Feature Article

About GameSpot Reviews

Remember to read the text, not just the score!

GameSpot reviews come in all shapes and sizes. There are the standard game reviews you're used to seeing; there are reviews in progress; there are updated reviews of ongoing games; and now, there are scored reviews of other kinds of entertainment, like movies and TV.

All that sounds complicated, but it's really quite simple. While our approach to reviews can and will grow and change over time, the purpose of any GameSpot review remains the same: to provide a well-argued, honest, and thorough opinion about a game, movie, or TV show. But what's an "updated" review, exactly? And what do those numbers mean? This guide is here to help.

GameSpot Review Scale

Reviews don't boil down to just "I like it" or "I don't like it." GameSpot reviewers--which includes editors, video producers, and talented freelancers who fill in the gaps--are dedicated to thoughtful, robust criticism that takes a number of factors into account. The score is a point of reference, but if you want to really understand whether a game (or movie or TV show) is for you or not, you'll find what you need in the content of the review itself.

GameSpot uses a 10-point review scale with no increments--so there are no .5s. Here's a quick breakdown of what our scores represent:

10 - Essential

9 - Superb

8 - Great

7 - Good

6 - Fair

5 - Mediocre

4 - Poor

3 - Bad

2 - Terrible

1 - Abysmal

Reviews In Progress and Early Review Impressions

If you've been on GameSpot in the last few years, you've likely seen a review in progress or two before. Game reviews are published "in progress" if we've played a significant amount of the game but haven't been able to see some aspect of it fully--in many cases, it's the online component, which we of course can't experience properly until after the game has officially released. This way, you can get a good idea of what the game is like and what we think of it around the time of launch, keeping in mind that a few aspects might still be question marks.

You'll know it's a review in progress because of the headline, but just in case you miss that, the score is also blue instead of orange. We also make sure to include in the text of the review what we still have left to do before we can finalize the review--and keep in mind that details, including the score, are subject to change before we flip the switch.

In rare cases, we won't have access to a game until right before or even at launch. In these situations (which mostly consist of online-only games), we may publish "early review impressions" based on our first day or so with the game. These early impressions are unscored and a little less formal, and you'll know exactly what we've done and what we still have to do before we're comfortable moving on to the review in progress or even the final review.

Updated Reviews

We've been saying a lot about "finalizing" reviews, but in reality, a lot of games are not final at launch or even two weeks after launch, once servers are stable and bugs are patched out. More and more games change over months and even years, and so while a final GameSpot review is mostly final, there are some cases where we will want to revisit a game down the line and then write a new, updated review to reflect the times.

In these cases, a game will have to have changed significantly from the version we critiqued in our original review. But not every game that has changed gets this treatment--there are only so many hours in a day and so many GameSpot reviewers, so the decision to write a new review of a game comes down to the interests of both our staff and our readers. We use our best judgment based on our own experiences with a game and what people in general are playing, plus what needs fresh criticism as opposed to news about live events and updates.

Finally, an updated review is not a chance to "undo" a previous score or opinion. The original review still lives on GameSpot, and you'll be able to read both to get a picture of where the game was and what it is now.

If you have any questions about game reviews on GameSpot, feel free to contact reviews editor Kallie Plagge or editor-in-chief Randolph Ramsay. For questions about TV and movie reviews, reach out to senior entertainment editor Mike Rougeau.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com


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408 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for csward

Crash was never the official PlayStation mascot Gamespot! Get your facts straight.

Avatar image for lzand0z

you guys are pretty much the only site i access outside of youtube reviews.

Avatar image for Sam3231

So what you're saying is.... reviews are similar to the discipline of economic or political science.

Avatar image for marcocat

I always check Gamespot reviews before purchasing a new game.

Avatar image for teppolundgren

Well, not to poop on your parade, but I really only consult your reviews for a second opinion.

My main concern is always what ACG has to say about a new game.

Avatar image for bentleyj10

All my favorites are gone...VanOrd, O'dwyer*, Kish. Down with Lucy though!

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@bentleyj10: Well, as far I like both Mary and Danny (and I really miss them), they weren't reviewers at GameSpot.

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Good shout out for if people don't like the GameSpot review they can easily writer and post a review of their own on what they think of it

Avatar image for romeothebeast

I'm still a little hurt over the DK: Tropical Freeze review

Avatar image for 5tu88sy

Just implement binary scoring: 0 or 1

Avatar image for Arkhalipso

You guys should probably use a 5 scale. People would complain a bit less.

Avatar image for Subaru1980

Who remembers GameSpot's review of Alien Isolation? A 6/10 for a true masterpiece, while nearly all of the major medias/websites praised the game back in 2014.

One of the worst reviews in GameSpot history.

Avatar image for gamingdevil800

@Subaru1980: IGN and Gamespot both panned that game but steam, metacritic and angry joe etc gave it good scores.

Avatar image for jyml8582

Reviews are opinions...your scores may affect viewers' willingness to purchase a certain game, but only a complete idiot with no mind of his own would take your score to heart. I believe most of us here reading your articles are strong-willed enough to understand that.

It is the question of whether your score can be influenced by monetary means.

Take Destiny 2 for instance, it's too obvious how much influence Activision had on Gamespot during the first 2 weeks of the game's release. I personally don't mind the overwhelming amount of articles about the game, I'd just scroll through to find the ones that interested me to read. Then you gave it an 8/10, I've played both Destiny 1 and 2 enough to know that simply can't be right. The sequel is a DLC to the first game at best, it has nothing new and even more of the repetitive chores you called "quests". Giving it an 8/10 and calling it "Great" botches Gamespot's reputation and its standards towards games, you guys went from a respectable source to some leisure read. It shows that your opinion can be bought, and your reviews are no longer objective.

I'm not asking Gamespot to go non-profit, but it'd be better if you guys can mark the sponsored reviews so that we know what to expect.

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@jyml8582: You just invalidated everything you said after your first sentence.

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@jyml8582: You started your comment by saying that "reviews are opinions" and then you said that they were wrong in giving Destiny 2 an 8 (which is 0.5 lower than the metacritic average). Even if they got paid to promote the game on the site, that doesn't mean that their review was paid too. It could be the case, but you can't assume that it's true just because of your nonsensical logic. Either all reviews on every single mayor site have been paid or you're wrong.

Avatar image for mattcake

With gaming sites relying on advertising payments from the people whose games they're reviewing, it's all **** now anyway.

Soon GS will switch to a "Should I buy it?" review score with "yes", "no" and "maybe" as the only options.

Bad, innit. The 0.5 scale was the best imo; Yes a review is subjective, that's the ****ing point of it, so get more than 1 reviewer to review stuff - someone who loves the genre and someone who doesn't. Aint like a tonne of games get released any more, not AAA anyway, so the effort could at least be made for those.

But then most people can look at a few gameplay vids and tell if a game is worth playing or not anyway so what's even the point any more except for people to argue the toss, or insecure people to know the game they enjoy is the "right one" to be playing at the time.

Avatar image for HCL2

Simply, when there is an extreme fan boyism within the GameSpot review team, such as it was the case with Sonic Mania, The game gets a good review.

There was someone in the review team claiming to be the first sonic fan EVER... Guys don't let fan boys and teenagers review games. And sometimes reviews are heavy on unnecessary metaphors..

Avatar image for fishnpeas1

I think re-reviewing titles after release sets a bad precedent for game companies to be honest, it tells them that its ok to release buggy unfinished games because they can collect the cash fix the game later and get a new score. Developers need to earn our money by creating a game that works from day one, even online titles.

Avatar image for risingdawn

I like reviews but I can't say I really listen to them, if I'm going to buy a game a rubbish review isn't going to change my mind, if I'm not going to buy a game a great review won't change that either.

I know myself the series' I'm invested in, the genres I'm not and the games I like. I've bought and enjoyed games with scores of 5, I've been disappointed by games of scores 9. Reviews are handy when you're on the fence, something new you just not sure if you will like. At their best they describe some of the systems and gameplay and I can make my mind up on that, but when they stray (as they often do) into opinion I take it with a pinch of salt.

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@nibbin1191: PSSST. . . this article is over 3 years old (recently updated). Too late to complain now.

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@nibbin1191: Seriously. They keep bumping the Destiny 2 articles so they're at the top of the recent articles. A minor inconvenience to skip past them all, but an inconvenience none the less.

Avatar image for ecurl143

I honestly don't take the review scores that seriously anyway but I do find the information provided in a review, usually quite interesting.

What bothers me the most I think and Destiny 2 is a classic example of this, is how the review score didn't really match the carpet bombing of articles on this site for the game. It's pretty clear that there is something else going on with how a game is advertised as opposed to how it's eventually reviewed. That part of the business I hope, is not tarnished by these things but I do remember the now infamous Kane & Lynch saga with Jeff, so it does go on. I'd like to think that's how things were in the past - not now but as a gamespot consumer, I'd never get to know about this kind of behaviour until after the event anyway.

The game advertising revenue aspect is pretty clear to see but I do wonder if a review is influenced in any way by the big corporations. The review of Destiny 2 would suggest otherwise. It only got an 8. A decent score but not a great one. We will never really know what goes on behind the scenes at Gamespot.

Avatar image for Riprock

There are serious flaws in your system (and I am sure there are others beyond what I mention)... Basically a game has to receive a score of at least 7.0 to be truly considered any good (ok, 6.5 may be acceptable). 5.0 (right in the middle) is not "average" on your scale. This means you have a range of 1 to 6 for different degrees of being bad and only a range of 7 to 10 to distinguish between the subtleties of how good a game is. I am more interested in the variety of ways a game may be good, as opposed to the numerous ways a game can be bad. Let's face it, if a game gets a score of 5.0 or lower it's basically a death sentence, so why do you need a range of so many numbers to indicate the game is bad? - it's a waste and not particularly helpful. Like I said I am more interested in the shades of goodness, such as "this game is only for those who like this particular genre or franchise" or "the game mechanics are good and makes for a lot of fun, but the story is thin or the menu navigation and options are flawed" or "this game isn't perfect, but it's a truly outstanding achievement and totally addicting". There are so many ways a game could comprise a variety of good elements and you have restricted yourself to a range of 7 to 10. To top it off you rarely give out a score of 10 (which is fine generally), but means you really have less of a range to work with AND you have gotten games you've scored with a 10 completely wrong (often in retrospect) or missed games that should have been scored a 10 because of minor issues or reviewer bias. So your range is skewed. In the end. the only scores in your system that matter is 1, and 5 to 10. You may as well have just used a scoring system of 0 to 5.

Also, you overvalue innovation too much and undervalue just plain good fun. Often in your reviews if a new game is too reminiscent of an old game, you rate the new game lower as a result, even if it has great game-play (and may look much better than that older game). You forget that (similar to those who review movies) you play more games than most people - not everyone has played that game from 15 or 20 years ago that you think so highly of (but is in fact dated now). [Side Note: I'm not sure how 8 bit graphics became all the rage in recent years, when those of us who lived through that era decades ago were so glad when we began to get good graphics in a game.] Anyway, review a game on it's own merits. The old game may be a classic to you, but it isn't to a large part of younger gamers. I am an older guy, but there are many games and game systems I have never played and I don't own multiple systems, so I don't have the same nostalgia as you or some others may have. Remove nostalgia from your bias. If this new game seems to replicate many of the features from an older game don't penalize the new game, particularly if it's done well, has superior graphics and is "fun to play" - give it an appropriate score (especially when very few may ever play that older game that you're comparing it to). You can mention this game is similar to X, but score it on it's own merits.

[One good thing: Multiple reviews on games that evolve over time is a good thing.]

On another note, I hate the label of "Essential" for a game that you've given a score of 10. Essential to whom? For example, I detest Grand Theft Auto. It may very well be a really well-made game that many truly enjoy (I get that), but it's not for me. Essential is subjective. I would replace Essential with "Outstanding". Remember, most gamers aren't wealthy, so most of us are NOT buying or playing several dozens of games a year. Most of us get a handful of games each year that fit the style, genre, or our particular game preferences. And what you consider "essential" may not cut it for for a number of us for a wide range of reasons.

FINALLY, stop giving away the story in game reviews. Many reviewers give the whole story arc away in a summary of sorts. Stop doing that. We don't need or want that. Just briefly tell us the nature of the story (with no spoilers) and focus on what you thought was well done or not as it affects game-play.

And please don't let corporate interests diminish your love of games and providing good (not poor or speculative or hype) content to the gamer community. We just want to know if this new game is worth our money and fits our interests to be added to those handful we will buy/play. We need good timely reviews to make that call.

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@Riprock: You're leaving out consideration for social convention and making it all math. Unless all the other sites change the convention, GS's scores would look out of wack

Avatar image for Riprock

@streamline: I agree that there would be problems changing things (and not align with other sites), but that doesn't diminish the fact that the rating system (for GameSpot and most other sites) is BROKEN or BIASED. Therefore, I suggest people don't put too much weight in the score and actually read what the reviewer has written, because portions may or may not apply to you and your game-play preferences. Use the score as a general sense, and the article for the details, but realize the games you like and the way you play could very well be different than the reviewers. Too many take the score way too literally - a mistake when the system is broken.

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@Riprock: in a scale from 1-10, 5 is definitely not "right in the middle" or "average".

Avatar image for bdrtfm

You say you re-review games when they see significant changes or improvements etc. but, it doesn't happen nearly enough. Plenty of games have received terrible scores due to launch issues and the reviews were never revised once those issues were fixed. I think that hurts the site and also hurts the reader because they read that review and see the score and either choose not to get the game based on irrelevant information or they do get the game and think the reviewer and site are clueless because the game has improved since it was reviewed but was never updated. Halo MCC was a good example of this. It had major issues and received a 6/10 because of it despite the fact that the developers achieved something that had, until then, never been done before and thus, issues should have been expected. And even when they fixed the issues and gave away a free game as an apology, that 6 still remains and one of the negatives says that multiplayer barely works. Multiplayer works fine now. Where's its update? There are a number of games that this has happened to. I realize it's hard to find the time to update reviews but saying you do so regularly when you only do so very rarely is a little disingenuous to those games with reviews that remain unchanged despite being fixed and improved. It seems the only games that get this treatment are games that are still very current and have a huge player base and just got a major piece of dlc or some such thing. Games that don't still enjoy a huge player base are stuck with that negative and now irrelevant review forever.

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@bdrtfm: I agree in general but then I think if they and other reviews did update reviews enough, then that would inadvertently encourage (or at least not punish) developers to release unfinished games knowing that they can just update it later. There are currently too many games that receive major updates that should have been delay or the original game.

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@bdrtfm: they don't have the time to update reviews when they got so many pointless destiny articles to write.

Avatar image for chiefwiggum16

Dont forget the critical rating of. Substancially more often than not Playstation games are rated higher than the Metacritic average. While Xbox games are substantially more often than not rated lower than the Metacritic average. #sonyspot

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@chiefwiggum16: get a ps4 is what I just read

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@chiefwiggum16: This is pure stupidity. I'm embarrassed to share a community with someone like this.

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@superklyph: Say what you will bud but facts are facts and it's been looked over many times by many people myself included. Why don't you try it yourself and start with xb1 ps4 era and see for yourself before opening your mouth?

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@chiefwiggum16: Try what? Gaming on XB1? I do.

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@superklyph: No, I meant research the fact. Or don't I really don't care honestly. I grow tired f this chit chat anywho. Game on buddy

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@chiefwiggum16: Funny you don't mention PC or Switch. A quick look at the high rated PC games shows them also above Metacritic.

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@darkelf83: I don't provide information I no nothing about. I researched this myself just in the ps4 xb1 era. I'm not about fake news.

Avatar image for Gamer_4_Fun

I want to know how do you guys chose who gets to review. For example Mike is a fan and understands a good immsersive sim, yet someone else reviews it.

Avatar image for girlusocrazy

I haven't seen it much lately but I liked when reviews would get a second take by someone who spent a bit less time with the game, but just to get their thoughts and perspectives. Who knows maybe I'm thinking about a different site. But I like seeing that.

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@girlusocrazy: I think Game Informer used to do that. They still might but I never get their magazines or go on their site anymore. They used to call it a "second opinion" and it would be a much shorter review and have it's own score as well. I miss GamePro also. Mainly because they had a category for 'fun factor' which at the end of the day is the reason I play a game.

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@girlusocrazy: Gamespot did do that occasionally. I liked that, too. I realize there are not enough resources to have 2 people review every game, but it's definitely worth it to the readers when they can. I wish that GS made sure to get reviewers with different perspectives (one familiar, another not as familiar with the genre or brand, etc), but I know that's hard to pull off without being pretty familiar with all of them.