Average starts at five, not seven
Hi! I’m Chris Carter, the Reviews Director for Destructoid.com. I’ve been reviewing games professionally for around nine 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.
By nature, reviews are a subjective beast. They are based on our own individual opinions, and that may not reflect your exact feelings about 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.
How we score – the Destructoid scale
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. If you come into this believing that the only games worth buying are 9’s or 10’s you’re not really understanding what we’re trying to convey. Please take a closer look:
10 — Essential (10s aren’t perfect, since nothing is, but they come as close as you could get in a given genre. The new leader to beat in its sector.)
9 — Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won’t cause massive damage.)
8 — Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won’t astound everyone, but well worth your time and cash.)
7 — Good (7s are solid and definitely have an audience. There could be 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 titles available, but difficult to recommend.)
3 — Poor (3s went wrong somewhere along the line. The original idea might have had promise, but in practice, it 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 a plethora of issues. The desperate may find a glimmer of fun hidden somewhere in the pit.)
1 — Failure (1s are the lowest of the low. There is no potential, no depth, and no engagement. These have nothing to offer anybody.)
[Our scores reverted back to our original system in April 2016, after using altered descriptions for a year.]
Why score games at all, doesn’t Destructoid believe that video games are art?
In regards to why we use scores at all, our founder Niero set forth these ideas:
“To score a game is to take a stand. It is not open for interpretation or ambiguous in any way, nor does it attempt to soften the blow — it aims to make a mark. It draws a clear line in the sand as our bottom-line.
Ad companies have called us crazy for publishing scores. To us, it is a simple means of logically separating our favorite products apart from the junk. As a publisher, it can also be like deciding to go to war. 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.
Review scores are the shared currency amongst publications as standardized by MetaCritic and OpenCritic, both which we participate with. I’m very well aware that it is hip to call age-old review scores unnecessary, despite the fact that there is no doubt that they serve a basic utility of sorting. It respects people’s time.
I’m sorry, but the only true reason a publication will ignore this glaring fact and not publish review scores is to sell more advertising. They’re not a church and state business, and you should treat their bottom-line opinions as safe — and suspect.”
– Niero Gonzalez, Destructoid Founder
Our MMO policy:
Starting in 2014, Destructoid will be scoring MMO reviews, and moving toward more MMO coverage in general. The requirements for reviewing an MMO are strict, and involve expanded playtime at the max level cap, 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 fellow editors. 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 of 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.