Review scores have been a lightning rod here at Operation Sports for a long time -- for a variety of reasons. While we have tried to allow reviewers as much freedom as possible in scoring games, we also realize that our approach the last several years also lacked consistency because of that openness.
One man's 8 is another man's 7, while one man's 9 is another man's 8.5. Review scores are subjective by nature, but the scale should at least be used to its fullest extent.
Most gaming sites use some form of the 0-10 scoring system -- some use 100, others 10. One thing most all gaming sites do, which I feel is a crime, is make that scale much smaller. Most sites, OS included, have considered average games in the 7 - 7.5 range -- right about what you'd consider an average college paper to be.
Since OS runs off of a system where we have 20 stops to score a game between 0 and 10, making 7.5 the middle of the scale meant that you were effectively making up to 30-40 percent of the scale unnecessary because you can only go so far down on the level of bad a game is before it simply becomes unnecessary.
With that in mind, you also crunch a lot of similar games into the same category and give them similar scores. So suddenly a bunch of games that may actually be a noticeable step behind others are given a similar score as those games because there's not a better way to describe if the game was good or very good -- except by giving it another half a point.
While we briefly discussed removing scores from reviews altogether, we simply could not come up with a system that would satisfy everything that needed to be satisfied. Instead, we decided to try to rethink scores. What we came up with was more an evolution than revolution.
Starting next week, every review you read will be scored on a new 0-10 scale here at OS with the entire scale being taken into account. Instead of an average game being a 7 or 7.5 (depending on your definition of average) -- a reviewer's perspective of an average game will now be a 5.
At first glance, you might think we are actually rating games lower -- but that's not actually the case. And a lot of people are going to voice concern without reading this blog because suddenly what they feel are good or average games will suddenly be getting scores like 5.5 or 6.5. However, that won't be the case. We simply felt like we either needed to use the entire 10-point scale to differentiate between similar games, or we needed to shrink the scale. We have chosen the former, for better or worse.
Is this system going to be perfect? Not even close. Is it going to be an improvement? We believe so. Will people still argue about the merits of whether a game is good or great and whether the reviewer was on drugs for thinking the opposite of what the reader believes? 100 percent for sure, yes.
One final note, all of our existing reviews will NOT be retroactively scored, but instead they will sit on their own merits. The tip-off for you the user on whether a game is being scored under the 'new' 10-point scale is if the review box with pros, cons and the score is at the top of the review (rather than at the bottom). If so, it's being scored under the new system.
As always, we welcome your feedback and input. I expect the same old debates about the merits of some scores to start up in no time, but I also expect this new scale to allow us to be more accurate in how we score games in our genre, which should be our goal in the first place.
If you are interested in what each new score means, you can check out my supplemental blog which explains the system from 0 - 10.