Why the huge gap? Top 10 PC game score discrepancies examined

What do you think when you see a game highly rated by critics but despised by players? Corrupt mainstream review sites? Fanboys counter bombing? I was curious and looked at the 10 games with the biggest disparity between Metacritic and User Scores and the reasons for the gap. Inconclusive conclusion at the bottom.

10. Need for Speed Rivals

Metacritic: 76 User Score: 3.4 Gap: 42 points

Reason: Everyone is foaming at the mouth over the game being locked at 30FPS. Aside from being deeply insulting it’s causing motion sickness and making people feel like they wasted their money on a two-video card Alienware. Critics don’t seem bothered in the least, claiming this Need for Speed has revived the series.

Representative User Review:
“While the gameplay itself is quite fine (nothing special but still playable), the problems are killing all the joys of playing this game. The famous FPS lock is just ridiculous. I have 2 GeForces running in SLI and the game (maxed out in settings) only able to load ONE of them for about 30-40%. So everything feels FAR from smooth (and I was somewhat expected some smoothness from AAA project released in 2013). There are no any anti-aliasing settings in-game, so the game looks extremely jaggy. Constant disconnects from the host are just killing me. In summary: do anything with the AllDrive system but remove the FPS lock, let me choose better anti-aliasing, do something about host migrations and the score would be in 7-9 range.”

9. World of Tanks

Metacritic: 80 User Score: 3.7 Gap: 43 points

Reason: Most users are furious at the harsh P2W features that kick in after a few hours of play. Free tanks suck and anything decent requires months(?) of grinding or serious cash output. A smaller but still large majority are angry at pro-communist propaganda and a perceived favoritism towards Russian players.

Representative User Review:
“The game simply does not provide positive emotions. Once you pass the initial excitement and start developing your tanks you find out that unless you’ve been playing the game for the last couple of years you gonna be a cannon fodder on the battle map. To avoid it you’d need to put in A LOT of money (say a hundred bucks per month) and A LOT of time (say 4-5 months of everyday play) to become a decent team member. But the game needs cannon fodder so they keep flocking in :)”

8. Payday 2

Metacritic: 79 User Score: 3.6 Gap: 43 points

Reason: There’s a lot of anger here at Overkill’s promise of no microtransactions and then predictable implementation of microtransactions (after 25 DLCs). The players universally love the game but feel tricked, especially as some of the items available for money are vastly overpowered.

Representative User Review:
“After all the false advertising, Overkill tried to do better. Or so they said. After that never happened, they promised to reward us with Crimefest. The rewards were poor, one was literally a paid advertisement for a movie, and we didn’t get the final rewards until almost a year later. Then Crimefest 2 happened. The first reward? CS:GO style weapon crates with skins that conferred stat bonuses. €2.50 a pop. For a game with almost £100 worth of DLC already. For a game that the developers said would never have micro-transactions. We were wrong for believing them.”

7.Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Metacritic: 86 User Score: 4.2 Gap: 44 points

Reason: Killing dedicated servers and reducing the multiplayer matches to 9v9 felt like a step backwards to everyone. The campaign was too short and of the 3 versions the PC is considered the worst. Critics sort of agreed with all those points but in the end reviewed the game in isolation of its predecessors as if all technical aspects had been sorted out.

Representative User Review:
“Don’t buy this game whatever you do, i spent £55 (£100USD) on this game. with the shortest single player ever in a FPS game. As you can tell by the user the reviews, this is the most frustrating purchase ever, bad game matching in multiplayer, millions of hackers (numbers growing day by day), no anticheat support, no dedicated servers = the worst game ever. looks pretty enjoyable single player for a few hours the most annoying multiplayer experience ever !!! Dont go with any Infinity Ward games !! They Spent Multi Millions, on Re Skinning COD4 !! and taking the best bits out ! a absolute CON !”

6. Batman: Arkham Knight

Metacritic: 70 User Score: 2.7 Gap: 43 points

Reason: This is widely considered one of the worst title launches in the history of bad title launches. The problems run the full range of issues you normally see in terrible ports. It’s one of the few games I remember being simply pulled from Steam with refunds given to anyone who even dated someone who played it. Critics noted the same problems and reduced the score but only as a slight penalty, not as a measure of an actually unplayable game.

Sample Review
“You would think, that in 2015, after public humiliation and lessons learned from the likes of EA, and Ubisoft that maybe, just maybe, Rocksteady and WB might have their s%^& together, especially when publicly announcing PC specific features. But this… this is sort of a set in stone example of what NOT to do with your PC port. The game is a broken mess, missing BASIC features such as Ambient Occlusion (which actually IS in the console versions), the lock at 30 fps is nauseatingly inexcusable, but somehow, even still, on an i7 5960x OC’ed at 4.7, and 2 GTX 970’s I’m getting hitching and stuttering in cut-scenes. This is a disgrace on so many levels. This is a DO NOT BUY Title on the PC. DO NOT BUY THIS. DO NOT SUPPORT DEVELOPERS who outsource studios to port PC versions.”

5. Street Fighter V

Metacritic: 74 User Score: 2.9 Gap: 45 points

Reason: Another terrible launch with inadequate servers for an “always online” game. Many people could not play even the single player portion for days. Fans also felt a starting roster of 16 characters is tragically and offensively stingy for a $60 game.

Sample Review

“Pure and simply does not feel like a complete game aand for its price tag is bodrderline offensive Just an opinion but how much does capcom pay reviewers on certain sites and magazines God only knows.
Back to the game no basic single player modes like Arcade.
The online does not work I have tried 10 to 15 minutes to get a match.
I think 16 charcaters to start with.
The graphics are meh.
All in all until a major patch has come out with a whole load of other modes and a working online AVOID THIS GAME IN THIS CURRENT STATE AND PRICE”

4. Call of Duty: Ghosts

Metacritic: 68 User Score: 2.1 Gap: 47 points

Reason: People seem very angry that the game needed 6MB of RAM to run (how quaint) and was quite large to download (25GB-50GB). And what seems to be a common complaint with Call of Duties – the game wasn’t sufficiently evolved from its predecessor. The reviewers agree, they just still think it’s a good game.

Sample Review:
“This game is just a pathetic display of arrogance by Infinity Ward; they are just saying “We can release the same game every year and you idiots keep buying it.” The ending is just a copy/paste of Modern Warfare 2’s, not to mention the reused assets from a game released four years ago. What exactly makes up that ridiculous 50GB download? I swear all of the critics must have been paid off by Activision because no ‘professional reviews’ should rate it so highly. Please don’t buy this game, it might just give them the wake-up call they need to actually make new content.”

3. Diablo 3

Metacritic: 88 User Score: 4.0 Gap: 48 points

Reason: The gameplay reasons boil down to oversimplification. The non-gameplay reasons center around a bot-filled auction house and an always online requirement that (surprise) didn’t seem to work very well during the launch week and intermittently after. Nothing says “you don’t own this” like not being able to play your single player game because of their servers.

To be fair, there are also many negative reviews that start with “I know I had fun for 150 hours but…”

Sample Review:
“This game is so horrible, it’s frightening. Jay Wilson has managed to turn a game that the world world was eagerly waiting for into a pile of fresh, hot steaming poop. Firstly, online play only has restricted many players from actually accessing the game in the first play, due to Blizzard’s horrible preparation and server maintenance issues. RMAH not ready at release, classes not balanced, difficulty levels not balanced. This game is just NOT FINISHED. We are in “open beta”. Welcome to the nightmare, this game is trash.”

2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Metacritic: 78 User Score: 2.7 Gap: 51 points

Reason: By far the most consistent reason given is that they already played this game last year with MW2, and possibly two years before that with MW1. The critics for the most part don’t disagree, saying it lacks technical evolution or calling it the FIFA of FPSs. They’re just scoring it like a standalone experience and not like a fan who had already spent $60 on a very similar game. I get why users are mad but it’s what I would do as a reviewer as well.

Sample Review:
“How about you make a new game someday instead of rearranging CoD4 over and over with new box art to make a quick buck. Modders and unpaid map makers do more work then your terrible cash grab of a company and this is what you get for spitting in your consumers faces… a metascore of 1.7. Maybe your console zombies will finally realise they have been being duped every year and stop supporting this $60 map pack garbage you call a full release! Im sure CoD MW 4 is already on the way with its token one feature change and new box art but I think I speak for all the intelligent people out there when I say take the whole franchise and stick it up your greedy corporate asses!”

1. Company of Heroes 2

Metacritic: 80 User Score: 2.0 Gap: 60 points

Reason: This one is easy to figure out. The Russians are mad at the depiction of their countrymen in the game (eating babies, shooting deserters, etc.) They also claim the game uses Goebbel’s version of history(is that true? I wouldn’t like it either). They also claim they are not orcs. Someone kickstart a game where WW2 soldiers take on Russian orcs.

Every one of the reviews I checked had just a single negative review in their history. It took thousands of “0” scores to offset the naturally good reviews such a popular title garnered. I wish I knew if it was robots, a few patriotic russians with time on their hands or a countrywide outpouring of nationalism.

Sample Review:
“Lies, begins even with a poster for the game. In the Red Army, 1941-1945 the Order of Lenin was worn on the left side of chest, and the cocarde was not applied on a soldiers winter hats. Only the red star. This cocarde applied on the time of Cold War, where, probably, game developers took his inspiration full of lie and propaganda.
This shows that the developers did not set a purpose to show the authenticity and validity of the times of the Second World War, but doing a restoration nazism ideals, trough the humiliation of those who fought with him.”

Conclusion:

Ten games is far too small of a sample size and Company of Heroes 2 is the only game I’ve played on this list (it was fantastic) so I can’t personally weigh in on any other scores. But what is clearly apparent is that critics are playing and reviewing the “best possible” version of the game.

This could be because critics have awesomely reliable, powerful and standard computers and connection. It could be a reluctance to penalize a game for technical faults without knowing for sure the problem is widespread and not specific to the review machine. Or it could be what most gamers on forums assume, some form of collusion with the game companies. Either direct or indirect to protect advertising dollars.

Critics also seem to look at every game in total isolation whereas users naturally compare it to predecessors. The first view makes sense as an objective measure of a product, the second is natural when one had to spend their own money for a game that feels like a tired rehash of a $60 game from a year ago.

This site has not yet reached a size where I have been offered bribes and I am ad-free so I can not speak to the prevalence of bribery in the industry. I can say I would struggle with those same critic vs. user perspective challenges, noting possible issues but scoring the best-case operation of the game.

Finally, it sadly seems that with the exception of Diablo 3 and COH2, every game would have scored well if it was released just a few months later or under different circumstances. Diablo 3 is the only game rated low because of a poor core game. Most were launch issues or egregious greed.

Notes:

I count 1 bad review per act of infidelity.
  • Football Manager Live should technically be on this list with a huge 51 point gap but it has so few reviews that the low score is all caused by 3 accounts who apparently were treated atrociously by the game’s mods but still enjoyed the game.
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 should be on the list with a 46 point gap however not one of the 20 negative reviews actually wrote anything. I can only surmise at the reason.
  • There were a surprisingly large number of games where critics and users matched scores exactly. The best was Witcher 3: Wild Hunt with 93 and 9.3 and the worst was Sniper: Art of Victory with a painful 36 and 3.6
  • All the data came from this Kaggle page. Kaggle is a pretty cool service that aggregates user’s data sets about a huge variety of topics and offers them freely.
  • I did not have time to draw a cartoon so I searched online for appropriate header artwork. After googling random terms I feel the need to congratulate Taher Shah for absolutely owning the “eye to eye” google image search term.
I played Eye to Eye in the background while figuring out who this guy is and now the melody is lodged in my brain like dust caught in my eye. To eye.

 

 

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I want good games to be discovered. Running this website seemed like the most direct way to do that.

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