Average starts at five, not seven
It's been quite a while since we've updated our reviews guide from 2011, and now is as good a time as ever to set the record straight once again, and keep our readers informed of the review process.
Please read this (or at least skim it over) before you send us hate mail over a high or low review. To facilitate that process, I'll keep things brief and focus mainly on the major points.
Hi! I'm Chris Carter, the Reviews Director for Destructoid.com. I've been reviewing games professionally for around five years now. It's my job to give you an informed opinion of various games out on the market, so you can make a decision on what to spend your money on, or how you choose to spend your afternoons. Like Jim Sterling before me, I am here to serve the reader first and foremost, not publishers and developers.
By nature, reviews are a subjective beast. They are based on our own individual opinions, and that may not reflect your exact feelings on a game. Best rest assured, we strive for accuracy, and we will do our best to convey why a game made us feel a certain way. It is also our policy to review what's in the game, and not promises of what may come. We often may speculate on future features or facets of a game through the course of a review, but it will not affect the score.
Let me stress that although we do speak to PR on occasion to obtain advance review copies for games, we do not collude with them, any sponsors, or advertising agencies on anything regarding reviews or scores. Our review team is completely and utterly isolated from the ad team. I have no idea how they conduct their business, and I'd like to keep it that way.
Here's the full scale.
10 -- Flawless Victory (10s aren't perfect, since nothing is, but they come as close as you could get in a given genre. The new game to beat in its sector, we're talking pure videogame ecstasy here.)
9 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)
8 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)
6 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)
5 -- Mediocre (5s are an exercise in apathy, neither Solid nor Liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit "meh," really.)
4 -- Below Average (4s have some high points, but they soon give way to glaring faults. Not the worst games, but are difficult to recommend.)
3 -- Poor (3s went wrong somewhere along the line. The original idea might have promise, but in practice the game has failed. Threatens to be interesting sometimes, but rarely.)
2 -- Bad (2s are a disaster. Any good they might have had are quickly swallowed up by glitches, poor design choices or a plethora of other issues. The desperate or the gullible may find a glimmer of fun hidden somewhere in the pit.)
1 -- Complete Failure (1s are the lowest of the low. There is no potential, no skill, no depth and no talent. These games have nothing to offer the world, and will die lonely and forgotten.)
[Our scores were reverted back to our original system in April 2016, after using altered descriptions for a year.]
Our policy on scores:
Here at Destructoid, we use the entire scale. It does not start at "7." Let me repeat that -- if a game is less than "good," (7) it will be scored as such. Just because a game has obtained a "6" does not mean it's a "bad," game -- far from it, in fact.
In regards to why we use scores or why they're not implemented to make us more money, our founder Niero can answer that better than I can.
"Ad companies we've worked with have called us crazy for publishing scores. It really is like deciding to go to war. The only reason a site does not publish review scores is to sell more advertising. We have lost ad campaigns because we've given bad review scores, and frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. I'm not compromising our voice.
Still, we understand the danger of a bad score. For example, some publishers giving their employees pay cuts due to scores, but in that case we push it back on them. It's not our fault you choose this method to compensate your employees. Grow a backbone, stand behind your work -- and stand behind your employees regardless of what other people think of them. Stop blaming the gaming press for having an honest opinion."
- Niero Gonzalez, Destructoid Publisher/Founder
Our MMO policy:
Starting in 2014, Destructoid will be scoring MMO reviews, and moving towards move MMO coverage in general. The requirements for reviewing an MMO are strict, and involve at least one to two months of expanded playtime, and a requirement of viewing endgame content if applicable.
MMOs are large projects that are constantly evolving, but much like other titles that feature DLC and title updates, we can provide an informed snapshot to help you decide whether it's worth your hard earned cash and time.
Check out a full description of our Reviews in Progress program here.
Our review event policy:
Publishers sometimes hold "review events," where they invite multiple members of the press to a central session with the intention of having them score and review a game on location. While we've attended some of them in the past for coverage purposes (before November 2013, when I took over as Reviews Director), we do not score games based on review events, as we feel that the environments are too controlled.
Again, a game will never be scored by way of a review event on Destructoid.
Our DLC review policy:
As of 2014, we moved towards more DLC coverage. As the price of DLC goes up to the point where map packs are priced higher than some digital games, it's important to keep readers up to date.
As a rule, we will score substantial add-ons that bring concepts like new game modes and levels, and simply cover smaller DLC like costume packs with impressions when applicable.
This is how our reviews work.
Generally, a review copy or code is handed off to myself, or either Co-Editor-in-Chief, Jordan Devore or Laura Dale. Sometimes, we'll opt to purchase a game out of pocket. From there, we decide among ourselves which one of us is going to handle the game, or if we should pass it off to another member on staff. It's that simple.
As a rule, as the Reviews Director, I will cover major releases. The rest of us are full-time staff and it's literally our job to cover big games. We also have a number of talented contributors to rely on.
Contact me with any questions:
Finally, you can reach out to me anytime if you have any questions or concerns about our policy. You can find me at chriscarter[at]destructoid.com.