As above, Sega Europe COO Mike Hayes declared that Metacritic helps "business objectivity, and that it would be using Metacritic scores of studios to judge development deals and influence business decisions.
Reacting to Splash Damage head Paul Wedgwood's comments that Metacritic-based publisher-developer pressure was "ridiculous", Hayes 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 $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,"
He did of course clarify that not all games and franchises lend themselves as easily to statistically-based evaluation, and that the tool wouldn't be applied across the board uniformly.
My reaction, after the OH SHI- NOT METACRITIC AGAIN rage subsided, was actually a bit hopeful. After all, dangerous as Metacritic is, it remains a workable barometer for critical reception, and can bear at least some weight in the judgment of a game's perceived quality.
The hope came from this notion: if Sega intends to use reviews and critical reception to influence which games and franchises they're going to spend money on promoting and continuing, games like Valkyria Chronicles, Sakura Taisen, Yakuza, and the Total War games are inevitably going to rise to the surface, getting marketing dollars and time appropriate to their quality. Sega would then then start climbing out of the pit of ridicule they'd thrown themselves into with Sonic game after terrible Sonic game.
Of course, as is characteristic of Sega's consistently disappointing behavior, Hayes torpedoed my hopes with this caveat (emphasis mine):
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."
That, of course, is code for "We don't care if Sonic games are terrible, we're going to keep making them because Sonic is our core brand, so you can go to hell."