Ever since he started using Twitter not too long ago, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada has participated in discussions with his audience fairly often. One of the topics he touched upon earlier in March was that of game reviews.
More specifically, he talked about his concerns regarding review scores. The quality of a game, writes reporting Japanese website Inside Games, is generally based off a metascore — an average score compiled from several reviews — here in the West. According to Inside Games, it is very common for a game with a low score to not sell well in the West. However, the post emphasizes the word “overseas,” implying that this is not always the case in Japan. Like Inside Games, Wada also seems to be curiously puzzled by this phenomenon, judging by the tone of his Twitter post:
It is hard to determine the value of a game. If the Metacritic score is lower than a certain level, then the game won’t sell. On the other hand, if the score is above a certain point, then the correlation between the sales and review score deteriorates. Also, the correlation decreases drastically for downloadable content. Thus, we can surmise that these scores can be used as a reference to see how much a retail store stocks. It looks like the player’s tastes don’t affect the numbers.
He then discusses the problem with normalizing the averages.
Even though I just said that evaluating a game is hard, it’s relatively easier to understand the individual numbers behind the averages. Scores are always given as weighted averages, which shrouds the important details.
There aren’t as many reviews in Japan because there are a comparatively limited number of media outlets that review games. What about user reviews, then? It seems these present their own problem, as Wada comments:
Maybe we should test the games out before we release… Kind of like how arcades hold location testing1. Re: @Cele505 – If the user himself doesn’t play the game, then he can’t know how good it is, but by the time he does know, the second-hand games are flowing around and the sales can’t be linked with the playing value of the game anymore. It’s quite a troubling problem.
In a separate series of tweets, Wada also posted the following comments regarding Famitsu magazine:
I think you need to read between the lines to utilize it optimally ^^ Like, “If this person writes in such a tone, then that means…” or something. Oh, I’ve said too much. Re: @Hirotaka_I – What do you think of Famitsu’s reviews?