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43. Re: Op Ed May 17, 2013, 11:40 EternityInBlack
I actually want to shed more light on this because I don't think people understand to what end Metacritic is actually being used in the industry. It's true that people use it post-release to gauge the success of the game, but a lot of it is also used prior to funding development.

I've spoken to several of my colleagues who work in the industry and they've been employed in several companies before, in both publisher and developer roles. The gist of what I got is that a lot of things at the negotiating table are done with Metacritic in mind. Let me give you an example.

Let's say you're a publisher and you sit down with a developer. They're unproven, or they have games that have had lower Metacritic scores. The publisher asks, "So you have a good vertical slice of a game... we know what it is capable of being, but what do you have for us that will ensure that we'll get a quality product?" The developer comes and says, "We guarantee a Metacritic score of 80. If it doesn't, we'll waive cuts on profit."

In that example the developer, to prove themselves, have to throw out a Metacritic number to be funded. Now I'm sure that a lot of other negotiations are more complex than what I presented, but the basic gist of it is this: Metacritic scores, as useless as it is for some, is used as a bargaining chip for a lot of things in the industry.

My opinion? It's totally bogus. Scores can be inflated or deflated depending on who is reviewing the game. Some outlets might receive the game and some outlets might not. Metacritic does selectively choose outlets for inclusion on the site, but one PC game might have 50 reviewers, and another 90 reviewers for another, maybe more high profile game.

This puts to light, of course, the irony that we post review scores on our site. There are just people who do go to sites because of scores. I wish we could remove it, but in the end it's the nature of the beast. As a compromise, we've set 1-10 as our ratings with no decimals and, in addition, we've explained what that means on our site.

Ratings are always going to be a tricky thing... but unless we come up with a better barometer reading for popularity outside of sales, executives are going to use Metacritic as THE defacto standard in judging the potential and quality of a product.
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