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Metacritic helps business objectivity, says Hayes

But Sega Europe president admits that the score aggregator must be used sensibly

Sega Europe president and COO, Mike Hayes, has told that he believes Metacritic is a useful industry tool that can help to provide "objectivity into the business" - but that it needs to be used sensibly if factored into developer deals.

He was speaking after earlier comments made by Splash Damage studio head Paul Wedgwood, who questioned the wisdom that such pressure applied to some developers to achieve certain Metacritic scores, calling it "ridiculous".

But Hayes points out that for any company spending the amount of money required to bring a top game to market, a metric for judging quality is important.

"The first thing is that we're always trying to put objectivity into the business," he said. "We're a creative business, and how do you put objectivity into it? But at the end of the day publishers will always want to do that, particularly if you're spending USD 20 million - you have to try and find that objectivity, and it's going to come from how much it costs, when it's coming out, and how good the game is.

"I don't think you can get away from that, and Metacritic provides a service that gives you a part of that."

But he noted that it wasn't a tool that could be applied in blanket-fashion across the board.

"It's horses for courses. If you're going for a high-end PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 game and you want to break out in the genre, or something like that, you have to target that quality - because otherwise you don't have a hope in Hell. There's too much evidence that shows games which score below a certain level in certain genres are not going to cut through.

"However, there are other genres and other platforms where we wouldn't put a developer against that score, because it's more about the brand, the license, the release timing - it's probably something that in the Metacritic basket of reviews, they're not going to look at the same things that we're going to look for when making a game.

"So when we're doing developer contracts, we won't say to every developer we work with that there's a target in there. But where we're spending a lot of money, and the score is essential to the success of the product, absolutely I think there's a value in it.

"We value the scores that we're given by the media - it's a very good way of measuring it - and I don't think it's unreasonable for publishers spending that much money to have certain expectations of quality levels. But to demand it on absolutely everything wouldn't be right at all."

The concluding part of the interview with Mike Hayes, from which these quotes are taken, will be available on Monday. The first part of that interview, in which he discusses at length the challenges faced by the industry in the current economic climate, is available now.

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Latest comments (6)

TM Project Manager 12 years ago
I would like to hear an in-depth explanation of how a metacritic score can be said to be objective. Anyone?

The only way I can see review scores being important (as opposed to letting the sale figures speak for themselves), is if a publisher want to protect the integrity of a really high-end franchise IP. But once the game is out, it's too late to protect anything, so why reward/punish the developer based on scores at this stage?

This simply increases the "murkyness" of contracts, which usually works to the advantage of the publisher and rarely benefits the developers.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.12 years ago
Most of the Metacritic review body consists of reviewers with similar affinities which causes certain genres, themes and age ratings to have an unfair scoring advantage.

Review scores as a metric to gauge objectivity should be held only to other games within said genre, themes, age ratings, etc...
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Martin Hollis Hardcore Feminist 12 years ago
I don't have numbers but my feeling is the vast majority of games journalists are 25-35 and male. This represents a thin slice of the general public.

Metacritic is a weighted average of these people's views, and so it is a particular breed of subjectivity. Metacritic does not and cannot claim objectivity.
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Show all comments (6)
Rupert Loman Founder & CEO, Gamer Network12 years ago
I think it'd be interesting if Metacritic release their formula for weighting scores as well - given it is owned by Gamespot, and they have said in the past that it's not just a pure average, I'd be interested in seeing whether they weight Gamespot reviews more heavily than IGN and others, or not... I genuinely don't know.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rupert Loman on 2nd February 2009 6:47pm

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Mat Bettinson Business Development Manager, Tantalus Media12 years ago
Hmm we can probably work it out examining enough of their database...
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Shane Sweeney Academic 10 years ago
Lets do Meta Analysis on MetaCritic.
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