|Slogan||Keeping score of Entertainment.|
|Type of site||Review aggregator|
|Alexa rank||1,761 (December 2013[update])|
Metacritic is a website that aggregates reviews of music albums, games, movies, TV shows, DVDs, and formerly, books. For each product, a numerical score from each review is obtained and the total is averaged. It was created and founded by Jason Dietz, Marc Doyle, and Julie Doyle Roberts. An excerpt of each review is provided along with a hyperlink to the source. Three colour codes of Green, Yellow and Red summarize the critic's recommendation. This gives an idea of the general appeal of the product among reviewers and, to a lesser extent, the public.
The site is somewhat similar to Rotten Tomatoes, but the scoring results sometimes differ very drastically, due to Metacritic's method of scoring that converts each review into a percentage that the site decides for itself, before taking a weighted average based on the critic's fame or stature, and listing different numbers of reviews. Also, Rotten Tomatoes only reviews movies & TV shows, while Metacritic reviews music albums, video games, movies, DVDs, and TV shows.
Many review websites give a review grade out of five, out of ten, out of a hundred, or even an alphabetical score. Metacritic converts such a grade into a percentage. For reviews with no explicit scores (for example, The New York Times reviews), Metacritic manually assesses the tone of the review before assigning a relevant grade. Weighting is also applied to reviews—those from major periodicals may have a greater effect on the average than niche ones, although Metacritic refuses to reveal what weights are applied to which publications.
Metacritic was launched in January 2001 by Marc Doyle, along with his sister Julie Doyle Roberts and a classmate from the University of Southern California law school, Jason Dietz. Rotten Tomatoes was already compiling movie reviews at the time, but Doyle, Roberts, and Dietz "saw an opportunity to cover a broader range of media". They sold Metacritic to CNET in 2005. CNET and Metacritic are owned by the CBS Corporation.
Nick Wingfield of The Wall Street Journal wrote in September 2007, "Mr. Doyle, 36, is now a senior product manager at CNET but he also acts as games editor of Metacritic". Speaking of video games, Doyle said, "A site like ours helps people cut through...unobjective promotional language". He also said "By giving consumers, and web users specifically, early information on the objective quality of a game, not only are they more educated about their choices, but it forces publishers to demand more from their developers, license owners to demand more from their licensees, and eventually, hopefully, the games get better". Doyle said, "I don't want to overstate our role in this area, but we're highlighting the review process", which he thinks was not taken as seriously when unconnected magazines and websites were providing their reviews in isolation.
Metacritic's scores ("Metascores") are weighted averages—certain publications are given more significance "based simply because of their stature".
Metacritic Games Editor Marc Doyle was interviewed by Keith Stuart of The Guardian to "get a look behind the metascoring process". Stuart wrote "the metascore phenomenon, namely Metacritic and GameRankings, have become an enormously important element of online games journalism over the past few years". Doyle said that because video games are a greater investment of time and money than other forms of entertainment, gamers are much more informed about reviews than film fans or music fans. They would like to know "whether that hotly anticipated title is going to deliver."
The ranging metascores for games, films, television programs and music are:
|Mixed or average||50–74||40–60|
Criticism of game metascores
Many video game reviewers take issue with the way Metacritic assigns scores. When a game reviewer gives a video game a rating of "A", Metacritic assigns it a value of 100. When a reviewer gives a game a rating of "F", Metacritic assigns it a value of 0—although some reviewers think a score of 50 is more appropriate. When a reviewer gives a game a rating of "B-", Metacritic assigns it a value of 67—and many publishers, developers, and websurfers think that the score should be closer to 80. A former editor at the review site Game Revolution, Joe Dodson, criticized Metacritic and similar sites, saying their conversion system was turning their reviews into scores that were too low. Doyle said "I feel that ANY scale simply needs to converted directly with its lowest possible grade equating to 0, and the highest to 100." 
Doyle said some publishers want him to include certain critics that Metacritic does not track and some want certain critics excluded, usually because they give a game a poor review. Another common complaint from publishers is that British critics should not be reviewing games that are based on American sports like the NFL, NASCAR, or the NBA. Doyle said, "Conversely, many European publishers feel that American critics are not qualified or properly situated to review football, rally, F1, cricket and rugby games". Doyle said, "once I've decided to track a publication, I cannot pick and choose which reviews I list on Metacritic based on such individual judgments".
Publishers often try to persuade Doyle to exclude reviews they feel are unfair, but Doyle said that after a publication has been included in the system, he refuses to omit any reviews that receive complaints.
Influence of game metascores
Nick Wingfield of The Wall Street Journal has written that Metacritic "influence[s] the sales of games and the stocks of videogame publishers", citing as example "One company [which] requires game publishers to pay higher royalties if they receive low scores on such sites". Wingfield explains the influence of the website as coming from the higher cost to consumers of buying video games than for buying music or movie tickets. Many executives say that low scores "can hurt the long-term sales potential" of game franchises. Wingfield wrote that Wall Street is paying attention to Metacritic and Game Rankings because the sites typically post scores before any sales data are publicly available, citing the rapid rise and fall in value, respectively, of the relevant game companies following the release of BioShock and Spider-Man 3.
In an interview with The Guardian, Marc Doyle cited, "two major publishers" which "conducted comprehensive statistical surveys through which they've been able to draw a correlation between high metascores and stronger sales" in certain genres. Doyle further claimed that an increasing number of businesses and financial analysts use Metacritic as "an early indicator of a game's potential sales and, by extension, the publisher's stock price."
In 2004, Jason Hall of Warner Bros. began "including 'quality metrics' in the contracts the studio signed with partners interested in licensing Warner movies for games". If a product does not receive specific scores or better from aggregator sites like Metacritic, some deals require game publishers to pay higher royalties to Warner Bros.
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