Why star classification would fix game reviews

Star classification should be used in game reviewsKotaku’s Mark Wilson perceptively describes the current and outdated state of video game reviews.

If there is no such thing as a perfect game, then why are you scoring out of 100?… Movie reviewers solved this problem a long time ago. That’s why most adopted a simpler rating system in which a 4-star movie didn’t imply “perfection” but supreme excellence.

The star classification system (preferably four over five) just works better. It would allow gamers to quickly gauge a game’s quality while paying more attention to the actual review, all without taking the review score too seriously. One star is “poor.” Two stars “mediocre.” Three stars “good,” and four stars “excellent” (never perfect).

Then again, Metacritic would just convert the score to a 10-point scale, but at least you’re doing your part.

23 Responses to Why star classification would fix game reviews

  1. cygnus says:

    I totally agree. And there is no problem ranking several games during the year with 5 stars. A 5 star rating becomes the “Editor’s Choice” type of thing.

    Even though I’m not crazy about the content of their reviews, G4 at least has the rating system correct IMO.

  2. Will says:

    G4 Rating system is “Adam Sessler gives this game a 3 out of 5.”

  3. Clonester says:

    That’s good reasoning.

  4. gojiguy says:

    That’s pretty good, I guess, but I prefer a full review with a small summary, summing up the good and the bad. No score, just a summary and a review. If the summary intruiges you enough, you will want to read the review. If not, make your decision there.

    The problem with reviews is that people no longer trust their own opinion. They wait for a review. They wont rent it and see if THEY like it, they want to see if Sessler or Bozon likes it. I say independent investigation gives the best personalized reviews.

  5. Sakuragi says:

    I will recommend a site called TheWiire.com , their sytem is actually a very compelling one, specially tailored for Wii games. They are a little slow content wise, but they have nice editorials from time to time and IMO, they are very serious about reviews.

  6. InvisibleMan says:

    Honestly, I don’t see the difference between stars and a numeric “grade”. 4 stars = 80%.

    What I do find puzzling is how reviewers manage to get an opinion so quickly after a game’s release… I realize that for many it is their job so they have plenty of time to do that, but even if playing a game without pause, I find most current games to be so long and have so much replay value that it should take at least a few months to get the most out of them. How can a reviewer have an opinion on every aspect of the game, including its ending, and especially its online multiplayer aspect, if they game just came out??

  7. Brandon says:

    yeh, i’m a fan of the star system. And indeed, 4 star= perfect. 5 star = gay.

    I listen to the Wiire podcast and occasionally read their reviews. They’re pretty good.

  8. Andrew G. says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

    I am perfectly fine (nay, quite happy) with the numeric system. It’s a far better gauge than stars. It gives me an idea of the quality of the game. Having (let’s say 5 instead of 4) stars is simply not detailed enough. A game that gets three stars could either be “below average” or “average.” A game that gets a 5 is “below average” and a game that gets a 6 could be considered “average.” See? No confusion.

    And while there may not be a perfect game yet (well, that’s debatable, really), the point of the “whatever out of 10” system is to analyze the game and see if it meets the current standard of being “perfect” or “near perfect.” For instance: IGN, when breaking down Phantom Hourglass’s scores into the categories, gave it’s graphics a perfect 10. Know why? Because nothing on the system meets that game’s visual quality up until this point, no question. Something will likely come along soon and dethrone that game in the graphics department, but it’ll still remain a perfect 10 because at the time of its rating, it was the best.

    Why do you think Ocarina of Time still got perfect 10 ratings when released on the Virtual Console, despite being a much older game? Because at the time of its initial release, it was a perfect 10, and it still holds up today.

    I swear, Infendo, I love your site, but you have to stop beating this dead horse.

  9. Rauru says:

    No one realizes that’s exactly the same as the system they used before? Honestly, if it’s out of 5 stars increments simply increase by 20% or 20 points each time and is no better, less or more complex than the game rating system used currently. I think the rating system is fine the way it is and that you scan over a review for points your interested in and base your decision on that.

  10. Andrew-MG says:

    “I swear, Infendo, I love your site, but you have to stop beating this dead horse.”

    Good luck with that.

  11. whataboutki says:

    This is the most retarded thing I’ve heard….. do score out of a 100 because that means perfect….. score out of 4 because that just means excellent! Give me a frickin break, why not just say 100 means excellent and not perfect.The only way your going to do this right is to just drop the a score rating system all together. It can be done. Most of the better album reviewers out there don’t give any star, point, thumb, smilely or any other generic crap score anymore, they merely give their opinion about what type of music it is list they band influences and show how they have expanded on those. Pretty simple hu! Could it work for games of course it could.

  12. cygnus says:

    The only difference bewteen a 4 (or 5) star system and a 100 point system is the number of increments. But that makes all the difference in the world.

    I mean seriously, what is the difference between a game that gets an 84 and one that gets an 85? It’s all a matter of opinion.

    But give both of those games a 4 out of 5, and the minor differences are left up to the individual. Movie reviewers have figured this out long ago. You just can’t rate something like a game or movie with that much accuracy.

    The 100 point system is only there for the fanboy community to argue over. It’s useless from a consumer’s perspective.

  13. whataboutki says:

    Example which is better:

    Generic Game is a beautifully presented Action/Fighter. It takes the superior fighting and combo system of Street Fighter and throws it into a single player Action game that draws influence from the early Thief games.

    or

    3 out 4 stars!

  14. Blake says:

    @whataboutki

    That seems like an unfair question and assumes only one type of reader. Of course the above is better, but why not append the whopping 14 characters at the end of the review (3 out 4 stars!) so a reader can gain some sense of comparison? If a reputable site deems something as 1-2/4 stars, I won’t even waste my time sifting through the mediocrity.

    The Associated Press does this on its game reviews and it works like a charm. Matt Slagle, the AP’s lead game writer, writes the most objective, tamed reviews I’ve ever read. And rather than inflate a review score with artificial accuracy of an excessive point system, he uses four-point star classification (occasionally with half stars) which astutely does its job — gives the reader a point of reference. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  15. ResidentialEvil says:

    I have to agree with Andrew G and Rauru, you’re basically trading 6 for half a dozen. All you are doing is changing the scale, it’s STILL a rating system, and I agree it’s even less of a detailed one than out of 100. Dead horse indeed.

  16. Dark-Magik says:

    Changing the current rating system to stars and what not isn’t going to change anything. People are still going to find problems with it.

    We’re going to end up with ANOTHER rant at Infendo about how a game on the 360/PS3 got a 4/4, 5/5, two/three/four/five thumbs up and how the system needs to change. Blah, blah, blah.

  17. If you really want a simple rating system, how about the good old Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down.

  18. Fank says:

    How many games got a 100 score? Exactly. And any game that did get that score obviously deserved it. Nothing can be perfect, so don’t see 100 as a perfect. See it as near-perfect.

    This whole thing is one big paradox anyway. Waste of time to discuss it.

  19. Fank says:

    Also “Why star classification would fix game reviews” is utterly stupid. It would still be judged by a person, and you depend on the person who judges it and rates the game. Fuck seperate ratings, just combine it and if you really must judge a game, judge it on the average rating. Other than that: stop living in such a controlled world and decided for yourself what you think is good and what you think isn’t good. Damned conformists.

  20. Ryan says:

    The problem with stars is that some publications will inevitably fall prey to the 3 and a half star syndrome, which really is no better than a number system.

  21. reefinyateef says:

    I don’t mean to be businesslike, but reviews should an abstract / executive summary with pros and cons (sort of an expanded version of what IGN does at the beginning of their reviews), followed by a detailed review. As a poster said above, thewiire.com does an excellent job, as does Gamerdad.com.

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