How I Use Metacritic to Inform My Gaming Purchases


Metacritic as a service is viewed as divisive among gaming enthusiasts. On one hand, it’s the major site that gives you an easy-to-find aggregate of numerous major gaming reviews for one game in one place. On the other hand, critics hate how it marginalizes full reviews into a number, its methods for aggregating reviews, and the significance certain entities place on the final Metacritic score.

My stance on Metacritic is a bit from column A, and a bit from column B, but I do oftentimes refer to Metacritic to inform my gaming purchases. I’m sure everyone has a way of interpreting the data, though I thought I’d share how I use it.

My general philosophy

I like to buy good games, and not buy bad games. When retail games regularly go for $60 a pop, it’s hard to justify paying that much for a game that sucks. Nowadays, with so many great titles to choose from, it can be hard to even justify paying full price for a decent game. With that said, my quality tolerance will lower as the price goes down. I don’t always follow this system to the letter every time, but I use this as a general guideline for my purchases.

90+ Metacritic score

If a game I’m interested in scores 90 and above, I’ll buy it at launch. I’ll read through some of the reviews from reviewers I trust to see what they thought in detail. If a game I wasn’t interested in for whatever reason scores 90 and above, I may investigate it further, or pick it up, even if it is out of my comfort zone. As someone who likes to be as well-versed in many aspects of gaming, I’ll go out of my traditional boundaries to try the best-of-the-best from elsewhere to see what the hype is about, and to see if I’ve been missing out. The best example of a Metacritic score leading me towards a game that was out of my comfort zone was the original Mass Effect. I’m glad that I did make a reach to give it a try, because that series became one of my all-time favourites.

80-89 Metacritic score

If a game I’m interested in scores 80 to 89, I’ll buy it at launch. I’ll read through some of the reviews from reviewers I trust to see what they thought in detail. If a game I wasn’t interested in for whatever reason scores 80 and above, I may investigate it further, or pick it up when the price goes down, even if it is out of my comfort zone.

70-79 Metacritic score

While a score in the 70s is technically still good, here’s where some flags start to go up in my head. For games I’m interested in, I will read the reviews in more detail to see what the criticisms are. At this point, I may still pick it up at full price because my interest in the title overrides any of the issues brought up by reviewers (such as Skullgirls).Or, I may wait till it comes down in price. For games I’m not interested in, I may still buy purchase them when they hit the bottom of the clearance bin and I’m short on titles to play.

60-69 Metacritic score

At this point, I have a lot of flags in my head about a game that scores between 60-69. If it’s a game I’m genuinely interested in, I’ll read the reviews in detail to see what the criticisms are. If it still sounds like something I want to play, I’ll pick it up when it’s really cheap. If not, I’ll pass on it completely. For games I don’t have an interest in, I’ll pass on them, regardless of price.

59 and below Metacritic score

I will generally avoid buying any game below 60, regardless of my interest. Looking at my shelves, the only game I have that has scored this low is FaceBreaker, which I bought for $3. Even then, it’s still unopened, and I may never play it. It probably serves it’s purpose just fine as something ironically funny to have on my shelf.

How do you use Metacritic?

One thought on “How I Use Metacritic to Inform My Gaming Purchases

  1. jsicktheslick November 29, 2012 / 6:17 PM

    Very nice write up. I do like how you repeated one key action throughout your discussion: you read the reviews. I think that’s the biggest fault with Metacritic: it’s too easy and simple to look at a score and make a judgment without reading about the pros and cons.

    But I digress. I usually use metacritic to generally see what others thought if a game. In particular, I like to see if another reviewer happened to experience the same scene with as much excitement as I did. Or perhaps to see if someone else also hot a snag here or there. 🙂
    And lastly… Release dates. New and old, I like knowing when a game came out.

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