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More Metacritic Madness

You likely already saw this story as it’s roughly a day old at this point but as I have been a little out of the News Loop the past week or so I just stumbled upon it today.

Seems that Irrational Games, the brilliant developer of games we all know and mostly love, is looking for Design Manager. Nothing odd about that.

The requirements all look somewhat standard: 6+ years as a game designer in the video game industry; 4+ years of experience managing direct reports; Shipped a minimum of 3 game titles from pre-production through ship; Proven knowledge of game design, theory and execution; A strong passion for and experience with First Person Shooters; Credit on at least one game with an 85+ Average Meta Critic Review Score.

Wait, what?

Now, I have no idea if there’s wiggle room here or not and I am curious if they meant to place that last line in the “pluses” category and not the “requirements” but you are seriously telling me that if you apply for this job at Irrational and you headed up the team on a game like Metro 2033, you’re out of luck — don’t even bother? But Max Payne 3 is on your resume? Sold!

I don’t want to be too hard on Irrational, the company makes wonderful products, but come on guys, what a ridiculous criteria for landing a job. A negative review from Tom Chick at Qt3 that drops a game to an 84 score could cost someone from working at Irrational?

See what you’ve done, Tom!? I hope you’re happy!

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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.

13 thoughts to “More Metacritic Madness”

  1. Yeah…we’re done here.

    The Secret World, glitchy as it may be, is offering a completely different MMO experience than others I’ve played.

    Tom Chick made the perfectly reasonable (I paraphrase) statement, “I love what this game is trying to be, but some quests are busted at launch.” Something one could have said of vanilla WoW.

    His review numerically? 40. TSW is at 70-something now. I know there are people who deliberately review comic book movies poorly, hoping to drive the Metascore down. (No, I don’t have “Watergate” proof, but when an indie movie critic begins an Avengers review by suggesting that superhero movies are played out…why did you GO to that movie?)

    This is what Facebook, upvoting, and crowd-sourcing gets you in the end. Without a way to filter the stupid or irrelevant out, Metacritic is just turning all entertainment into a popularity contest.

  2. I think of all the game developers and their families that are destitute and living on the streets because of Tom Chick’s reviews and it just makes me sick. I mean, sometimes his reviews are only four paragraphs. Won’t somebody think of the children.

    Anyway, this is yet another example of how fucking idiotic the games-making business has become, and it’s a shame to see a creative company with a really damn good track record doing something so ridiculous. Hate to tell you Ken and co., the really forward-thinking, progressive, and creative games aren’t always getting 85+ on Metacritic. I’ve often joked that you get to the REALLY good games once you get into the low 80s.

    This shit is seriously like telling someone that they’re not hired because they don’t have enough “likes” on Facebook.

    1. Okay calm down folks. This is job posting. I’m looking for jobs right now and they can have some weird and vague and ridiculous stuff on them. Besides, you don’t always fit all the requirements. I mean if you have 6-10 years of experience and have brought out some quality titles, but you just happen to not have that metacritic score, when you go in for an interview, you think they just up and show you the door? There’s still a people element in all this. And somebody that has that much experience may already have quite a reputation preceding them. This is a job posting, not a contract, where use of the metacritic score for bonuses is a bigger problem.
      I agree it needs to stop. But a job posting is also evaluated by the talent to see if their values line up with those of a company. So when this becomes an impractical and highly disputed measure, it will fade. If this is a serious consideration, you may very well scare off the actual talent you’re trying to find.

      1. You don’t think it’s possible that there are certain executives that are so bass ackwards that they wouldn’t say that, and mean it?

        Consider the unemployment rate, as well as other studio closings. Just one recent closing (38 Studios) in the same area (Boston) as Irrational left over 300 developers without jobs. They can sit there, firm on that ground, and wait for a candidate that fits that spec. There will be several out there.

        Now I certainly see that as being silly. They may very well pass up on the best candidate(s) for the job based on one stupid metric. They won’t know that though, since they will have more than enough interviews and such anyhow.

        Personal experience tells me that companies can stick to stupid requirements and pass on great candidates right now. I’ve been there. Last year on the job hunt I got passed over for seemingly pointless reasons despite 7 years of experience, and a portfolio to match.

        This stuff is toxic, and as much as I want to acknowledge Metacritic isn’t the problem, I have a hard time defending that position. Metacritic is a tool, and like all such things it is only as good as the people using it. Problem is that the people using it are morons. For me I used to fin it useful, get the temperature of the room so to speak. Then I look at the edge cases. If it mostly reviews well, but has some very negative reviews, check them out. See why they got dinged so badly. Negative reviews are often more informative.

        Once I see what knocks the game gets, I can evaluate that based on what does, and does not bother me. Using it like that can be very helpful. Being able to see what works and doesn’t is helpful. Being able to quickly browse for reviews that align with your tastes is helpful.

        Using that one number as the end all, be all, is lunacy. Would I rather play any CoD game (or most any military shooter for that matter) over any Paradox game, or Mirror’s Edge? No friggin way. Yet one series gets consistently higher scores than the games I’d rather play. Yet if a company designing a first person game were to hire based on Metacritic averages then someone from CoD:MW would get the nod over someone from Mirror’s Edge, even if the game in question involved heavy movement based gameplay.

        Ok enough rant. I’m just sick of people using Metacritic as some form objective measurement of quality.

        1. Apparently, it IS a semi-objective predictor of SALES. Quality is not an issue here.

          I know The Barnes was being facetious when he grumbled about Tom Chick snatching foods out of developers’ mouths. I’d agree that we shouldn’t be holding Metacritic or Tom Chick responsible for this.

          And yet, Tom Chick has shortened the subscription lifespan of TSW. It will become F2P faster because of his review. Other sales douches will receive the message loud and clear: don’t try to be cute with MMOs. Just sell those hats and horse armors and focus on the grinding.

          There has to be another metric derivable from Metacritic. The only thing I can think of is some kind of “tiered profitability” model: X million in development + Y Metascore = profitable. Not just “85 or get out”. Right now, games need a Sundance. Right now, it’s either AAA, PSN exclusives, or made in somebody’s house. We need more dev levels in between those.

  3. Only three comments on this article so far? Looks like Bill shouldn’t be at NHS! I believe a minimum of 10 comments per article within one hour of posting should be required. Obviously, that’s the only way to ensure real quality.

  4. Why don’t we just skip the middle step and have Metacritic start aggregating performance reviews for human beings?

    “Though a valuable addition to the team, Mr. Thrower’s refusal to participate in the weekly podcast for his website due to “time constraints” demonstrates there are limits to his work ethic, and brings him up short of a perfect score. 4/5 stars.”

    Sorry Matt, but your day job clearly states that annual cost of living increases require Metacritic averages of 85% or higher. Better luck next year!

    1. It’s horrific, but somehow that rings with potential authenticity, like a mid 20th century science fiction short story. Sends a shiver down my spine.

      Please don’t let it come to that

    2. I’d say your view is too narrow! Metacritic reviews for your life, period. Your friends and family could post reviews and scores for you as a person, which would then be aggregated. Your job opportunities, relationship outlooks, and lifespan could all be determined by this value.

      Have an 85% rating or higher? Live to be 94 with your faculties intact, have a beautiful wife, and a great-paying career that lets you enjoy your life. But then your jerk teenage son goes on and gives you a review of 1 star out of 5… your score drops, you lose your job, your car, the nice house, the pretty wife. At which point you review yourself, give yourself a 2/5 (low self-esteem after other bad reviews) and things just get worse.

      Then, if you’re lucky, some kind soul decides to try out this poor 62% person and you get a new relationship. But wait, you’re not so bad after all. They give you a review of 5/5. They introduce you to their friends and family, who post new reviews — 4s and 5s all over the place. Your rating starts to go back up. Suddenly you’re at 87% and life is roses and champagne. You don’t need this new wife, you can get the old one back! So you give the new wife a review of 2/5 and the cycle begins once more.

      This brief look into the critical post-apocalyptic wasteland we all are moving into has been brought to you by Cynicism… try it!

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