What's up with GameSpot's reviews?

Contrary to popular belief, GameSpot's review scores are not randomly generated.

by

GameSpot has been reviewing video games since 1996. Back then, dinosaurs hadn't been extinct for as long as they have today, computers were only just figuring out how to beat Garry Kasparov at chess, and Tamagotchi digital pets had millions of people the world over cleaning up after them. The Nintendo 64 was released in Japan and later in North America, Crash Bandicoot became the PlayStation's mascot, and notable game releases that would spawn sequels for years to come included Diablo, Quake, Resident Evil, and Tomb Raider. The world was very different back then, and so were video game reviews.

Our approach to reviewing video games at GameSpot has evolved over the years, and with the 2013 rebuilding of the site, we took the opportunity to revisit the process again. There were a couple of key issues that we wanted to address, namely that it's near impossible to write a single review that caters to everyone and that it's absolutely impossible to write a review that remains accurate when the game in question evolves over time. Our solution? Two words: multiple reviews.

Not convinced? OK, here's the 336-word version:

With the exception of review emblems, which are no more, the significant changes that we've made to GameSpot's reviews are all additive to what we were already doing. We're still committed to delivering reviews in a timely fashion, and the first review that we post for any game will still be written by a reviewer who has extensive experience with the series or genre in question. For all intents and purposes, these "featured" reviews are the same reviews that GameSpot has been producing for years, and therefore, they'll almost certainly be rendered inaccurate over time as the games reviewed are updated.

Historically, the only way for us to address this issue was to add brief "After the Fact" updates to reviews, and while we still update reviews in a similar fashion, we're well aware that we need something more. That's one of the reasons the new GameSpot site has been built to accommodate multiple reviews of the same game; when enough time has passed and a game has changed so dramatically that we no longer feel our review is helpful--and assuming there's still enough interest to warrant it--we post a new one. Our original review still lives on GameSpot, but isn't featured as prominently as the updated one.

Multiple reviews also afford us a way to present you with opinions from differing perspectives. If you're looking to get into a series that's already several games in, you might be interested to read a review that's written by someone who also missed out on earlier games to figure out if it's a good entry point, for example. Or perhaps you're looking to play a game with a child and would love to get a parent's perspective. We don't offer multiple perspectives on every game that we review, but we're an opinionated bunch, and it's rare that we can all agree on anything, so don't be surprised if additional reviews for games show up on the site as and when editors get around to playing them.

What do those numbers mean?

We rate games on a scale of 1 to 10 in order to give you an at-a-glance sense of the overall quality of a game. Please note that as the quality of gaming experiences naturally improves over time, we don't simply rate new games higher, even if they're technically better. Instead, as games come out that raise the bar, we adjust our expectations accordingly. A game that earns a high score today is probably better than a game that earned the same score on our scale several years ago.

Our scores are defined as follows:

This is NOT how we assign review scores to games. Honest.

10 - Masterpiece

9 - Superb

8 - Great

7 - Good

6 - Fair

5 - Mediocre

4 - Poor

3 - Bad

2 - Terrible

1 - Abysmal

If you have any questions about GameSpot reviews, please feel free to contact me directly via my profile page.

Discussion

356 comments
drekula2
drekula2

Gamespot should just do a 5-point scale because their 10-scale is perfunctory at best when half of it isn't even used.


1 - bad (1-4)

2 - mediocre (5 and 6)

3 - good (7)

4 - great (8)

5 - superb (9 and 10)

Justin_G
Justin_G

gaming has evolved. there are rarely the opportunity for truly "bad" or "terrible" or "abysmal" games anymore. this is why game scores across the board usually trend upward of "good" or "great" and the "suburb" rating is a rarer entity. (also the coveted "perfect" score)


this is also why reviews have to lean towards informing players to subjective viewpoints rather then only being PURELY objective,... towards telling players not only about faults and achievements (the good and the bad; the meat of the game; which granted is still necessary) but about a games individual dissemination throughout the gaming community; that is to say, the individual opinions about the game subjectively from the reviewers sole point of view for the audience. there is no good objective rating system anymore, yet people still clamor over numbers,so this is the best way to do it. if this was only a five star rating system, there would be no room for error, period, with games... which there always will be, because gaming isn't a medium that is devoid of the problems of technology. there will always be technical problems that will lower the games rating and games that are truly great will get the shaft because they had some technical problems that fault the game TECHNICALLY but not in a game design, art design/concept, fun factor (remember fun factor?) type of way. this is why 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 is the best system.


Gamespot gets way too much flak for this particularly.

kyelo
kyelo

Personally prefer a 5 star grading system. 1 Terrible, 2 Bad, 3 OK, 4 Good, 5 Excellent. The problem with the 10 grade is that the 'average' score is 6 or 7 thus the majority of things gaining that, it is seen as the middle ground when in fact it is not. 

dark_death78
dark_death78

I came here by clicking on the link above the 9/10 Titanfall score to better understand why that "review" was just a game description and not a critique? I didn't expect to read a wall of advertising of the features of the game, I've seen enough youtube videos for that. I wanted a critique of the good and bad, not of how I can play the game.


I've been a member for almost 1.5 decades, and GS is just getting worse and worse sigh. I haven't given up yet. But come on people, what even?

wiiplay1
wiiplay1

I liked the review system how it was before, specifically the emblems that came with reviews. I think it's BS that Gamespot got rid of them. If the goal of overhauling the review system was to simplify game reviews, getting rid of review emblems is exactly what Gamespot should NOT have done. It really set the reviews on this site apart from a site like IGN.

snessnes
snessnes

why this sites search bar doesnt work?


what was wrong with the old one?

VintAge68
VintAge68

Honestly, I would prefer to see the total score calculated out of separate ones for:
-gameplay mechanics
-graphics
-sound
-duration
-diversion
So if it is true that GameSpot overvalues the technical aspects in video games this could be somewhat counterbalanced that way. But this way the numbers would not be only integers, of course.

windscar26
windscar26

YES! THIS MEAN THAT GTA CAN GET THE SCORE IT RIGHTFULLY DESERVES!!


A 7.3!!

Ronin893
Ronin893

I would like to see the 8.8 or whatever return. some games need to stand alone and not grouped together in 8s and 9s.

MrTrick
MrTrick

instead of scores...why not Zoidberg? :S

PayneKiller
PayneKiller

Don't know why people have problems with Good games getting an 8. 8 means Great!

pedram007
pedram007

The new GS site

+ Cool color palette

+ Mainstreaming of scores

+ Good video player

+ Excellent use of scrennshots

- GS vs Metacritic side by side score is gone (worst part of the new design)

- Can not easily choose which platform (Xbox / ps / pc / etc)

- Messy layout
- BoxArt gone!
- Download gone (not too bad)


Score 7

artvertex
artvertex

I know the score is not randomly generate. This new site is...

nicecall
nicecall

aye i must agree this is much cluttered now and does remind me of why ign is so frustrating to go to.  i like simple easy to find things, the site seems broken now

tomservo51
tomservo51

What's up this this new layout? It's so disorganized now, reminds me of why I don't go to IGN.

MateykoSlam
MateykoSlam

8 should be renamed from great to tom mcshea

santinegrete
santinegrete

I honestly believe they do that thing in the image with the lower row of numbers. lol

kingdo_goodbomber
kingdo_goodbomber

Reviews used to have 0.1 differences, then it became 0.5 and now it's 1.0 differences.  Next up there will either be a red or green colored stain to signify "good" vs. "bad" as part of Gamespot's new troglodyte friendly marketing. 

ushbag
ushbag

This article is abysmal 1 out of 10, jk. You know what? I actually like the 20 point rating scale (scoring games with 0.5 increments). Video games don't need a 100 point scale; when reviewers give a game a 9.8 out of 10, or a 9.9 out of 10, they might as well give the game a 9.81341341241926126 out of 10. I may not agree with most of GameSpot's recent reviews, but I still respect their scoring system.

GnugnaGnagna
GnugnaGnagna

The writer seems to think that most of the disagreement with the score of a game comes from a "deterioration" over time of the game...

IMO that's not the problem. The problem arises when a review score is suspiciously high or low. As it was with Rome 2: TW, for example.

Braxton Hakes
Braxton Hakes

I hate your new site. Guess I'll be getting my gaming news from ign from now on. What a horrable design its a mess.

fanirama
fanirama

I preferred the tenth scale used before so ratings would go 9.0, 9.1, 9.2, 9.3 etc. instead of the .5 increments now. So a game is either 9.0 or 9.5 or 10.0 which is stupid IMO. 

Rating GTA IV and MGS 10/10 a few years ago was just bs. 


Reviews should not be just "opinions" of GS editors but should reflect what a gamer would give it. You have to put yourself in an average gamers shoe as well to review it while removing any ridiculous personal bias you may have (e.g. misogynistic for GTA V. It is a GTA game for crying out loud. Maybe the reviewer never played a GTA before so didn't know). 

Still, the GS scores are wildly off the mark when compared to Metacritic. It is not in the same ballpark for many games which means GS is not trustworthy for reviews anymore. The std deviation is too much.


Edit: another thing I liked from before was the scoring system which gave a score breakdown like Sound, Gameplay, Graphics, Value, Tilt etc. This clearly showed where the game excelled. That is all gone now.

sugrim
sugrim

What triggers a 2nd review?

megafitch
megafitch

I think what would be better is if scores were dropped entirely, and they just have a list of pros and cons, that way there is no "OMG SHULD BE A TENN!!!!!!!!!11ONE!!" and people can either agree/disagree with the points given. Even I've gotten weary of certain reviews, I think chucking the number system entirely is definitely the best way forward. That way the reviews read more like articles with balanced pros and cons, rather than adding a mostly superficial number to the end of it and causing fanboy hate..

Dudersaper
Dudersaper

" Instead, as games come out that raise the bar, we adjust our expectations accordingly. A game that earns a high score today is probably better than a game that earned the same score on our scale several years ago."

I think lots of people need to read and understand this part.

MajorasMask00
MajorasMask00

Am I the only one here who was sad when Gspot ditched .1s?

simulacraman
simulacraman

Still whining over .5s? Hey, why not adopt a system based on scientific notation? Then we can get reeeeeaaal specific.

Read the reviews. The descriptions are more important than the numbers anyway. And the 10 point system as described seems more realistic than most. Top-weighting the numbers has the same effect as getting rid of the precious decimals anyway. Why should a 7 be mediocre? That's what a 5 is for.

Goriza
Goriza

Where are my followed games?

Spazzh20
Spazzh20

Why the hell can't I rate something .5 anymore that sucks.

liffi
liffi

I have to say that people dont understand the numbers at all. They dont understand that 7 is good game... It is playable game. They go spit profanities here when they get lower score than 8 or 9 of the game they like.

It's like the critic cant review things without people blaming their reviews. I think internet has given us whole lot of problems to people who try to do their job and people seems to not understand this. I am happy that I can read the reviews and see people who play games as job give us some idea what the game gives. I think review people are humas and have their likes and dislikes. If people dont like one persons reviews they should not read them and not come and complain about how the person suck and is idiot.

I love that you give us content and keep it up. I am avid reader and listener and watcher... Hope we get somewhat more podcasts please. 

Coldpain
Coldpain

@dark_death78  It's so true. The new layout pretty much killed it for me. I at least liked that you could see the GS, Metacritic, and User Scores all on one screen. Do they even post the Metacritic scores now?

liquidbutter
liquidbutter

@VintAge68 A game is more than just the sum of its parts. An overall experience is different than just the average calculation of its individual aspects.

sickzero
sickzero

@VintAge68 thank you for sharing this. my thoughts exactly! i miss the greg kasavin days...

Raxyman
Raxyman

@pedram007 Exactly that. GS vs Metacritic was the best way to decide whether the game interests you or not.

Coldpain
Coldpain

@tomservo51  Polygon is the only viable option at this point...too bad their community is crap.

dogman12602
dogman12602

@megafitch Agreed, people shouldn't go into a game thinking it's going to be bad or good based souly on a number. 

dark_death78
dark_death78

@Dudersaper "probably" as in "might be", but not likely. One would assume that a person reading scores/reviews would compare the respective opinions with titles at a similar time.

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

@liffi Exactly poeple don't realize that a 7 isn't a bad score. They go as far as to complain about 8's and sometimes even 9's...... even some of the stuff I love I wouldn't personally rate 10 because that's not how rating works. Everybody expects a perfect score when they like a game though. 

bledsoe45sbc
bledsoe45sbc

@liffi i think there is a inherent problem with a rating system that people don't easily understand but hey i'm not a genius working at gamespot
. and they don't seem to give a damn

liffi
liffi

@uglypinkmoose @liffi I hate it when they blame the person how he or she is bad person for giving a bad review. Seems like too many people take it that the reviewer say bad things about them as a person. I like to read reviews by x person usually cause he or she has similar taste as me so I get the feeling should I buy a game or not. Sometimes I just want to see what some one likes or dislikes about the game and do I feel the same. I tend to buy some games even if they arent the best just cause I like them and I like to play games. My games dont have to be best and even some of the best games I dislike myself... The number doesnt make me like or hate any game more or less. Sure if I am in between buying or not buying a game it can put the last nail in the coffin.

I think reviews are important thing that we need sometimes and most of the times they give us plenty of good content and info about games that we most likely love to play.