Are AAA Game Publishers Influencing "Independent" Critics?
There have been other investigations into this concept; this cinemablend article refers to an interview where a developer admits softening up critics if not outright bribing them, but I wanted to explore the concept through the data.
Comparing average user score to average critic score for a few major game developers and franchises, we see some big differences between the two scores for certain publishers.
Only the Big Developers…
Though some developers had hugely differing player and critic scores, on average, critics gave a score of 70.9 while players were just a tad lower at 69.9. This suggests that the critics are not consistently off base from players, but rather, big franchise games are the exception to the generally accurate reviews.
Madden NFL 2021
Call of Duty MW3
Sometimes, Critics and Players Agree…
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Critic AND Player: 90
Critic AND Player: 90
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
Critic AND Player: 82
Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
Critic AND Player: 91
Sports Games Had The Worst Offenders
Lowest Call of Duty Critic Score Was 57.
Users Weren’t So Gentle.
There are some beloved games here by both critics and players:
Call of Duty
Player: 84 (Hard to beat the OG)
Call of Duty 2
Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare
Player: 79 (A classic for sure)
Do critics unreasonably love FIFA and CoD games? Are players unreasonably annoyed at paying $60 for the same game every year? Seems Likely.
Check out the raw data: https://www.kaggle.com/xcherry/games-of-all-time-from-metacritic
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I organized and visualized the data for this blog using Polyture. Here’s a look at the data pipeline I used to build the graphs for sports games, Call of Duty games, and all games.
I used a math node to add a column with the difference of user score and metacritic score. After noticing some trends there, I used row filter nodes to pull out a few categories with big differences (games with sports in genre and games with Call of Duty in the title) and plotted their scores.
For the graph at the top of the blog I also used summarize nodes to get the mean of (user - critic score) either grouped by developer or filtered by game title.