reviews have utterly canned the game; some clearly inferring that they did not play more than a good few hours of the game before making a conclusion about it, and most giving the game a flat zero (even with a reasonable review associated to it).
Destiny isn’t the only game to have this rather one-sided score; Call of Duty: Ghosts also got heavily canned by users, too.
Metacritic is important to those who like to see numbers next to whatever is being reviewed, but it also can be helpful for gaining insight on the opinions of both critics and amateurs on a given game, movie or TV show; which can help towards an informed decision before committing to one.
It’s interesting to see two sets of scores for a given piece of media, but you’ll need to know when to personally draw the line on taking reviews from that website seriously, especially since some of the user comments can be absolutely unhelpful. Word of advice would be to not take Metacritic scores entirely seriously, and to not use it as a prime source.