Metacritic Refuses To Pull Review GameSpot Took Down

GameSpot replaced its original, “factually inaccurate” review of Natural Selection 2, scored at 60/100, with a new review that gave the game an 80/100, but MetaCritic is not revising the review entry.

Last week, GameSpot reviews editor Kevin VanOrd pulled his site’s review of Natural Selection 2, which was written by a freelancer, citing “several inaccuracies” and apologizing to his readers after they vehemently pointed out the numerous errors. GameSpot later ran a re-review by a new writer who scored the game an 80/100.

However, the original review remains on Metacritic, a 60/100 with a dead link to the full review. Speaking with Kotaku, Metacritic head Marc Doyle explained that they have a one-shot policy for all reviews and all gaming outlets.

Doyle said:

“Yes, the critics we track know—and I spoke to the GameSpot team about this this week – that we only accept the first review and first score published for a given game. I’m explicit about this policy with every new publication we agree to track. It’s a critic-protection measure, instituted in 2003 after I found that many publications had been pressured to raise review scores (or de-publish reviews) to satisfy outside influences. Our policy acted as a disincentive for these outside forces to apply that type of inappropriate pressure.”

VanOrd had this to say about the issue:

“The review had multiple factual inaccuracies that cast a shadow over the entire piece, so we chose to pull it and reassign, which is a rarity, of course.”

It’s unfortunate that the real loser here is the Natural Selection 2 development team, whose game is tarnished by that 60. Do you believe Metacritic should pull the review, or do you think it’s up to the individual review outlets to ensure they can stand by the reviews they put out?

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8 Comments on Metacritic Refuses To Pull Review GameSpot Took Down

Patches

On November 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Metacritic is right to keep the 1st review only…

And that incident will send a warning that reviewer has to be professionals with their works, because once released, you can’t take it back…

Accepting reviews changes would only open cans of ugly worms, like a ‘stop paying, stop receiving a 90% for your games’ practice… Already, I sometimes feel some reviews are plagued by that kind of business… Hard to imagine how a game as buggy as Diablo 3 (when released) could have received so much 90+%…

MPSewell

On November 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I agree that what they do does protect reviewers, but as this case shows it can illegitimately hurt companies. A magazine or online site is capable of rectifying a mistake, but Metacritic won’t? The only losers here are the guys who made NS2, and Metacritic is the one hurting them.

Kami

On November 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I don’t think changing your mind is the issue here. I’ve played some older games and actually often come away from them with a far greater appreciation of them, even if I didn’t like them at the time. Or even if I still don’t like them, I can grow to accept and appreciate the things that they do. There’s nothing inherently wrong in seeing things differently down the line. Indeed, we should all keep a somewhat open mind.

The problem in this case is that the original review was factually incorrect, and the reviewer was unprofessional and pieced together a review likely from hearsay and gossip as well as a few snippets of information from forums. This is an extreme circumstance, a rare anomaly, and therefore I think Metacritic may be wrong in insisting the original score is kept. If anything, I wouldn’t reassign it a new score but simply drop it. Don’t add the new one, just disregard it as an anomalitic happenstance. It serves no useful purpose when the original score was obviously not based on any factual grounding.

I understand the concern of updating scores later if a PR company or studio exert pressure. But that’s a long way from this situation, and it should be down to common sense and intelligent acceptance of what happened. Nothing bad will come from removing the score because it was based on dodgy ground. Indeed, it might actually make GameSpot more aware of some of these occurrences and endeavour not to repeat the same mistake again. The humiliation of having their score disregarded on Metacritic will be a pretty major slap in the face for their mistake.

It’s complicated. But I feel bad for the Natural Selection 2 team as a result. It seems most are actually really enjoying this game and it sucks to have this kind of scenario looming in the background, leering at you with a wicked troll-face grin.

Just pull the score. I can’t see it causing a domino effect if they’re open about it and state the reasons why the score was pulled. “Because the review was factually and technically incorrect” is probably a good a reason as you’re ever likely to get.

R.J.

On November 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm

I’d say that both sides have a point. On the one hand, Metacritic is right that publishers could push to re-review a game, perhaps demanding that a game be reviews after it is patched or something, so allowing a change would open that possibility. At the same time, this wasn’t an instance of people just disagreeing with an opinion, but actually pointing out that the entire opinion was based on flawed information.

Ultimately, it really stinks for this makers of this game. Even though the link is dead, and any amount of investigation would lead to the new review, but the whole point of Metacritic is so that people basically don’t have to investigate. For whatever reason, largely arbitrary scores matter more than the content of a review to a lot of people. If I were deciding, I suppose I’d have to side with Metacritic on this one. The risk of abuse is pretty apparent. Even if the exception was only made for factually inaccurate reviews, a publisher could push a reviewer to change a review and just tell Metacritic that it was based on faulty information. We’ve already seen an EA/Bioware employee try to discredit the user reviews for Dragon Age 2, so I’m really reluctant to open any doors that might offer temptation to publishers.

Derek

On November 16, 2012 at 11:22 pm

I didn’t realize that people pay attention to critic reviews. The metacritic user reviews are the only reliable ones. The user reviews of NS2 were quick to tear gamespot a new one.

Tigz

On November 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm

The critic reviews are unreliable, user reviews are usually spot on.
However, a low critic review can affect sales and even the entire future of a company as people tend to go by these scores quite a lot. In this case the devs of NS2 are the ones being hurt, because one so called professional cannot do his job properly.

Blame lies at this poor reviewer which i’ve seen talk like a 16 year old in some reviews before with completely unobjective reasoning. But considering GameSpot and MetaCritic are owned by the same mother company (Think about this for a moment.) they will most likely never publicly come down on one of their employees, and such a policy as this is a good excuse to further ignore the situation.
I do find exceptions should be able to be made, as it’s clearly proven there were factual inaccuracies leading to what was ultimately a non existant score. One that’s still being shown on Metacritic.

Suffice to say, the people at NS2 will lose thousands if not more over this… I say take it out of the reviewers pay! If only…

Wesker1984

On November 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Nobody’s heard of this game anyway, so it doesn’t matter. Stop whining dump and get back to things that matter, like whether or not Mass Effect 4 will let you have a relationship with an elcor..

Ron Whitaker

On November 19, 2012 at 5:42 am

It’s unfortunate that Metacritic is hiding behind a (poor) policy, rather than simply doing the right thing and removing the review. I agree that they shouldn’t let any organization replace a review, but when the website in question states that the review was factually inaccurate and is not worthy of staying up on their site, I can’t see how it’s serving the interests of Metacritic readers to insist that it stay up. In fact, it’s a disservice not only to their readers, but to the makers of NS2, the reviewers, and everyone else.

@Tigz – There are numerous problems with the user reviews on Metacritic. There are tons of people who post their review in order to ‘fix’ what they see as an inaccurate metascore. “Oh, Halo 4 has an 80? But I love Halo 4! Here’s a 10!”

Second, they’re totally anonymous. I see plenty of people in the case of this NS2 review calling out the reviewer. That’s fine, and it’s possible because he’s required to put his name to it. That’s not the case with user reviews. Sure, you’ll find some that you agree with, but they’re all over the map.

All of that aside, let’s not forget one important thing – reviews are OPINIONS. They’re not some edict from on high that say whether a game is good or bad with a flourish of trumpets. Want to know if you’ll like a game? Find a reviewer who likes the same sort of games you do, and see what he or she says. Not every reviewer is going to like the games you do, and you won’t like the game that I do in every case. THAT’S OK. As long as you’re having fun, that’s all that matters.