Some Metacritic Analysis #1

I have written about Metacritic on here before. It has become the standard industry measure of game quality. So in this article I am comparing the overall game quality (according to Metacritic) of the Playstation PS3, The Microsoft 360 and the Nintendo Wii.

Firstly lets look at the total number of games for each platform covered by Metacritic. The Xbox 360 leads the way with 532 games followed by the Wii with 324 and finally the Playstation 360 PS3 with 264. This is pretty much the order you would expect as Microsoft was first to market, the Wii is exceptionally easy to develop for and the PS3 was late to market and difficult to develop for. What you wouldn’t expect is for the difference to be so great. Over twice as many Xbox 360 games as PS3 games. This just shows how much effort Microsoft have put into supporting development on their platform and also how the commercial realities have made it the preferred platform for publishers.

For game quality I first looked at the score of the 20th highest scoring game for each platform. For the 360 this is a 89 (for Portal: Still Alive) for the PS3 87 (WipEout HD) and for the Wii 83 (WarioWare: Smooth Moves). So the quality of Wii games falls away very sharply compared with the others, even in the top 20.

So lets look at how many games on each platform scored over 75. It is 211 for the 360, 125 for the PS3 and only 66 for the Wii. So if you compare with the total number of games reviewed you can see that the PS3 is doing proportionately better even though the 360 has far more games over 75. The disaster is the Wii where the quality has fallen away massively. That there are over three times as many games for the 360 scoring over 75 as there are for the Wii is, quite frankly, shocking. As, perhaps, is the fact that the 360 has more games with a score of over 75 than the PS3 and Wii put together.

So, to look deeper into this lets look at the number of games scoring over 50 on Metacritic. For the Xbox 360 this is 447 (out of a total of 532 games). The PS3 does proportionately better with 247 (out of 264). The Wii is proportionately worst of all with 259 games (out of 324) scoring over 50.

To put this more starkly the number of games scoring 50 or less are 85 for the Xbox 360, 65 for the Wii and just 17 for the Playstation 3.

So lets look at this platform by platform. The PS3 has the smallest total quantity of games with 264 but has the highest overall quality with very little rubbish published on the platform. The Wii is very weak overall with a massive 193 games (out of 324) scoring between 50 and 75 and a fifth of all games scoring less than 50. This is the shovelware problem of the Wii platform. The Xbox 360 has by far the most games with a big scattering of quality. However the sheer volume of games published for it mean that at every quality level it has far more games than the other two platforms.

Well that was interesting. The two shockers for me are that there are over twice as many reviewed 360 games as there are PS3 games. And that the Wii only managed to score over 75 with just 66 games out of 324.

So I think I will revisit Metacritic for another look sometime, thus the #1 in the article title.


  1. Interesting article, i never really thought about it that way.

  2. “Well that was interesting”

    Not really.

    I don’t like metacritic. Mostly because people can just sprout off numbers and pretend that they mean something. People take it too seriously and it has started to get involved in the way developers get paid.

    It attempts but fails to take into account different scoring systems and differing “trust” in different review sources. Already with messing around does the final score become useless because it can be weighted unfairly on these factors.

    Different consoles have different sources because they have console only magazines and websites to draw from. Even if they are multi-platform, they may favour certain aspects of the game to be more important than others. Gameplay vs. graphics can become an issue for example.

    Metacritic only take into account the reviews of a handful of sources rather than all of them. This is for quality, but even some of the sources they use aren’t very good. It ends up being the luck of the draw. If one crap website gives you 60% and another crap website gives 90%, then it could go either way on metacritic.

    The IGN US review of Football Manager 2009 was big news yesterday. They were dumb enough to let someone review it that didn’t know anything about the game, the history, the sport, or about the genre and he gave it 2.0. The metacritic shot down from 90-odd to 70. IGN are a very trusted source on metacritic.

    These days, reviewers aren’t the target market for many games. The market has expanded and the reviews only speak for a small fraction (the snobbish hardcore) of gaming community now. How many good kids games get marked down because the review found it too easy and childish? How many good lifestyle games get marked down because they aren’t really games?

    Gamerankings uses as many sources as it can find, and I prefer that method of averaging out the good and bad reviews, rather than pretending that quality control is possible on a fundamentally flawed system.

  3. Metacritic ratings are as much of an indicator of whether games match the predefined expectations of games journalists as of product quality. If a game doesn’t involve racing, shooting or sports it will have its average score skewed by a wave of dismissive reviews. Many of the best selling Wii and DS games have no appeal to critics with a ‘hardcore’ enthusiast mindset.

    I see the Raving Rabbids games, Animal Crossing, the LEGO games, Ghost Squad, Tomb Raider and much else that is perfectly good in quality terms fall into the 50-75% bracket. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of these games to the average Wii user, who doesn’t care about online deathmatch, HD graphics or other things that reviewers obsess over.

  4. Robin, by your logic, you are saying that the best selling games are the highest of quality. That statement is simply not true, especially when it comes to the Wii. Sitting at about 35 million consoles sold it is inevitable that the Wii is going to have some high selling games. Wii Play has sold 16 million, but the game is garbage. People bought it for the free remote.

    You also have to take into consideration that Metacritic is an average of all reviews given. Obviously, the best recommendation someone can give is to rent the game and see for yourself how you feel about it. For someone that is serious about gaming and has been doing it for quite some time, you start to get a feel for which review site is most in line with your views. For example, IGN’s scores are usually pretty in line with how I feel about the game. Example:

    Raving Rabbids 1 got an 82 from IGN. I liked the game, but it was shallow, short, and repetitive. I would give it somewhere around an 85

    Animal Crossing City Folk got a 75 from IGN. I LOVED the first animal crossing for Gamecube. I was addicted to it. City Folk could be considered a port to the Wii with a “City” to visit and some more intuitive controls. Nothing new in gameplay ideas. I would agree with the 75.

    It is really hard for reviewers to not take into consideration that graphics basically suck. When you have Call of Duty World at War coming to 360 PS3 and Wii, is it fair to give them the same score for graphics because the Wii is running previous generation hardware? No! If the graphics aren’t up to par, they will say so. People argue over weather or not the Wii is competing the 360 and PS3 stating that its in a league of its own. Well you can’t have it both ways. If it is competing, reviews need to be harsh and critical of every aspect.

  5. Wanted to add another comment as I just read the last of BC’s post. Saying you prefer Gameranking over Metacritic is just ridiculous. They are basically the same site. Using your example.

    Football Manager 2009 PC (GR) 78.1 – 10 reviews
    Football Manager 2009 PSP (GR) 83.3 – 3 reviews

    Football Manager 2009 PC (MC) 83 – 17 reviews
    Football Manager 2009 PSP (MC) 83 – 4 reviews

    So in reality the PC version on Metacritic is not only sitting at a higher score, it has more reviews!

    Like I stated, using an average score to determine weather or not to buy a game is just a dumb idea. Rent the game and try it out. There has been one game this generation that I have sold because I didn’t like it. All the others have been keepers because I know what I’m getting into before buying it.

  6. I never said Gameranking was brilliant either, because it’s a flawed system anyway…I find it the lesser of two evils because you can look at the average score and know it’s not been messed around with or had certain reviews filtered out.

    As dumb an idea as it is, dumb people who can’t think for themselves are using it. These are the people who tend to have more power than they should, so it’s not just a matter of the consumer making an informed choice 🙁

  7. “Robin, by your logic, you are saying that the best selling games are the highest of quality.”

    I didn’t say anything like this. More like, sources that give every game not aimed at 18-24 year old males 50-75% scores do not provide a useful metric for judging the quality of those games.

  8. There are lies, damned lies and statistics.

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