Quake Wars Dev Says Metacritic Pressure 'Ridiculous'

Splash Damage studio director Paul Wedgwood recently called into question the publisher tactic of basing financial royalties on Metacritic scores--averages of review scores pulled from dozens of sources.

"Personally I think it's ridiculous," said Wedgwood when asked of the practice by GamesIndustry.biz.

"I think it's a really good idea for a developer to go to a publisher and demand that they get an additional bonus for achieving a certain review score, but it shouldn't affect their royalties or anything else. If you have a high-selling game, you have a high-selling game."

Wedgwood also argued for the five-star rating system that is typical in the film industry, rather than the percentile-based ratings that dominate gaming reviews.

"We know that some websites score quite high and some quite low, but in general, all websites tend to score between 60 and 100," he said. "There's never a 37. It's as if that whole section doesn't exist, so zero starts at 60, so three stars, and goes up to five. It's just not really an accurate enough measure.

"I think that if anything, the games press should take the pressure off themselves, and just go across to star ratings... Out of ten is a good start. Percentiles put too much pressure on a journalist to justify an exact score. It puts too much pressure on the developer to try and identify these criteria that lead to very specific point increases or decreases, which is not at all what the developer should be focusing on."

Splash Damage shipped Enemy Territory: Quake Wars in 2007, before beginning a long-term partnership with Fallout 3 developer/publisher Bethesda.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 20, 2009 12:50 PM

    i use metacritic to get a feel for what reviewers are saying about a game. for instance, many said the new prince of persia was a bit easy as you couldnt really die in it. however they also shared the fact that it is still fun to play and so i bought it, knowing its flaws that multiple people noticed and also knowing its strong points.

    I also read reviews of games on my favourite websites aswell as comparing them on metacritic as i get used to how a certain website scores games and i know if i trust them or not.

    Its interesting to read the closing comments on metacritic of the highest scores and lowest to see how they compare.

    I agree that royalties for devs shouldnt be based on this, however it is a useful tool for consumers and i would check out metacritic for a game that i helped make to see whats been said about it.

    • reply
      January 20, 2009 2:40 PM

      Sigh... PoP didn't change the *difficulty*. It changed the penalty for failure. When was the last time you played a game that gave you a GAME OVER and dumped you back to the title screen (where you have to start over, not reload a save)? Nearly every modern game is cannot actually be lost, because you can back up to some previous point and try again. Whether a failed attempt dumps you at the last checkpoint, the last save, the last level load, etc. matters far less for "difficulty" than whether the task itself is easy or hard.

      It's not like Elika waves her hand and you no longer have to complete the jump or defeat the monster. You still accomplish the same tasks; the significant distance lies in how many tasks you've already completed which now must be done again as the penalty for failing one task.

      The PoP developers realized that the failure penalty doesn't have a significant impact on difficulty, but has a huge impact on *accessibility*. New and introductory gamers don't get frustrated by difficulty, they get frustrated by spending more than 50% of their gameplay minutes paying the failure penalty.

      Sorry, personal beef of mine. Everyone talks about PoP as being less difficult, and they're only referring to Elika's saves, not whether the jumps/combat were too easy.

      • reply
        March 4, 2009 11:09 AM

        yeh, i see your point with it, but i found it tedious when, for instance, i had to fight an enemy and there was no way i could lose to it. If it hits me, erika jumps in the way. alright, i wont defeat it untill i pick up the controller and actually start fighting it, but it felt like it took away the feeling you get from a game when u defeat something knowing it was you or them. With prince of persia there is only one way and thats victory, its just the amount of time it takes u to do it. I suppose im just reiterating my point here but i felt like any skill i had in the game wasnt being rewarded very well as anybody better or worse would have done it the exact same way. The fact i may have done it quicker wasnt very fulfilling.

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