It is tough, really tough, these days not to be persuaded and bombarded by everyone else’s opinions on, well, everything. Games, films and TV shows are probably the hardest thing not to notice though. There are a tonne of different genres and those will appeal to different audiences, but when there is something you were really looking forward to, would bad review put you off even though you haven’t been anywhere the game?
In case you missed it Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was released last week to thunderous applause and generally good reviews and reception. However, one review on MetaCritic scored the game fairly low and everyone is up in arms about it, there is even a petition to have it removed or changed. Now, from what I have gathered, a big part of peoples issue with it isn’t necessarily the low score, it is the fact that MetaCritic, not the original reviewer, gave the score. Although there is a little confusion as to whether this is the case, or whether the writer from The Washington Post gave the score to MetaCritic but just didn’t have one on the original article. There is also some speculation as to whether the piece is satire or not. I believe it isn’t and the guy who wrote it simply didn’t enjoy the game, which when I last looked, was allowed.
Having reviewed several games in the past, including Bethesda’s massive title of last year Fallout 4, it is very hard to give a balanced opinion on a game such as that which so many people have been looking forward to and one which already has a multitude of positive reviews. Luckily I love the franchise and really enjoyed Fallout 4, but there were still points I had to comment on that weren’t up to scratch. There have been other games which I really didn’t enjoy so my review has reflected my own personal experience of playing it, but someone who is perhaps more familiar with the genre, for example, might thoroughly enjoy it.
What I am really driving at here is that much like everything else on the internet, reviews are of course someone’s opinion of something. They may be slightly more objective than other pieces, but at the end of the day it all comes down to the person’s particular experience of playing the game. If they didn’t like it then why do we have the right to tell them they are wrong? We can disagree with it of course but just because you like something doesn’t mean everyone else will.
So, I go back to the original question, do review scores really matter? To me, I don’t think they do. If I am buying an electrical product or seeing if a company is reputable, then I tend to put a little more weight on reviews, but in the case of games it is unnecessary in my eyes to take them as gospel. If there is a game I have been waiting for and followed its progress, such as Uncharted, then I will be playing that game regardless of whether other people think it is good or bad. I want to be able to come to my own conclusions to whether I enjoyed it or not. Even if I hate it, I will have reached that decision on my own. Someone else might like a part I don’t and vice versa so I would still want to have played a game I’ve been waiting for for months.
Do they matter to the developers and publishers? Sometimes I imagine they do impact upon sales if the review mentions glitches, broken parts of the game or just a poor overall story/gameplay. If a certain game gets generally panned, such as The Order 1888, which did not go down well (although there are plenty of people out there who still loved it) it might put pressure on the studio to make their next game better. Is that a bad thing though? Probably not in the long run. But in the case of Uncharted 4 and Naughty Dog, both names which you would generally link to good quality and highly enjoyable games, one bad review isn’t going to stop them from producing the games we know they can and it really isn’t going to affect sales of this, or any other game, they produce in future.
I don’t think the review should be removed or the score changed, after all that writer is entitled to make his own judgements. Also, it would set a precedent for the future where we would be entitled to scrub out opinions and only write about things which everyone will agree with, and where is the fun in that? I have had some negative comments to my own opinions in the past and it always amazes me how intolerant of others we can be when it comes to something we truly love.
At the end of the day, we shouldn’t be so persuaded and put out by game reviews. If you want to play a game, play it. If you don’t like it even if everyone else does, that’s OK, as it is the other way around. We each take something different from the games we play, and that is what makes it such a diverse and wonderful community to be a part of.