Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Critics vs. Customers! New Review Feature


Coffee Beans
What is "Critics vs. Customers"? The image above shows the "professional" critic review score average for a Wii retail game as 48.41%, and the Amazon.com customer review score average for the exact same game as 87.08%. How can there be such a huge difference?

If you have wondered why I usually write professional, as "professional" when it comes to the general video game critics' review score average in my posts, it's because I find most of the critic review scores for games to be so similar to each other, and it's almost like I can get more useful information about games from reading user reviews on Amazon.com, video game forums, and smaller blogs, than I can from reading reviews from sites that are supposed to be considered "professional".

The "professional" critics are often getting paid to play the games they review (either paid for writing the review and/or getting a free copy of the game), while the majority of the user reviews are probably from paying customers that are just trying to inform other potential customers of the good/bad they can expect from the game.

With Critics vs. Customers we will look at a wide variety of games and see how games did with the critics' review score averages from MetaCritic.com and GameRankings.com, and customers' review score averages from sites like Amazon.com. General information and trailers about the games will be provided as well if possible, and maybe even more developer feedback on the posts.

If I have played the game being covered then the piece will probably be titled, "Critics vs. Customers AND Coffee" (or something close to it), and I will try to give my insights on the game and what I thought was bitter and/or sweet about it.

Caffeinated Thoughts
Many times game developers will have in their contracts that they may get a bonus or higher return on their games, if their game can meet certain MetaCritic review score averages. If you were to take a look at the image above and base your opinion on the game just on the "professional" critic review score average, you might not even give that game a try.

Why should developers not get a bonus because the "professionals" apparently are the wrong target audience for the game and perhaps don't even complete the game before writing their "reviews", while the customers that are playing, and paying for, the very same game seem to really be enjoying it?

I wrote a post on this topic of video game reviews, "Should There Be Game Review Standards?", ironically just over 2 years ago (almost to the date of this post being published). I hope this new feature can perhaps shine a spotlight on older games, and even new releases, from a different angle and give potential buyers a different look at what paying customers think about the games, instead of just the paid critics.

Question
Can you identify which game is used my image above, with the critic review score average of 48.41% from GameRankings.com and the customer review score average of 87.08 from Amazon.com?

8 comments:

  1. Good mornin', Coffee.

    No idea on which game you are referring to above, but I really do like the idea of this feature. It is interesting to compare these two because, as you pointed out, quite often critic scores come in lower. Of course, I have read WAY too many times in a post where a professional reviewer will say something like: I didn't really care for the last game, or: This isn't a genre I usually play much. I just read one a few weeks ago, can't recall which one it was, where the reviewer began by saying that fighting games weren't his cup of tea, or something along those lines. He actually wound up scoring it well, but there is a drawback in assigning someone to review a game that they might not be interested in.

    There are some games though that have an interesting flipped situation where the review site scores the game really high, and the fans come in much lower. Examples of that:

    IGN gave both D3 and ME3 a 9.5. Game informer gave ME3 a 10 and D3 a 9.

    Amazon user ratings has D3 at 2/5 and ME 3 for the 360 at about 2.3 stars

    Gamespot has a bit less disparity, giving D3 an 8.5 while its users scored it a 7.3.

    I think this is a cool idea - I'm looking forward to seeing where you go with it - especially on the titles you yourself have played.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We definitely don't call ourselves professionals, we are a fan site, but we still get free games for review. What even makes someone a "professional". I enjoy playing games, and now, I enjoy reviewing them. Plus, I really enjoy getting free games, even crappy ones =D.


    I also will request games that I have no interest in, just to take a chance and give my opinions and experiences. Heck, I even reviewed Babysitting Mama...ugh...but I was fair. Check it out if you're interested (ha ha!) - http://www.wiinintendo.net/2011/02/22/babysitting-mama-review/


    One last thought - I prefer to read a mixture of reviews about a game I'm interested in buying, but I tend to stick to more "professional" reviews vs customer reviews on Amazon and such.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Not all of us that write professionally are disinterested in games ;-) I want to see Digitally Downloaded become my sole income in the future, and I've written for the Official PlayStation magazine, PCWorld and Gamepro in the past.

    For my part I try to assess things subjectively, but fairly. A good critic can review a game they're not interested it - they just need to understand why other people are interested in it, and assess whether it does that well or not. I don't pretend not to have an agenda - the "non-professional" reviews get to have those, too, but I won't mark a game down for such a trivial thing as "it's not for me."

    I am just as wary of consumer reviews as you are of professional ones. Consumers have this nasty habit of banding together to ruin a game's score for trivial reasons. The reason Diablo 3 is so low on Metacritic is because people who bought the game on day one experienced server problems. That's not assessing the quality of a game - that's a lousy reason to give it a 'bad review' especially since the game ran perfectly fine a few days later. Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 suffered similar fates because a group of consumers decided to have a personal vendetta.

    A good professional critic (and I'm not denying there are bad ones, even in the highest trafficked sites) has a far, far more balanced opinion than your average anonymous mob.


    Just my 2 cents :P

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm looking at 48% Wii games on metacritc right now. Is it Fling Smash?

    ReplyDelete
  5. "There are some games though that have an interesting flipped situation where the review site scores the game really high, and the fans come in much lower. Examples of that:
    IGN gave both D3 and ME3 a 9.5. Game informer gave ME3 a 10 and D3 a 9.
    Amazon user ratings has D3 at 2/5 and ME 3 for the 360 at about 2.3 stars"
    You're hitting the nail on the head, even with your examples (you may see floating around here soon).


    I hope it can shed some light on games, and give a different perspective on them than perhaps just what most have seen on a major site, or two.


    Thanks for the comment/feedback!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I would put you with the, "
    user reviews on Amazon.com, video game forums, and smaller blogs" that I read.
    You have in the last two that I noticed, put the "Time Spent Playing" portion, which I thought was great.


    "Heck, I even reviewed Babysitting Mama...ugh...but I was fair. Check it out if you're interested"
    We could use a babysitter every now and then, maybe they should branch that series out into real life and make a profit from it?


    "One last thought - I prefer to read a mixture of reviews about a game I'm interested in buying, but I tend to stick to more "professional" reviews vs customer reviews on Amazon and such."
    After reading such lazily written reviews on sites like IGN, GameInformer, 1Up, and other larger sites, I really stopped going to them. After I contacted the reviewers directly with legitimate issues in their reviews (incorrect information, not mentioning something that could have solved a problem they had, etc.), and never getting a response to it, it showed me that not only did their reviewers not care about the quality, but the editors at those sites didn't either.


    Oh, and as for, "What even makes someone a 'professional'."
    I would say being listed on MetaCritic.com and GameRankings.com would be a big one, but also requesting games to review probably means you are presenting yourself as a "professional" video game reviewer to the companies you are requesting a copy from. It depends whether you meet that company's criteria (often times traffic rankings) as a professional though.


    Thanks for the comment/feedback!

    ReplyDelete
  7. "I am just as wary of consumer reviews as you are of professional ones."
    Easily spotted with lower review numbers though, and they aren't affecting a developers potential pay either last I heard. :)


    "Consumers have this nasty habit of banding together to ruin a game's score for trivial reasons."
    I would say the exact same thing as "professionals", look at the review score above and I think the game proves it.


    "The reason Diablo 3 is so low on Metacritic is because people who bought the game on day one experienced server problems. That's not assessing the quality of a game - that's a lousy reason to give it a 'bad review' especially since the game ran perfectly fine a few days later."
    For those people, it is a legitimate reason (if lousy) to rate it low though. I had a friend that had purchased a new GPU for his PC, JUST for D3, and he was so ticked off that the game was having issues. He's reason was perfectly legitimate as well. He paid for a game to take home and play, and he shouldn't have to wait to play it because of a problem not on his end (meaning, he wasn't just a consumer buying a game that his PC couldn't run and complaining about that) They bought a game that was said to have a certain feature, and if that feature didn't work day one, they have a right to be mad about it. It's the developers/publishers job to make sure a day one release is ready for day one.


    Also, as for the "anonymous" part, Amazon.com does now have a "verified buyer" name next to some of the reviews, which means the reviewer did buy the game/product from Amazon.com, which is pretty good.


    Thanks for the comment/feedback!

    ReplyDelete
  8. It is not Fling Smash, but let me give you a hint since you are trying...
    Try GameRankings.com instead, they have the full review percentages shown. Use the filter and select the Platform: as "Wii" and then make sure to change the "With At Least:" to 10 reviews.
    That should help..

    ReplyDelete

Keep the comments clean. Rated "E" for Everyone. :)

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