I’ve already posted about why the video games industry should do away with review scores and now I’m here to talk about why we should keep them. The industry as a whole has always been about providing gamers the best game possible on the platform of their choice. In this generation and economy we find ourselves giving a more critical eye to games then ever before. Games have increased in retail prices at $60 a pop and have bigger budgets then anyone would ever imagine 20 years ago. They are also turning into a more cinematic age and we find ourselves turning to our media and so called “games journalist” to sit back, play the game and rate the game to see if it is worth our hard earned money. If we got rid of review scores all together, the industry probably wouldn’t know what to do with itself if all there was is a wall of text as a review.
What we see is only a handful of sites (including yours truly) that do not use review scores. We all believe that the current ratings scale is hurting the industry and the industry places too much emphasis on the individual scores from each outlet. However, how can the video games industry benefit from the use of a review score? Video games can certainly benefit from using the entirety of the review scale. These days it looks like review scores aren’t going below a 6.0/10. If publications were to consistently use their grading scale, and the entire scale mind you, there wouldn’t be so much controversy or backlash among Internet folks. Nothing hits this point home then when Gamespot awards a 7.5 to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Although no matter how you slice it, there will always be someone waiting to complain or dissect why your review sucks and why your score should be higher or lower. It shouldn’t deter you from moving on to the next to review and experience more that the video games industry has to offer. “There is something for everyone” as the saying goes.
Grading a game should not feel like hard work. If you build a proper case and present your facts and findings in a professional manner, the score should reflect that. Review scores can work on paper. You don’t have to eliminate them completely to prove a point, otherwise as a publication you’ll find yourself trying to gain success in readership and only one blog has shown to be successful at that is that of Kotaku. While some readers will be lazy and simply scroll over your review just to read the score, they’ll at least still be taking into consideration the points and issues you raise to back up your score. They may not agree with it, but you are making your case and can argue their points if they find something they disagree with. When you have smaller blogs such as ours, it becomes imperative to gain any sort of advantage you can in the industry to make your voice heard and recognized.
In order to gain success you will have to conform to what’s been in place since the video games industry has exploded. This can be achieved in many ways whether its by being different and grading your reviews on a harsher scale or modifying what’s already there and making it your own to stand out. You could add in a “pros” and “cons” section to add into your review thus lessening the impact of what would just be a score. You shouldn’t just remove review scores all together; because then you make it harder on writers to make their case if all you have is a summary at the end of your review as well as making public relations companies confused. Having a score makes it easier for PR companies to present this to publishers and developers alike, so they will be in contact with you more frequently. If you’re looking to gain trust and consistent contact, using scores may be the only way you could do that if you’re a rising blog looking to make it or break it especially on the Internet where everyone thinks their a critic. In essence, you could use the 1 – 10 rating scale in a variety of ways. You could add in a description and do away with the point increments, and just keep a whole value.
Point increments just simply make things a bit to complicated since you’ll have your review judged just as harshly. Assigning whole values makes things easier for everyone and makes the discussion afterwards more interesting. Clinging to an idea thinking it will catch will most likely not be effective in the long run. If you open yourself up to what’s there and make it your own, you can get your message across and find yourself having more success. You don’t have to change overnight, but if you work at it you can be successful. Review scores can be used as a starting point for any up and coming publication to make it their own and allow your fellow staff to feel comfortable where they are writing and enjoy their work without shooting themselves in the foot by sticking to one end all be all philosophy.