The concept of reliable video game user reviews is completely broken

Something doesn’t match up (pic: Metacritic)

A reader is frustrated at how politicized user reviews have become, with console wars and review bombing making them too unreliable.

Once upon a time, before buying a game, I would have checked out some written reviews. Then, I would see if those scores aligned with what the gamers themselves thought.

After all, game reviewers are company shills, yeah? Money men, taking backhanders for good reviews, brown envelopes hastily stuck into inner jacket pockets for that elusive 9 or 10/10 rating!

No, I would get the inside scoop from the real gamers. The people with their ear to the ground who, like myself, have their own money on the line.

Forspoken released barely a week ago, for the PlayStation 5 and PC. It has… had a rocky start. As I write this, out of 90+ critical reviews, it sits at 66 on Metacritic. Story/dialogue and graphics have taken the brunt of criticism, whereas most agree the parkour and magical combat are well utilized. (For what it’s worth, I more or less agree with this… I’m enjoying my playthrough but accept it’s a game that won’t be for everyone, and that’s fine).

The user score though, is currently at 3.5. One 0/10 reviewer says: ‘Usles game, waste of time, bad story, very expensive, the girl is annoying.’ oof. That hurt critically and grammatically. And yet as I scrolled down, I saw a litany of 0/10 scores, with similar opinions.

To be clear, for me a 0/10 game is one that is so broken that I can’t even play it. It either won’t start or causes my console to corrupt itself and potentially burst into flames. In fact, a 0-3/10 is a game that is pretty much unplayable. Yet, I have experienced none of this in Forspoken.

A brief jaunt online tells me that it has been ‘review bombed’.

Claims that for whatever reason (console exclusivity, the main character’s gender or ethnicity) a minority of people have taken it upon themselves to criticize it into oblivion. I can’t speak for the accuracy of these claims (mostly because I can’t fathom how somebody has the time to do this) but regardless, there is a glaring, unexplainable disconnect between the user scores, and that of paid reviewers.

This isn’t a unique thing either; The Last Of Us Part 2 is renowned as being a critically acclaimed sequel, further exploring the narrative, characters and gameplay of the first game. And yet many say that thanks to that plot twist (you know the one), It has a user score of 5.8.

Xbox hasn’t escaped from this unscathed either, with people pointing out that indie titles added to the Game Pass service are getting unfairly poor reviews, as people expect bigger, AAA games to be added to the service instead. Much like Forspoken, Penitent on Game Pass received a slew of 0 scores, apparently another victim in some fictional console war.

To be clear, no game is above criticism. When used correctly, a user’s review serves as a great warning of caution for any potential buyer that this isn’t worth their money, or to proceed with caution. At the very least, an aggregate score should show the midpoint of opinions. Theoretically, it should be the fairest way.

But if you’re scoring something 0/10, I picture the gaming equivalent of a traffic jam, and my car has a Maroon 5 CD stuck on loud. A game that has gained sentience, and is currently threatening bodily harm against my wife and kids.

And I’m not aware of any developers currently working on a title like that.


By reader Boulder

The reader’s feature does not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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