Game Review Scoring – An Idea And Contemplations

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By Darren Whitham (@dazwhitham) on 26th September 2016

Love them or loathe them, review scores have been around for just about as long as the games we know and love. There has always been a desire for this simple system – a score upon which the gamer can base an idea of whether they should spend their hard earned cash on the next piece of gaming goodness they have their eye on.

Some people enjoy a score and some, nowadays feel that a score should not be given as gamers can get all the information they need from around the web simply watching gameplay from YouTube or Twitch or indeed just from the reviewers prose.

Scores can cause comment wars when scores given to games past are brought out to backup why a games score is deemed too high or too low by gamers who are passionate to defend or attack the quality of whatever may be the latest hype train they are riding along on.

The Last Guardian, err yeah, not much hype here

Personally, I have always enjoyed game review scores. I don’t think it’s just because they have always been there and they act as a crutch for a gamer who enjoys this tradition, for me these days, it’s all about quickly being able to get an average from reviewers / sites that I find personally back up my own gaming tastes. Even then, a game I am looking forward to will fail to get the score I had hoped for and this can, I must admit, shake my faith in the potential purchase I was about to make. I’ll still make up my own mind but there’s no shying away from the fact that for me, the opinions of gaming media outlets I respect really do have an influence on my judgement of a game. On the whole, I trust an average of this trusted circle of mine.

It gets awkward when certain games get very high marks on certain websites that you just really can’t understand and this shakes faith in the mainstream – I’m looking at you Evolve. Certainly my circle of trusted outlets has shrunk significantly over the years and it’s great that the internet gives so many gamers a platform from which we can gauge opinion of a games quality.

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9! IGN! 9!

Many people however don’t like a score out of ten or a percentage anymore and prefer a simple must buy / ok / avoid type scheme. Kotaku and Eurogamer both use such appraisal techniques now and hey, that’s fine. It’s a good way to avoid having the mirror of gaming scores past held up in evidence of future reviews. Though as I say, I must admit I prefer a good old fashioned score.

Anyway, the point I thought I would offer is that this got me thinking of whether an alternative scoring method could be used that was fair and could be backed up against past marks and that people could get behind as a standard. Well, I can dream.

After some thought I came up with the following system which is based upon taking away the need to assess graphics, sound, playability etc as separate entities and hinges the score (or recommendation) simply upon what I feel is the most important aspect of a game – Value.

Is this game worth your time and your money and if so, to what degree?

So, how can this be determined?

Well here is what I propose, behold The Spark Review Standard.

This system gives a score by working out a percentage based upon the value that the reviewer considers the game is worth against the games RRP. This then gives a score based simply upon Value.

So for example, lets take No Man’s Sky and apply my system.

Ok so at GAME, No Man’s Sky (PS4) is currently £45.99 – I think it may have been a £49.99 price point at release for RRP but can’t quite remember so let’s just use this.

Then, the reviewer decides whether the game is worth buying at full price. If so, the game is a must buy – 100% recommendation. However, for everything deemed wrong with the game, this would incur a penalty against the RRP and give the final sum that would give the score.

So for instance, if a reviewer determined that on the whole they thought that No Man’s Sky was a game worth playing but not at the RRP. Maybe more like the £15 mark, they would simply work out what percentage of the full price the price they think it’s worth is –

£15 as a percent of £45.99 = 33% (rounded up)

So this would give a score of 33% / 3.3 out of 10 / or 33 out of 100.

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Hey Max, I ain’t got hella cash dude, I need the value

So, it’s all based on the value for money of the game in question as perceived by the reviewer. Once this score is reached there could be a further scale introduced that this could fit into to perhaps mask direct comparisons in the future of Avoid, Okay, Good, Great (or you know, something like that) and the game would sit in one of these quadrants depending upon its percentage.

Let’s imagine a reviewer decides that Deus Ex (PS4) is worth paying £35 for of the £39.99 it currently is at GAME – obviously we would need accurate RRP’s at release as a standard.

£35 as a percent of £39.99 = 87.5%

So, there you have it, this is where my thoughts on the subject led me. Obviously this system would only work for games you pay for and it may already be in place out there in the gamerweb. Free to play would need some more thought but by the nature of being free don’t really require a score as much as your big blockbuster hyped up titles.

This is just an outline of an idea that occurred to me (maybe it’s already out there) and like any system it would need some work, some refining and polishing up but on the whole I think it would make a great review standard that is fair and upfront, in as much as a subjective review could be anyway and if we started adding ratings to games over here at gamersofthelostspark this is certainly a system that could be considered.

Sound good? Or is the whole written review and score method now simply an archaic tradition that we need to move away from? It’s funny that in trying to come up with a review standard based on value, ultimately you need to answer the question as to whether in this day and age a new system is even required.

I think I’ll shut that can of worms now. Right there…

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