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Jurassic Park and Metacritic

On 11/22/2011 at 11:49 AM by Jesse Miller

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Yesterday we finally got our review code for Jurassic Park: The Game.  It’s usually not a good sign when review copies and codes are released after the game has hit the marketplace.  Being a smaller site, PixlBit doesn’t get review copies as early as some of the larger sites like IGN, Edge or 1up, but even those sites didn’t get the copies until after release.  Publishers and developers will often withhold review copies when they believe that the game in question will be the recipient of bad reviews.  The goal is to get as many sales as possible before reviews and word of mouth can spread and slow down or even halt sales.  Every now and then these fears are unfounded and the game still does well, but I’m afraid that this isn’t the case for Jurassic Park; the game just isn’t that good.

Press X to avoid this game now!

I’ll reveal more about the game when my review goes live in the following days, but I did want to address an issue related to the game and the developer Telltale Games.  Recently two employees were caught posting user reviews of the game – favorably of course – on Metacritc.  This certainly is not the first time that a developer has attempted to “manipulate” the score and it isn’t the most egregious case either.  The developers didn’t outwardly announce themselves as Telltale employees, but they didn’t exactly hide that fact either.  A quick Google search revealed who they were, which is how they got caught in the first place.

To be honest, this isn’t something that bothers me.  People make a fuss about how they were “scheming” and “jacking the system” but does anyone remember that we’re talking about the user review scores on Metacritic?  It would be one thing if professional review scores were being tampered with or faked, but there have been problems with the user reviews since day one and they aren’t going away.  The most telling issue being that they’re user reviews and users notoriously have a two point scale: 0 and 10.  Every game is either the best game ever made or the worst game ever made.  These scores have never been accurate in the first place so why are we getting upset when a developer, who has every right to create a user review of their own, does the same thing as countless other fanboys who will damn or praise a game that they most likely haven’t even played?

User reviews can be a useful tool if approached with the mindset that a majority of them are completely biased opinions of irrational gamers.  User scores shouldn’t reflect critic scores, but the variance shouldn’t be otherworldly.  When looking at user reviews, I keep my scope on reviews that are within +-2 of the user score (on a ten point scale).  So if the critic Metacritic score of a game is 75 I’ll look for user reviews ranging from 5-9 for the most accurate reviews.  Sure there are fewer scores that will fall into that range, but the reviews are more likely to be realistic, thoughtful and more accurate with the actual presentation.

One last thing, user reviews shouldn’t even be allowed to be posted until at least a couple of weeks after a game is released.  Reason being bombers will hit the site day one without having actually played the game and score it according to their emotional response to the game, as was the case with Modern Warfare 3 and others.

On another note, there will be another MIA this week in the form of Mutant League.   That article will post on Friday at 5pm EST.  If you have suggestions for future MIA columns, let me know.  There are plenty of franchises and games that deserve a second chance on the current generation of hardware.  Just remember that the game or franchise can’t be in development, nor can it have an entry on the current generation (rumors are okay) and the game must be well served by a new addition.  Not all games deserve to come back, so keep that in mind.

That’s all I got for you guys today.  Keep checking back to my little space for updates on what I’m playing and other various rants.

Happy Gaming.



Nick DiMola Director

11/22/2011 at 03:54 PM

I'll agree, user scores don't matter all that much, but the whole thing is still pretty shady. Let your game speak for itself, if you want to lend your opinion sometime down the line, do it then. Right up front like these guys did is just a bad idea.

Jason Ross Senior Editor

11/22/2011 at 04:41 PM

I think they should let Peter Molyneux write his own user reviews. I'd like to see what would come of that. Would he praise the game or would he say it didn't deliver what the studio promised...?

Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

11/23/2011 at 09:18 AM

In regards to late review copies, Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is the same way. I haven't seen any reviews for it on G4, IGN or 1up. All of those are big companies and yet they haven't reviewed it yet. That can't be too good either.

As for Metacritic, I never read the user reviews because there doesn't seem to be too many actual reviews in there. It's sort of like iTunes reviews. Most of them are 1s and 5s and the review consisting of "this is garbage, don't buy this EVER" or "Best album yet! It can't get any better than this!". No actual critiquing and everyone either loves it or hates it. Very bipolar.

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