In fact even under the evolving process of moving from the old scale to the new one no game has achieved a 9.0 in that past 13 months or so.
And interestingly enough, people are beginning to ask if a 9.0 is even possible at OS anymore. Whereas many sites hand out 9.0s like they have no real meaning -- for the new scoring scale to work, 9.0s will be exceedingly rare here at OS as long as "your's truly" is in charge and sports gaming continues along it's current path.
A 9.0 on our new scoring scale basically means a game has no part of it which is a weak point. All of the major modes work and work well, the gameplay is great, the presentation is great, and any flaws are incredibly minor.
With a careful survey of NBA 2K12, you'll see it doesn't meet those criteria. The online play has been a mess and My Player and Association have some serious problems. The gameplay and Presentation are incredibly good, but those two things alone don't make a game completely a classic. Yes, 2K12 will be talked about for a long time to come -- but it still has notable shortcomings and only the most ardent rose-tinted 2K12 glasses wearers will refuse to admit that simple fact.
A lot of you guys are used to the typical college paper grading scale where 9.0s or 90s mean the game is A quality, 8.0s mean the game is a B, etc. Here at OS, we made a conscious effort to basically move away from that thought process and to grade games on a full 10 point scale. If you see a score here at OS and think, "Oh a B, well then..." -- you simply don't grasp the scale. It won't be easy and it will take some time, but I think the new scale will really prove itself with time.
Any game getting an 8.0 or above on our new scale here at OS is a GREAT game. It simply isn't a 9 because there are some serious flaws within the game holding it back from being in the category we described above. 8.0s are worthy of the price of admission almost always -- and really should be celebrated as great works here at OS. If you really want to put an equivalency to it, a 8 to 8.5 is probably more equitable to a 9 on most sites which go the college paper route. But to make hard and fast comparisons of each score to a grading level is probably not too fair to the current scale.
Along the same lines of what makes a game great, games scoring in the 7.0s have aspects which may be great -- but areas which are also in need of serious repair. This means a game is likely good but simply not great. The token game for this rating level is Madden this season. The gameplay is something which is close to greatness (if not already there), the Presentation is good but not great, and the Franchise mode has a ton of depth wrapped in a jumbled interface. While no aspect of Madden is incredibly weak -- it also suffers from a lack of aspects which are incredibly strong. I called Madden 'good but not great.' I think that's the token saying of a 7.0 game.
As you work down the scale, the variability in case studies also increases. If we were to talk about what makes a game a 6 versus a 7 on our scale, you have to get into how a game could have good gameplay, decent presentation and horrible online play or how a game could have great presentation, decent gameplay and a great online mode, among countless other potential examples.
Simply put, working your way down to the areas in the middle of the scale really jumbles up the cut and dryness of the ratings. We prefer to make value statements from 4 - 6. For instance, a 6.0 is most likely worth the price of admission for fans of the sport while a 5 (average) is only worth the price of admission if no better options are available. A 4 (below average) is not worth the full price of admission unless a game is heavily discounted from it's full price.
Of course, it's not as cut and dry as that -- but we're trying to at least make the scale worth your attention. That means editorial decisions are more heavy handed in how games are scored. We are always striving to match the wording with our scale and scoring rubric (you should see how extensive the rubric guide is for our writers!).
I think the end result will be over time, the best sports-gaming reviews possible will reside here at OS.
Chris is the Executive Editor at Operation Sports and hosts the OS Radio show. He is a Jesus-Freak, Entrepreneur, Speaker, Stom Chaser, owner of the Tornado Titans Brand, and generally an incredibly busy man. You can follow Chris @ChrisSnr on Twitter.