Are These Really The Top Ten Games Of 2012?
We’re not far from the end of 2012 now, and many gamers are already debating which title deserves to be crowned ‘Game Of The Year’. As conventional wisdom suggests that high review scores generally indicate the most accomplished releases, curiosity may naturally draw you to Metacritic. But you’ll discover something slightly surprising if you head there.
Look up the ten most critically-acclaimed games of 2012 thus far on the popular review aggregator site, and the list currently stands as follows:
The World Ends With You: Solo Remix for iPad (score of 95)
Persona 4 Golden (95)
Cave Story (93)
Mass Effect 3 (93)
Punch Quest (93)
Bejeweled HD (93)
Mark of the Ninja (92)
Beat Sneak Bandit (92)
Tiny Wings HD (92)
Not exactly what you’d expect, is it?
Ok, so Journey, Far Cry 3 and Xenoblade Chronicles also currently hold a score of 92. And no-one’s suggesting that the titles listed above are bad by any means.
But there’s no denying that many of the year’s top games according to Metacritic are not ones you would imagine most gamers singling out in their personal 2012 highlight lists.
Indeed, some of these titles have ‘user scores’ that are far, far lower than their critical average, and a significant number are phone or arcade games that many enthusiasts would consider fun diversions, rather than fully-fledged experiences.
Even more eyebrow-raising is the sheer number of widely-celebrated games that don’t make it into Metacritic’s Top Ten club as it stands. Dishonored and Borderlands 2 just miss out, and there’s no room for The Walking Dead, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Diablo III, Sleeping Dogs, Assassin’s Creed III or Halo 4 either (though, to be fair, all of these titles do hold high overall ratings).
At this point, you might well be thinking ‘so what?’ Well, the reason this is interesting is that Metacritic actually seems to wield a fair bit of significance in the current gaming landscape.
It’s often the first port-of-call for those wanting to compare the relative receptions of different games, an analysis of data has suggested that Metacritic scores may well have a significant effect on game sales, and some publishers even take it so seriously that they attach bonus conditions for developers dependent on attaining a particular rating on the site.
And yet, many gamers have become deeply skeptical about Metacritic. Some express contempt over the inclusion of certain ‘dubious’ sites and the exclusion of other ‘reputable’ ones; some argue that the critical consensus in gaming now deviates so substantially from what most consumers feel, that review score aggregates are effectively meaningless as a result.
Looking at the list of games above, it’s hard not to share a little of this skepticism. After all, are these titles really the Top Ten games of 2012?