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Capcom Wants new Devil May Cry to be Loved by Metacritic

As we have said here before, and said numerous times on the JTS podcast, PR pays attention to Metacritic. For some PR folks, it’s an absolute obsession. Take this announcement from Capcom as reported by CVG. The story itself isn’t about Metacritic, it’s rather about how DMC fans were all up in arms about new developer Ninja Theory apparently re-imaging Dante. That doesn’t interest me in the slightest. However, this quote does:

“Lets be honest they were great games (averaging in the low 80’s on Metacritic) but not perfect. We’re now aiming to make the perfect DMC game that gets 90’s.”

So, according to Capcom, if a website that hands out letter grades (1Up, GameShark, and others) gives the new DMC game a B+ well, that’s an ’83’ according to Metacritic and you can get bet your last nickel that Capcom will not be happy with an 83. If it gets a “B” — that’s a 75. And that simply will not do.

I may be alone in this but I find that to be a hell of a statement — basing your ‘perfection’ on an aggregate website that uses its own rating system which basically alters the scores of the sites it tracks, I find fascinating. Metacritic is a tool, and a very useful one, but I still don’t think a lot of people in PR know how it actually works.

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Bill Abner

Bill has been writing about games for the past 16 years for such outlets as Computer Games Magazine, GameSpy, The Escapist, GameShark, and Crispy Gamer. He will continue to do so until his wife tells him to get a real job.

7 thoughts to “Capcom Wants new Devil May Cry to be Loved by Metacritic”

  1. It’s not surprising with the weight the site is given, and not without merit. It’s certainly not impossible… but one does really need to wonder if they REALLY understand? For a high profile title that will receive many reviews… expecting a 90 or above is effectively saying it’s a game that the myriad of journalistic outlets from minor to major will unilaterally love your mediocre, derivative, sequelitis, action game? That’s being harsh, but REALLY? That seems likely to you? Ninja Theory has received an 82 (Enslaved), 79 (Heavenly Sword), and 68 (Chaos Kung Fu) and while they’ve certainly improved their scores…

    I’ll just say there are a lot of reasons to be content with the “B”.

  2. What Capcom fails to grasp is that the perfect Devil May Cry game has already been made – it was called God of War. Sorry, but Hair Metal turned Brit Rock Dante’s time has passed. Add that to the fact that Ninja Theory’s previous games are like DMC and GOW clones with interesting art direction though unfortunate controls, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a 75% Metacritic game.

    More to the point, I think video game reviewers should agree to collectively throw in the towel and adopt the Metacritic percentage standard. I know, it’s admitting a website has bullied you into submission, but at least your intent will be semi coherent. Granted, there will always be the philosophical differences about what a rating of 75% actually constitutes.

  3. I think they just come at it from the exact opposite end of the equation that you do. You see the review as an assessment of the quality of the product. But to them, a metacritic score is a marketing tool. Games that get 90′s on metacritic sell way more copies than games in the 70′s. Right or wrong, it’s generally true. So they work backwards from there. “What do we need to do to get in the 90′s on metacritic. Whatever we can do to make that happen, that’s what we want to do.” The fact that it’s a flawed system means nothing when the goal is sales, totally divorced from the quality of the game.

    The same thing happens in the classroom, where a student’s goal is to get a good grade, and what you learn is secondary to getting a good grade.

  4. I ain’t giving up. I’ll give a percentage rating, 1-10, or 10-100 rating when hell freezes over.

    What is the difference between a 75%/7.5 versus a 70%/7.5? No one can say, because it’s arbitrary and meaningless.

    Either a game is good, or it isn’t. Bottom line.

    I’d argue with you that Bayonetta is the perfect DMC game over GoW, but that’s another issue…

  5. Part of the problem with metacritic is with the sites that use the 100 point scale. One site will say a 50 is an average game. But most sites seem to think that a 70 is an average game and a 50 is a failed game. So while they use the same scale, the numbers mean totally different things.

  6. Ideally, reviewers that give video games scores would be a far cry from the most influential critics. They would be the equivalent of the KCBS radio guy who gets the random blurb on an ad for a movie. I mean in any other medium scoring is an indicator of pandering to a lowbrow audience. People magazine gives movies a score, not the New Yorker.

    Gamers want scores though. They want meaningless, arbitrary scores; they want pronouncements and proclamations. Is a score of a B somehow less confusing or stupid than a 7.5 or a 75? No, they’re all reductive and harmful towards the way consumers understand and evaluate a game. A score can never convey the nuance necessary to evaluate a crappy game that nonetheless is worth playing because it innovates in one very important way.

    That said, scores are a necessary evil for the time being. I think we may as well make some attempt to standardize the rubric, if only so that I don’t have to hear this, “I gave it a B, its not my fault that was translanted to a 70%” argument one more time.

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