Zelnick: Metacritic ratings vital, “good is the new bad”

Wednesday, 9th March 2011 22:30 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Take Two CEO Strauss Zelnick has said Metacritic ratings, and the reviews they’re based on, make a “real difference” to the game’s success – or failure.

“Making good games just isn’t good enough,” Zelnick said. “I believe good is the new bad. … Games need to be great.”

“Unlike many other entertainment business – there are just a few – ratings by Metacritic and others’ reviews really can influence the success of a newly-released title.

“In fact, if your ratings go below a certain level, it can really hurt your ability to sell the title, and above a certain level can make a real difference in your success.”

Take Two clearly takes this seriously, and it shows in the company’s recent christening as Metacritic’s highest rated publisher.

“Our ability to have high scores over and over and over again is a huge competitive advantage, and that advantage drives sales, it reduces risk and creates profits,” Zelnick said.

Zelnick’s comments were part of a presentation at last week’s Wedbush Morgan conference, as reported by Gamasutra.




  1. Xuchilbara

    It really is sad how many people base the stuff they enjoy, off of what OTHER PEOPLE think of it…

    #1 4 years ago
  2. mathare92

    “Unlike many other entertainment business, ratings by Metacritic and others’ reviews really can influence the success of a newly-released title.

    So I asked myself – what could I, the publisher, do to influence those reviews?

    The answer’s simple. Lots of hype, lots of lavish press trips, and most importantly, LOTS of Ad Space *winks*”


    #2 4 years ago
  3. Stardog

    This is why game companies go apeshit when someone gives them a low score.

    It’s also why they plant commenters to say nonsense like “it’s trendy to give a low score to stand out.”

    #3 4 years ago
  4. DaMan

    he’s just pimping their studio, he’s saying ‘Not only our games sell a lot, but they’re also awesome anyway, no matter how you look at it’.

    incidentally, I haven’t noticed any real correlation between review scores and sales, ie Kane and Lynch (the latest one) outsold much higher rated Squenix titles, like JC2. at least certainly not the metacritic bullshit, I suppose people do read their fav mags and sites (like Gamespot I mean), and those might matter.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. mathare92

    @4 K&L 2 outsold Just Cause 2? A right shame, that. Might be because it was released in a less crowded period i.e. late August, not late March.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. DaMan

    initially it did, i remember that

    JC2 did more later, ultimately selling over a million and a half too. K&L 2 still performed ridiculously well if you go by the reviews.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. DSB

    Hmmmm, it definitely launched stronger, but the fact that they bombed down K&L2′s price so soon after release would seem to suggest that it wasn’t performing as well as expected.

    I have a hard time accepting that Just Cause 2 ended up in that league. I didn’t buy it until it went on sale because the PC demo was seriously crap, but it was easily the best sandbox game I’ve played since Saints Row 2.

    I haven’t gotten very far in K&L2, but it just feels old and tired.

    @1 Compared to buying shit purely based on the box art, I prefer to hear what other people think of it first.

    While metacritic makes it abundantly clear that most writers have no idea how to score games beyond three numbers from 7 to 10, it’s still highly accurate between those three numbers.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. DaMan

    retail releases wise, Metacritic is useful when it comes to 6-7 versus 8-9 rated titles, I’m yet to find a game that proves otherwise.

    there’re many games that have a difference of 0.5 to 1 ‘ratios’, yet they’re either equally good or the lower rated is even better. it’s particularly amusing when someone says a 8.5 ratio means a better critical reception than a 8.2 one. lol! Metacritic never come back in history to add reviews of publications added after the game’s release, a couple of 7s or 8s is enough to bring down the score a bit.

    it’s useless for most of XBLA and PSN releases, you get a couple of entries, with most reviewers skipping the game.

    also, I find it hard to believe something which places CheatCC, D’Toid and many of the such alongside Eg or Edge, or even Gamespot.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. hitnrun

    @Stardog: Between platform fanboys and the occasional traffic-whoring site, I’m not sure the plants are necessary.

    Metacritic, in short, sucks. Actually, the site itself is very useful as a collection of reviews – to be read, individually, for actual data – but the scores are a collection of bilge. Many of their source publications don’t review a tiny fraction of even significant titles, so who reviews what has an enormous impact. The 100 point system is worthless, since only about 25 of them are used. Games below 65 and above 90 are each essentially 1 score. The idea that the eldritch and cynical forces driving the gradual mutation of numbers (arbitrarily capped at 100/10) could be “vital” and reflecting of games’ increasing quality is ludicrous.

    For my money, the best rating system was the (now defunct) Next Gen magazine’s. 5 stars: Revolutionary, Great, Good, Flawed, Poor. They stuck to it, too. 3 star games were always solid buys for the given genre; 5 stars was reserved for State of the Art, all-gamers-must-play titles.

    Nowadays 3 stars for a good game would be grounds for a boycott of the publication.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. DSB

    Preaching to the choir there hitnrun. I’ll always sing the praises of the 5-scale.

    For me it goes:

    5 – Perfection
    4 – Strongly recommended
    3 – Cautiously recommended
    2 – Failed
    1 – Hopeless

    The fact that reviewers rarely use more than 50% of their scale really should make a few editors reconsider the way they score their material, but it just seems like they prefer absurdity.

    You could also simply do away with scores, but that would require writers to actually write in a way that did the game justice, instead of simply writing a somewhat adequate defence for the score they gave it.

    (I’ve also come to realize that there are in fact 4 numbers from 7 to 10, so most reviewers actually utilize a whopping 40% of their scales, instead of only 30)

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Ireland Michael

    @10 5 point scales are too basic. They leave out huge caps of varying degrees of quality.

    Gaming needs to stop trying so hard and just adopt the same basic 10 scale system that every other form of media almost universally uses.

    Unfortunately, the gaming media is almost completely flooded full of cocksucking gamer nerds who are only in it for some free games, and don’t give two snots about integrity.

    Rock Paper Shotgun and GiantBomb are quickly becoming the *only* online publications I trust for an honest opinion. I like Euro Gamer’s review, but nobody can deny the bee is a little too close to the honey there.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. DSB

    No one cares about expanding degrees of quality, and really, neither do I.

    If I should start scoring an album based on the number of chords that are spot on, or the number of leads that don’t need to be in there, then people wouldn’t recognize that in the score anyway. Most civillians have two scores they apply. “Did like” and “Didn’t like”. Why would you bombard them with five times as many distinctions?

    There might be a few nerds who think more than 5 is bitingly neccesary, but five different opinions more than encompasses the way you can feel about a piece of entertainment, and it’s far more easily communicated, as shown above.

    It’s neccesary to be critical and have to make a decision on whether an album is actually good or whether it isn’t, than it is to linger in the dead center of a scale that doesn’t force that distinction. That nullified zone is just a pillow for reviewers who don’t have the competence to make up their minds, in my opinion.

    I’ve seen very few publications outside gaming that actually uses 100 or 10 scales. I know an overwhelming majority who apply 6-scales, and I hate that just as much for its convenient middleground, but that still serves to inform people better than 10 unique (and I’m guessing, increasingly complex, or even forced) ways of feeling about something.

    Most games journos probably stick to four numbers because they’re gutless, but ultimately I don’t think very many people have a lot more to say, that would justify more than a handfull of digits.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. Ireland Michael

    @12 A person would have to be rather brain-dead to consider 10 distinctions a “bombardment”.

    When a game or a music album or a movie gets a 10, I’d like it to actually mean something. A 5 in a five scale system means nothing more than “this is great”. That’s *too* simplistic.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. DSB

    Well, I think it’s a pretty basic rule of communication that you have to at the very least accomodate idiots. Doing what Edge does might be great for a bunch of tweed wearing schoolteachers with a glass of cognac in their hands, but it’s not communication on a very high level.

    The trick is to make yourself clear without losing anyone. Of course philosophies on that will vary, but I think its close to an artform to write well, but write for all.

    If you look at publications with a history of writing some of the (in my opinion) best articles around, like Time or Rolling Stone, they don’t just find great stories, they also leave them open to just about everyone who cares to read them.

    You should remember that a scale is just a graphic representation of your conclusion on the material, it’s only going to be the main attraction to people who don’t want to read what you have to say. Your words should be the qualification of what you think, and why that graphic looks the way it does – not the range of the scale itself.

    #14 4 years ago

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