Metacritic is a website that aggregates reviews of media products: films, TV shows, music albums, video games, and formerly, books. For each product, the scores from each review are averaged (a weighted average). Metacritic was created by Jason Dietz, Marc Doyle, and Julie Doyle Roberts in 1999. The site provides an excerpt from each review and hyperlinks to its source. A color of green, yellow or red summarizes the critics' recommendations. It has been described as the video game industry's "premier" review aggregator.
Metacritic's scoring converts each review into a percentage, either mathematically from the mark given, or which the site decides subjectively from a qualitative review. Before being averaged, the scores are weighted according to the critic's fame, stature, and volume of reviews.
Type of site
|Alexa rank||1,222 (June 2018)|
|Launched||July 16, 1999|
Metacritic was launched in January 2001 by Marc Doyle, his sister Julie Doyle Roberts, and a classmate from the University of Southern California law school, Jason Dietz, after two years of developing the site. Rotten Tomatoes was already compiling movie reviews, but Doyle, Roberts and Dietz saw an opportunity to cover a broader range of media. They sold Metacritic to CNET in 2005. CNET and Metacritic are now owned by the CBS Corporation. Doyle, 36, is now a senior product manager at CNET but he also acts as games editor of Metacritic". Speaking of video games, he said: "A website like ours helps people cut through...unobjective promotional language". "By giving consumers, and web users specifically, early information on the objective quality of a game, not only are they more educated about their choices, but it forces publishers to demand more from their developers, license owners to demand more from their licensees, and eventually, hopefully, the games get better". He added that the review process is not taken as seriously when unconnected magazines and websites provide reviews in isolation.
In August 2010, the website's appearance was revamped.
Scores are weighted averages. Certain publications are given more significance "because of their stature". Metacritic has said that it will not reveal the relative weight assigned to each reviewer.
Games Editor Marc Doyle was interviewed by Keith Stuart of The Guardian to "get a look behind the metascoring process". Stuart wrote: "The metascore phenomenon, namely Metacritic and GameRankings, have become an enormously important element of online games journalism over the past few years". Doyle said that because video games lead to a greater investment of time and money, gamers are more informed about reviews than are fans of film or music; they want to know "whether that hotly anticipated title is going to deliver".
The rating scale of metascores is:
|Generally favorable reviews||75–89||61–80|
|Mixed or average reviews||50–74||40–60|
|Generally unfavorable reviews||20–49||20–39|
Nick Wingfield of The Wall Street Journal has written that Metacritic "influence[s] the sales of games and the stocks of video game publishers". He explains its influence as coming from the higher cost of buying video games than music or movie tickets. Many executives say that low scores "can hurt the long-term sales potential". Wingfield wrote that Wall Street pays attention to Metacritic and GameRankings because the sites typically post scores before sales data are publicly available, citing the respective rapid rise and fall in company values after BioShock and Spider-Man 3 were released.
In an interview with The Guardian, Marc Doyle cited "two major publishers" that "conducted comprehensive statistical surveys through which they've been able to draw a correlation between high metascores and stronger sales" in certain genres. He claimed that an increasing number of businesses and financial analysts use Metacritic as "an early indicator of a game's potential sales and, by extension, the publisher's stock price".
In 2004, Jason Hall and Marcus Johnson of Warner Bros. began "including 'quality metrics' in contracts with partners licensing its movies for games": if a product does not at least achieve a specific score, some deals require the publisher to pay higher royalties.
Some game reviewers take issue with the way Metacritic assigns scores. When a reviewer gives a rating of "A", Metacritic assigns it a value of 100, and for "F" a value of zero; some think a score of 50 would be more appropriate. For a "B–", Metacritic assigns a value of 67, yet some publishers, developers and websurfers believe it should be closer to 80, in line with the conversion often used in the US education system. Joe Dodson, former editor at Game Revolution, criticized Metacritic and similar sites for turning reviews into scores that are too low. However, Doyle responded: "I feel that ANY scale simply needs to be converted directly with its lowest possible grade equating to 0, and the highest to 100".
Doyle said that some publishers want him to include extra critics, and exclude others, usually because they have given a poor review. Another common complaint from US publishers is that British critics should not be reviewing games that are based on American sports like the NFL, NASCAR, or the NBA. Doyle said: "Conversely, many European publishers feel that American critics are not qualified or properly situated to review football, rally, F1, cricket and rugby games...once I've decided to track a publication, I cannot pick and choose which reviews I list on Metacritic based on such individual judgments".
Publishers often tried to persuade Doyle to exclude reviews they feel are unfair, but he said that once a publication is included, he refuses to omit any of its reviews. A Washington Post review of Uncharted 4 was assigned with a rating of 40% by Metacritic; this was the only "negative" review of the game. Gamers who did not like the review petitioned Metacritic to remove the Post as a trusted source.
As a result of its perceived negative influence on the industry, several reviewing sites, including Kotaku and Eurogamer, have dropped numerical reviews that would appear in Metacritic, instead favoring a qualitative assessment of a game.
Metacritic has been criticised for how it handles banning users and their reviews, with no notice or formal process for appeal, and users have complained to the Better Business Bureau about the difficulty of contacting the company. Critics and developers have pointed out the website's lack of personal management along with its automatic systems, since a video game can be review bombed with low ratings to damage its reputation. In the same respect, a game can be given multiple 10 ratings by throwaway accounts to make it appear more popular than it actually is. Signal Studios president and creative director Douglas Albright described the website as having "no standards".
Metacritic lists over 9,000 films ranked by aggregate score on a Marcus rating scale.