Metacritic Scores and the New Generation

I truly hope someone creates a band with that sweet name.  :)

The holiday gaming season of 2009 is upon us,  and as always, I continue to scour the Interwebz for review scores of fellow journalists and game reviewers to see if my hard-earned gaming dollar should be allocated to this title or that.  In addition to some of my favorite mainstays (Ars, IGN, and Joystiq being the heavy hitters), I always mosey on over to Metacritic to see what the greater populace is saying before making the final decision.

Today I stumbled across the Top 20 list for the Xbox 360 to see how many of these titles are newer titles that I should be paying attention to; here is the most recent list as of 10/15/2009:

Grand Theft Auto IV 98
BioShock 96
Orange Box, The 96
Gears of War 94
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, The 94
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 94
Halo 3 94
Braid 93
Street Fighter IV 93
Fallout 3 93
Gears of War 2 93
Forza Motorsport 3 93
Guitar Hero II 92
Rock Band 92
Batman: Arkham Asylum 92
Rock Band 2 92
FIFA Soccer 10 91
Mass Effect 91
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 90
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned 90

Seeing these numbers, it got me thinkin’ about how many multi-platform titles there are on the list.  (For the purposes of this discussion, I am not considering the PC as a platform.  Please don’t be upset).  This led me to review the PS3 Top 20 list to see about similarities:

Grand Theft Auto IV 98
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves 97
LittleBigPlanet 95
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 94
BioShock 94
Street Fighter IV 94
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots 94
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, The 93
Rock Band 92
FIFA Soccer 10 92
Rock Band 2 91
Killzone 2 91
Batman: Arkham Asylum 91
Fallout 3 90
Demon’s Souls 90
MLB 09: The Show 90
WipEout HD Fury 89
NHL 10 89
Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction 89
Orange Box, The 89

I thought I’d share a few observations first (of varying degrees of salience to the topic):

  • 60% of the Top 20 games in both lists (12 out of the 20) are multi-platform titles.
  • Some multi-platform titles have actually received different scores on the different platforms: 4 of the titles scored better on Xbox 360, 2 of them scored better on the PS3, and the remaining received the exact same scores.
  • Only one title in each Top 20 list is a downloadable-only title (or started life that way, to be more precise).
  • Only one title in both lists is a DLC title that requires the original game to run.

As I reviewed this data, I also started to think about why multiplatform games receive different scores at all.  The first reason is that there is a slight disparity of the amount of reviews from different outlets.  Picking on Bioshock for a moment, it released on the Xbox 360 months before it appeared on PS3, so many folks that rated Bioshock on the Xbox would naturally not go back for a second review of what is essentially the same game.  This, coupled with places like “Planet Xbox 360″ probably not being interested in reviewing a PS3 game, would lead to a slightly different weight of the scoring for the remaining review outlets (at the time of this writing, the Xbox 360 rating is based on 88 reviews vs. 51 reviews for the PS3 release).  Knowing this, it certainly keeps the admittedly small variance in the scores between releases.  While it has been generally accepted that the 360 versions of multi-platform releases run smoother, it doesn’t really seem to ruin the experience enough to reflect in the scores (at least, not in the sampling we are looking at here).

I’ve always communicated to most folks that a large majority of the titles published are released on both systems, so what is important will be 1. – any particular exclusives you have your heart set on, and 2. – what features a particular platform offers.  In large measure, the latter of these two points have been the most important in my mind (I’ve often stated that a vast majority of the titles worth playing are available on both consoles), but as I review the lists above, 40% of the “best” games (I want to slap someone for not having Dead Space up there) for a console are indeed exclusive.  In large measure, this makes sense: exclusives typically get the most money, for both development and (more importantly) marketing, as well as early access to new/advanced features of the console that will trickle down to other dev kits eventually.  This definitely has revised my view of how important exclusives are when discussing the benefits of one console or another.  I still retain the stance that the features of your console is probably the most important thing to consider, but with many folks barely having the time in a given year to complete 20 titles, the ones on these lists are a viable criteria to bring to the table.

One thing is for certain, if you have a busy life like yours truly, whatever console you enjoy will have at least 20 titles sitting in the wings ready to satiate your gaming addiction.

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