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Metacritic logo.png
Web address
Commercial? Yes
Type of site
Review aggregator
Registration Free/subscription
Owner CBS Interactive (CBS Corporation)
Launched January 1999; 23 years ago (1999-01)
Alexa rank
Increase 1,505 (May 2015)[1]
Current status Online

Metacritic is a commercial 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 color codes of Green, Yellow and Red summarize the critic's recommendation, giving an idea of the general appeal of the product among reviewers and, to a lesser extent, the public. It is regarded as the video game industry's foremost review aggregator.[2][3]

Metacritic's method of scoring 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. Although Metacritic refuses to reveal the weights applied to each critic, the weights are easy to calculate using linear algebra, providing insight into the site's subjective rating of different critics. 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.


Metacritic was launched in January 1999 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.[4] CNET and Metacritic are owned by the CBS Corporation.[5]

Nick Wingfield of The Wall Street Journal wrote in September 2004, "Mr. Doyle, 36, is now a senior product manager at CNET but he also acts as games editor of Metacritic".[4] 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.[6]

In August 2010, Metacritic website's appearance was heavily revamped. The reaction to the new format from existing Metacritic users was overwhelmingly negative.[7][8]


Metacritic's scores ("Metascores") are weighted averages—certain publications are given more significance "based simply because of their stature".[4]

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".[6] 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."[6]

The ranging metascores for games, films, television programs and music are:[9]

Indication Video games Films/television/music
Universal acclaim 90–100 81–100
Generally favorable 75–89 61–80
Mixed or average 50–74 40–60
Generally unfavorable 20–49 20–39
Overwhelming dislike 0–19 0–19

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.[4] When a reviewer gives a game a rating of "B-", Metacritic assigns it a value of 67—and many publishers, developers, and websurfers believe that the score should be closer to 80, instead of using the same linear scale as other scoring conversions.[6] 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.[4] Doyle said "I feel that ANY scale simply needs to be converted directly with its lowest possible grade equating to 0, and the highest to 100."[6]

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 US 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".[6]

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.[4]

The Xentax Foundation analyzed the games related data at Metacritic and published their findings in a 30-page comprehensive paper on January 19, 2014.[10] One of the conclusions of the author, Mike Zuurman, was "The data at Metacritic leaves much to be desired and seems to be heavily biased", while calling the validity and the accuracy of the data "low".

As a result of the perceived negative influence of Metacritic on the way the video game industry works, several game reviewing sites, including Kotaku[11] and Eurogamer[12] have dropped numerical reviews that would appear in Metacritic, instead favoring a text-based assessment of a game.

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 video game 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.[4] Many executives say that low scores "can hurt the long-term sales potential" of game franchises.[4] 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.[4]

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.[6] 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."[6]

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.[4]

In 2008, Microsoft began using Metacritic review averages to de-list underperforming Xbox Live Arcade games.[13][14]

Further criticism of the website

Under recent years, Metacritic has been the subject of criticism due to how the website currently handles the banning of users and users' reviews - with no notices or proper appeals for the affected.[15][16] Critics and developers alike have pointed out the website's lack of personnel management along with the automatic systems since video-games can be "bombed" with 0/10 ratings under just one night, severely damaging the reputation of a video-game title. Signal Studios president and creative director Douglas Robert Albright III has described the website as having "no standards".[17]

Game ranking

This is the top 10 games with best metascore in the site (up to December 2014) [18] with ties in score decided by user ranking.

# Game Released Publisher(s) Platform(s) Metascore Sales
1 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 1998 Nintendo Nintendo 64, GameCube 99 7.6M
2 SoulCalibur 1999 Namco Arcade, Dreamcast, iOS, Android, Xbox Live 98 1.3M
3 Grand Theft Auto IV 2008 Rockstar Games PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC 98 25M
4 Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 2000 Activision PlayStation, PC, Game Boy Color, Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, Xbox 98 6.6M
5 Perfect Dark 2000 Nintendo Nintendo 64 97 2.5M
6 Metroid Prime 2002 Nintendo GameCube, Wii 97 2.8M
7 Super Mario Galaxy 2 2010 Nintendo Wii 97 7.41M
8 Super Mario Galaxy 2007 Nintendo Wii 97 12.5M
9 Halo: Combat Evolved 2001 Microsoft Studios Xbox, PC 97 8.6M
10 Grand Theft Auto III 2001 Rockstar Games PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC, PlayStation 3, iOS, Android 97 13.1M

Best game per year

This a list of the games with best metascore per year (since 1995).[19]

Year Game Publisher(s) Platform(s) Metascore Units sold
1995 Command & Conquer Virgin Interactive PC, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, PlayStation Network 94 n/a
1996 Super Mario 64 Nintendo Nintendo 64 94 11.62M
1997 GoldenEye 007 Nintendo Nintendo 64 96 8.1M
1998 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo Nintendo 64, GameCube 99 7.6M
1999 SoulCalibur Namco Arcade, Dreamcast, Xbox Live, iOS, Android 98 1.3M
2000 Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 Activision PlayStation, PC, Game Boy Color, Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, Xbox 98 6.6M
2001 Halo: Combat Evolved Microsoft Xbox, PC 97 5M
2002 Metroid Prime Nintendo GameCube, Wii 97 2.8M
2003 The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Nintendo GameCube, Wii U 96 4.6M
2004 Half-Life 2 Valve Corporation PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 96 12M
2005 Resident Evil 4 Capcom GameCube, PlayStation 2, PC, Wii, iOS, Zeebo, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 96 7.5M
2006 The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Nintendo Wii, GameCube 96 8.5M
2007 Super Mario Galaxy Nintendo Wii 97 12.5M
2008 Grand Theft Auto IV Rockstar Games PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC 98 25M
2009 Uncharted 2: Among Thieves SCEA PlayStation 3 96 6.3M
2010 Super Mario Galaxy 2 Nintendo Wii 97 7.41M
2011 Batman: Arkham City WBIE PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U 96 6M
2012 The Walking Dead Telltale Games PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, iOS, Android, Fire OS, Ouya 94 8.5M
2013 Grand Theft Auto V Rockstar Games PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC 97 54M
2014 Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Nintendo Wii U 92 3.83M
2015 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Konami PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC 95 5M

Best exclusive per platform

This list shows the best exclusive game of each platform on Metacritic.[20]

Platform Game Released Publisher(s) Metascore Units sold
PC Half-Life 2 2004 Valve 96 n/a
Nintendo 64 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 1998 Nintendo 99 7.6M
PlayStation Gran Turismo 1990 Sony Computer Entertainment 96 10.85M
Dreamcast SoulCalibur 1999 Namco 98 1.3M
GameCube Metroid Prime 2002 Nintendo 97 2.8M
PlayStation 2 Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec 2001 Sony Computer Entertainment 95 14.89M
Xbox Halo: Combat Evolved 2001 Bungie 97 5.0M
Game Boy Advance Mario Kart: Super Circuit 2001 Nintendo 93 5.5M
Nintendo DS Mario Kart DS 2005 Nintendo 91 22.8M
PlayStation Portable God of War: Chains of Olympus 2008 SCEA 91 3.1M
Wii Super Mario Galaxy 2 2010 Nintendo 97 7.41M
Xbox 360 Grand Theft Auto V 2013 Rockstar Games 98 25M
PlayStation 3 Uncharted 2: Among Thieves 2009 SCEA 96 6.3M
Nintendo 3DS Fire Emblem: Awakening¹ 2012 Nintendo 92 1.79M
PlayStation Vita LittleBigPlanet PS Vita² 2012 SCEA 88 n/a
Wii U Super Mario 3D World 2013 Nintendo 93 4.3M
PlayStation 4 Bloodborne³ 2015 SCEA 92 1M
Xbox One Forza Motorsport 6 2015 Microsoft Studios 87 n/a

Critic weights

Metacritic stated that it will not reveal the relative weight assigned to each reviewer.[21]

See also


  1. " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved May 8, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Nick Wingfield (2007-09-20). "High Scores Matter To Game Makers, Too". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-02-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Columbia Journalism Review - CJR's guide to what the major media companies own". Retrieved 2011-11-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 Keith Stuart (2008-01-17). "Interview: the science and art of Metacritic". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-02-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Give Us Your Feedback! - Metacritic". Retrieved 2011-10-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Welcome to the New Metacritic - Metacritic". Retrieved 2011-10-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "How We Create the Metascore Magic". Metacritic. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 2012-05-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Metacritic: Quantify Me" (PDF). 2014-01-19. Retrieved 2014-02-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Tolito, Stephan (2012-01-30). "How We Will Review Games". Kotaku. Retrieved 2015-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Welsh, Oli (2015-02-10). "Eurogamer has dropped review scores". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2015-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Chris Remo (2008-05-22). "Microsoft To Delist Low-Ranking XBLA Titles, Raise Size Limit". GamaSutra. Retrieved 2008-05-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Joe Keiser (2008-05-22). "EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: MS to Delist XBLA Titles". Next Generation. Retrieved 2008-05-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  15. "Metacritic Bans "Bombing" Users - Bans several users only after a request by developers". Retrieved 2011-09-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Publicly available BBB complaints - Describes as a majority to have issues with CBS refusing contact". Retrieved 2014-03-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Metacritic criticized by company president - Exclaims site without standards". Retrieved 2011-09-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Game Releases by Score (All Time)
  19. Game Releases by Score (By year)
  20. Legacy Platform releases
  21. "Frequently Asked Questions - Metacritic". Retrieved 2015-07-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links