Game Review Scoring Guidelines 21:22, 20 April 2009 (UTC)21:22, 20 April 2009 (UTC)21:22, 20 April 2009 (UTC)21:22, 20 April 2009 (UTC)21:22, 20 April 2009 (UTC)21:22, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
Scoring games is an inexact science. However, it is important to have guidelines for all reviewers to abide to, so that we can have consistency with our scoring methods.
Neoseeker uses a 1-10 number scale to rate games, and doesn't use decimals. For example: 4/10, 8/10, and 9/10 are valid scores. When you are deciding upon a score, consider the following scale:
- 0 to 4 = Games rated 4 and below are exceedingly bad, not recommended for anyone. For any game rated 4 or below, the game reviewer is telling people to stay far away, and this score range should only be reserved for games with absolutely no redeeming qualities or entertainment value. It takes a special kind of FAIL to receive such a low score.
- 4 to 5 = Games rated 4 to 5 are just slightly more tolerable than games rated below 4. These games are probably also unsuitable for purchase, and overall, games rated 4 to 5 have too many problems to be overlooked. They are only slightly more playable than games rated below 4 and might possess some kind of redeeming quality, as the reviewer may specify.
- 5 to 6 = Games rated 5 to 6 have severe shortcomings, but meet some standards that qualify it as a playable title. A game within this range might still be entertaining in certain ways, but only to a select few. While games rated below 5 have problems in many areas (example: poor audio, visuals, noticeable bugs), games rated 5 to 6 have some elements that work and can be considered for future installments; however, these notable factors do not make up for the entire game's overall lack.
- 6 to 7 = Games rated 6 to 7 are considered average or below average but have more positive qualities than anything rated below 6. A game like this might look good on paper, but for whatever reason weren't executed properly in the final product. Sometimes it is possible for a game to fall between 6 to 7 but has some elements that some gamers, or a particular audience, will find appealing. For example: A hospital-managing game that the reviewer feels is overall pretty bad, but fans of simulation games might still enjoy it.
- 7 to 8 = Games rated 7 to 8 are seen as above average titles. They might have some shortcomings like some bugs in the final version, mediocre graphics, or a weak story, but there is nothing intolerably horrible about any of these elements. Games scored between 7 and 8 can be described as "not bad," but not great either. While this is not a stellar title, enough people might still enjoy it, and the game's potential appeal is apparent enough.
- 8 to 9 = Games rated 8 to 9 are generally well-made. They might have some minor flaws but overall, this is a solid game. Even a game that some consider generic (such as a war shooter) can earn an 8 or higher because it is apparent the creators put a lot of time and effort into thinking everything through, working out the problems. An example: Rainbow Six: Las Vegas had a few bugs and had an unexciting design, but it boasted good graphics, good audio, good gameplay, no real glaring flaws -- it's just a good game that many people can appreciate.
- 9 to 10 = Games rated 9 to 10 stand out against the competition. Many blockbuster productions will automatically fall into this range because of how much work was put into them, and it's obvious from the start these are impressive games. The game should flow together well, but a certain element of the game might really stick out more than everything else (like an amazing story or soundtrack). Games that earn a score in this range have gotten everything right, so to speak, and then gone beyond to impress and been a memorable experience for the reviewer. These games are pretty well always nominated for awards.
Average rating distributions
Generally speaking, your scale for most games should begin at 5; that is to say, what you consider a very bad game that isn't much fun might still only go as low as 5. It is uncommon for a game to be so bad that it deserves a score below 5, so be careful to score something that low.
Likewise, it is almost unheard of for a game to receive a 10. A 10 / 10 is an all-time favorite score, and you must think a game is absolutely fantastic if it deserves a 10. Realistically, most top sellers earn 9.7 or 9.8 ratings elsewhere, so a 10 should be carefully considered before it is awarded to a game.
Reviewers are free to rate a game 10 if they feel it really deserves this score, but reviewers should be be very discerning, and this should be a very rare occurrence, otherwise it devalues the significance of the 10 / 10 score. Be wary of giving out 10 / 10 ratings! Roughly speaking, most games will probably fall between 5 and a 9.
A game between 7 and 8 is a solid effort that will appeal to fans of the game's series or genre. A game rated above 8 should interest gamers even if they are unfamiliar with the franchise, and games receiving a score of 9 or higher should be reserved for games that will be considered outstanding and make a lasting impression for at least the year of its release.
Game reviews: Personal opinion or standardized ratings?
When you are scoring a game, you should keep in mind two points of view. The first way to look at the score is your own, personal response to the product. The second way of looking at the score is as your professional opinion, especially compared to other titles you've played.
Imagine you are given an MMORPG to review, but you do not enjoy MMORPGs at all. You should try to reach a balance between what you personally would rate the game, and how the game stands on its own in relation to other MMORPGs. If the MMO did not interest you very much, you might be tempted to rate the game 6/10 or lower, but as a professional game reviewer, it is your responsibility to imagine how other gamers -- not just yourself -- might judge the game, especially if they DO like MMOs. If the game was well-made, had no discernible flaws, and you think would appeal to MMORPG fans, perhaps it deserves a 7 or 8.
A game review is both a professional and personal opinion, though there needs to be a balance between the two.
Game reviews: Should we rate a game on its own merits or against other games?
For this question, lean towards rating a game on its own merits. But try to maintain a balance. Not all games are equal, but they may target difference audiences, or the developers might have tried to accomplish different goals. Each game you review will have it's own rating criteria unique to that title.
Take Football Manager 09, for example. Soccer management games are not expected to have multiplayer components, so it would not be fair for the reviewer to take off points for not having an MP mode. On the other hand, if an FPS lacked multiplayer and there was no justification from the developer for this exclusion, you may take away points.
What about awards?
The reviewers' awards offer the reviewer personal leeway on a title. For example, say there was one game that you enjoyed a great deal, but felt that perhaps other gamers would not enjoy as much as you did, so you rated it a 8/10. It would be fine for you to award the game a "Recommended" award, or even an "Editor's Choice" award.
Games can receive an Innovation award, Recommended, or Editor's Choice Award. Editor's Choice awards should be used sparingly, like the 10 rating.
Also, there is one award that isn't really an award: the 'Rental' badge. This is a badge reserved for special circumstances where you feel that the game was good but might not appeal to a broad audience or lacks lasting value.