Review scores! Huh! What is it good for?

We’ve had a few reviews on MEW already and most of them don’t include a review score of any kind.

Review scores is something I think about every so often, and it came up again today.

For context: we’ve been travelling this past week and reviews/ratings are incredibly important in the hospitality and service industries. Having a bad rating on Google can sink your business. Uber drivers with poor ratings can get kicked off the platform.

However, the definition of “bad rating” has become utterly warped.

Most services have got rid of their five star rating system. I think Uber and Uber Eats still has five star ratings in some places, but if you select anything below 5-stars, they ask you what was wrong! Netflix and YouTube both ditched their five-star rating system in favour of a simple thumbs up or thumbs down.

It’s the same for accommodation. The host at the place we stayed at most recently explained that on services like and Airbnb, anything besides 5/5 or 10/10 is seen as a “highly negative” and “directly impacts our business due to the way the listings are ordered.”

Movie reviews seem to be different. There still appears to be a spectrum of a scores from professional critics, usually on the American scale of A+ down to F.

However, when it comes to movies there does often appear to be a massive disparity between what critics think and what audiences think. Add to that the fact that the Rotten Tomatoes “% Fresh” scale is widely misunderstood.

It also seems like everything under 60% or 70% is interpreted as “BAD! Do not touch!” In other words, the whole spectrum from C to D grades are actually treated as “F”. So you basically only have “A” movies, “B” movies, and “F — Do not watch” movies.

Anyway, the question is… are game review scores the same as these two scenarios?

So, my questions for you are:

  1. Has the “anything below full marks is negative” mentality of Uber, Airbnb, Google Maps, and infected games and other entertainment?

  2. Do review scores even mean anything anymore?

  3. Do you ever check reviews before deciding whether to play a game or watch a movie or series?

Let’s do an impromptu survey!

Quick/terrible survey

Do you like having review scores on games, even if it is just to pick a fight with the reviewer?

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

Do review scores on games mean anything anymore?

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

Do review scores on movies mean anything anymore?

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

Do you check reviews before deciding to buy/play a game or watch a movie/series?

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is least epic and 5 is most epic, please rate your enjoyment of this survey. Please note that any rating below 5 will be seen as highly negative. :smiling_imp:

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

0 voters


This is why I don’t give a score with my review - I don’t trust reviews these days since it is so easy to spam your way to either a good or bad review

1 Like

4/5 I do not recommend taking this survey :stuck_out_tongue:
On a more serious note, Steams review system is the only one I trust. There are flaws, review bombing to name one, but as a whole, the thumbs up/thumbs down approach seems to work better than a wildly subjective star rating system.


Please, sir. Why don’t you contact us privately so that we may resolve this issue rather than giving us a bad rating? Your understanding in this matter would be greatly appreciated.


Numbers save time. Can choose between a couple of movies, quickly look at their imdb ratings, pick the highest rated one.

New game comes out. Want to know the general reception instead of having to read through a review. Go look at Metacritic. Sorted.

Want to see what Soli thinks of a game, go look at his glorious trello board.





-1 star for not feeding me grapes and fanning me with banana leaves while aforementioned survey was being taken.

I feel like sliding scale ratings for movies has just gotten worse and worse, it’s created a whole cottage industry for “fixing” reviews and such.
It just doesn’t work the same as any other entertainment or leisure service. A movies is something that was created in a certain way, to be digested in a certain way. You watch a movies twice, it’s exactly the same both times. The only elements in your control are your seating arrangements, your company and your snacks, that’s pretty much it.
Having said all that, it still mostly does what it’s supposed to do. On IMDB objectively good movies are rated higher than objectively bad ones. Although there are cases where lots of reviews are either 0/10 or 10/10 for the same movie, which only tells me that the movie is divisive, not whether it’s enjoyable.

When it comes to games, hotels, uber, etc, you have waaaaay more control over your experience and I think this is overlooked quite a bit.
I can enjoy a game at my own pace, taking breaks whenever I want, pause and look up guides. I can essentially tailor the whole experience to my liking and I think there’s something to be said for that. If you have all those comforts at your disposal and are still not enjoying a game, then it’s probably not a good game.
It’s definitely not a movie being shoved down your throat all in one go as the director intended (even-though I know people who will watch a 90min movie in like 10 sittings, but each to their own).

I don’t know what point I was trying to make, I’m just rambling at this stage. gaem reviw gud. Movi reviw bad.


I agree about numbers saving time, additionally:

Sometimes I don’t want to read a review (to try and go in blind) but I still want to know if the game is a trainwreck or not.

Other times I think that the subjective wording used might be hard to understand. For instance:

“An enjoyable action game” 8/10
is a little different from:
“An enjoyable action game” 7/10

I know this is an extreme example but it seems like written reviews have been getting shorter, which leaves less room for detailed, descriptive writing.

I generally use reviews and their scores for things I’m on the fence about.

I don’t know if we’re quite at the point where “anything below full marks is bad” for games yet but we are close. Go to any review of a hyped AAA game that isn’t a 9/10 or higher and read the comments. Even an 8.5 is interpreted as a travesty. Once again, a fringe example, but it does happen.

The anything below 70% does seem to be interpreted as bad in gaming. I remember NAG Magazine had a controversial policy, where they regarded 50% as average. This caused a slight stir among the readers.

To summarise, I think reviews and their scores are useful to me. Either as a way to enhance the written text (or even video), or as a way to eyeball the game’s quality without reading the text.


It’s a bit of a double standard for me. I do look at review scores but purely out of interest and usually after I’ve already started the game/movie/book. It’s weird I know, but I’ll play a game for a couple of hours then hop over to open critic or metacritic to see what other poeple think, be they industry professionals or other everyday end users. I do the same for books on sites like goodreads.

Sometimes I’ll look it up before playing / reading / watching but I rarely let it influence my decision to try it out. I like to try a bunch of things and if I don’t enjoy it I will stop. Like I stopped reading Gone Girl because it bores me, even though I loved the movie.


I think seperate industries have a very different scale of trustworthiness. Game reviews, for instance, are in general very biased and influenced. The cost of games and the equipment to run them means that the games being reviewed are mostly sponsored. This in turns create a sense of obligation to give it a higher score (in general).

Movies on the udder hand (thanks Naas) seem to be more truthful when the movie sucks.

When it comes to games I like watching video reviews, more to SEE what the game plays like, than listening to the reviewer. It becomes very obvious when provided media footage is used rather than the reviewer’s own footage. Because I like such a wide range of games

Movie decisions are easier as the investment to watch them is lower, often already in a subscription these days. So a trailer is enough to sway me to watch a movie on TV. But cinema movies have to be big and loud AAA Blockbusters before I leave the comfort of my own house. On the odd occasion of me coming across a movie I have never heard of I will check a few rotten tomatoes reviews along with the trailer.


Also, THIS!

1 Like

I don’t trust reviews from ‘reviewers’, I prefer to see the reviews from ‘the people’ like the steam reviews/ratings. A place where there are thousands of opinions and not just 1 that most of the time is paid for.


Good point. I actually use that a lot too. But what I don’t like is review bombing on aggregators. Steam helped to fix this by adding a “RECENT” review score (also helps with updates etc) and also to mention the game was bought or gifted. Gifted reviews tend to be higher than bought. When you spend your money you will be more critical…


The question i want answered is: how many people have bought games, that received good logical and well put together reviews (more than just a star rating), and you realise you hate the game?
CynicalBrit, ACG and that irish oke, that made a Doom documentary. All respectable reviewers, outside the corporations, and their reviews still painted a disconnected picture of what the game was like.

Screw all reviews, I watch in-game footage post release, at least one week later, preferably one month later. Buying first before release day lately, just gets you into the @#$%ing beta tester club. I’m not here to pay to find your god damn bugs. A lot of games feel like they only finish MVP development 6 months after :angry:


Like @Entity said, I also find my tastes to be reflected better in the user ratings of platforms like Steam, Metacritic, IMDb, and Rotten Tomatoes.

The averages of the ratings given by professional critics are often much lower or much higher than I would have given something.

However, I agree with @oltman that review bombing on the very platforms that give the audience a voice is a problem.

It’s why I mentioned the issues with ratings on platforms like Airbnb and Uber. By making it so that 5 stars is the only positive review, they’re effectively encouraging their clients to “reverse review bomb” their listings (I’m sure there’s a better term for that).

To my mind, they are all the same problem caused in different ways by the same root symptom — financial interest.

Regarding free review codes vs. paying for the game… I disagree with the statement that you are more critical when you spend your own money, but only slightly.

I can point to some examples of where professional reviewers were very critical of a game they got for free, and where paying fans defended horrible practices by game companies.

However, more useful than examples is science. There’s a kind of confirmation bias mixed with the sunk cost fallacy that causes people to view stuff they paid for more positively than if they got it for free. Kind of like a reverse buyer’s remorse.

That said, I do agree that professional critics, YouTubers, and other “influencers” can be subtly or overtly swayed to give something a higher or lower review score.

I just don’t think it’s as simple as receiving the thing you’re reviewing for free.

From my experience in the industry, it’s got more to do with whether or not you or your publication has some kind of financial partnership with the company whose thing you’re reviewing.

Stuff like advertising contracts, brand deals—present or future—can influence a professional review.

In other words, it’s not only about whether a publication or influencer is receiving money from the publisher or studio at the time of the review, but also if they ever hope to receive money from that company ever in future.

Wow! This got long.


It would more useful if review disclaimers stated whether there is a financial relationship between the reviewer and the game dev, than if the disclaimer stated whether the reviewer got the game for free or not.


Drat. My thesis got so long I completely forgot to give an example here. I was somewhat hesitant to give it because of how contentious it is online…

So, new rules for this topic: If this example spawns a whole separate discussion, that’s cool, I’ll just split it off into its own topic.

If the discussion becomes anything less than 9001% civlised, I’ll split it off and nuke it from orbit.

Here goes…

An example of a movie that was completely underrated was Alita: Battle Angel. I mean holy cow 53% on Metacritic?! The user score is 86%. I would have given it between 75% and 80%.

On the flip side of that is Captain Marvel.

For those who may not know, Alita: Battle Angel and Captain Marvel were caught on two sides of some culture wars nonsense, which resulted in the skewing of review scores (professional and user) on both sides.

The critic metascore for Captain Marvel is at 64%, while the user score is 35%! I would have given Captain Marvel between 65% and 70%. It scores a few awesome points because of the Flerken.

So yeah, two examples from one Internet drama showing how neither the average critic scores nor user scores truly reflect the quality of the actual content (in my not so humble opinion).


I guess you would be more black or white and no middle ground. You will either defend it to the end of the earth and back, or completely slate it and want your money back.

Although as I type this I guess this was back when I only had a library of like 10 games at a time… These days there are so many games that any critical comments or defensive comments end up lost not in the crowd, but in the library!


They can be useful if you also know the past history, likes/dislikes of the reviewer and compare it to your own experiences.

1 Like

Simply put; I read, watch or listen to reviews to find out what the game is like. Mechanics, problems, highs and lows etc. The rating at the end, be it a point system or just a buy/pass system, to me just serves as statistics and is mostly irrelevant.


I can’t put my feelings into words on this.

Can you put it into numbers? :stuck_out_tongue: