Videogames, politics, science, all the important things in life.

An average of 75%

Posted by nfinit on March 6, 2010

(Originally posted on 6-4-07 at

Friend of mine (mcc over on the Platformers board) whipped this up with about five minutes work over at and one of those fancy Apple Mac machines that makes graphs.

What you’re looking at are game review scores for every console made since the Dreamcast back in 1999.  And while it’s hard to tell what line from which console, that’s not the important bit, it’s the numbers themselves that are interesting.

The vast majority of game review sites and magazines use a 10 point scale to hand out reviews. As logic would have it, the higher on the scale the better the game.  You see (or should see, rather) very few tens handed out (perhaps one or two a year per source), 8-9 would represent exceptional games that should not be missed if circumstances allow, 5 is (if logic follows) average, anything below that generally not worth your time unless you’re desperate or an aficionado.

Now, here’s the important bit.  On this sort of scale, five should represent the average.  As the industry average, most games– if not the vast majority– should fall somewhere close to five.  But they don’t.  In fact, very few fives are being handed out, at least in comparison to scores further up the chain.

So what’s happening here?  The cynic in me would suggest that this is a clear indication that game scores are being bought, or that game magazines are reluctant to hand out scores that may hamper the advertising budget.  But there are other explanations– game reviewers being game fans themselves, they’re more liable to like all games and thus more prone to handing out above average scores.

You can’t have a system where the vast majority of anything is “above average”  Average should be just that – the average. But the implication here is that most games are exceptional gaming experiences, and that simply can’t work.  Not only does that fly in the logic of the word average, it’s also a befuddling thing to say to anyone who actually spends money on video games- we know full well that compared to the massive amounts of dross released each week that are very few games out there actually worth spending money on, maybe two or three per month on average.

What we have here is clear evidence that the review system, as it stands, simply cannot be trusted.  This may not be an issue to most hardcore gamers, being the sort that can easily find sources of trusted opinions via message boards and blogs, but for the layperson, the mainstream buyer that represents where most game buys are coming from, the review system is all they have, and it’s failing them.

Edit:  mcc Mac’ed up a couple more graphs that are even more telling.  First:

Note how very few games exist around the 50% mark.  Compare that to the mid 80’s onward to about 93 or so, when the graph trais off at 97-  There are at least as many games receiving 85-95  as there are 50-55%, if not more!

This last he created is quite damning.

Text his, not mine.  There is no way the current review system can be said to be functional!  It works on the premise that the vast majority of games are actually above average!


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