Early this morning Amazon quietly launched their Metascore addition to a few select titles in their video game catalog which is some serious bad news for the gaming industry.
One of the biggest faults in this addition is that while games may change and even some reviews may be updated based on those changes -the Metascore will never change. This means that a title like Super Mario 3D World (featured) will always be a 93, while a game that may have expansions or is frequently updated and fixed with patches will never reflect an updated score.
While this new addition may pressure gaming companies to perfect the product before release, the new addition could hurt sales of some of the latest titles and future titles if the bugs aren’t taken care of before launching.
But the likelihood of that actually happening is slim to none, since last year it surfaced that game developers have been using their own form of Payola to influence Metacritic scores by promising bonuses for better reviews. While I have a hard time believing the company behind the Italian Plumber saving the Princess could do such a thing, it definitely wasn’t a far off reality for Obsidian with their Fallout: New Vegas release.
While there are many flaws in the system, another major one is that if a game is too ‘niche’ it often gets a bad rating due to this. A game that may be captivating or one of the best games you’ve ever played may end up with a mere 68 due to the lack of interest from a few set reviewers. A few recent examples that come to mind are Dead Space 3, Lost Planet 2, Ryse: Son of Rome and Alone in the Dark.
Another thought to add to that is it’s completely unfair to base which genre is better based off a number system. For example, Super Mario 3D world is a fun, cartoon platformer great for the whole family with a Metascore of 93. And Dark Souls II is a terrifying game filled with violent cut scenes and gruesome monsters with a Metascore of 90. You simply cannot compare the two to each other, but this new integration on Amazon is inviting you to do just that. You may choose Super Mario 3D simply because it scored 3 points higher, even though you may be craving an entirely different gaming experience.
The scores may also mean an entirely different thing from person to person. There may be a good game with some great moments, but on a scale of 1-10 I may only give it a 6 or 7. There have also been some games that I’ve played that have been terrible because of random glitches, but overall it was a fun play through. And those might get a higher score too depending on who you’re playing with, if you’ve been drinking, and so on..
Overall, the gaming experience is unique per person, and while an overall consensus can sell you the game with a big flashy green number, it may just not be the right game for you. I’m sure that Amazon isn’t trying to become a corporate giant by this addition of Metascore to their gaming catalog, however, if game companies and developers focus solely on improving their Metascore to increase sales rather than improving quality.. this could be bad news for gamers everywhere.