Nowadays, instead of reading a full-fledged review, people tend to visit review aggregation websites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic to see what the general consensus is among critics. While the former website specializes in movie reviews, the latter specializes in video game reviews.
Metacritic determines scores by taking a weighted average of all the reviews aggregated on their website for a particular title. However, in doing so, they have received their fair share of criticism, primarily from video game critics, who believe Metacritic’s system inadequately converts their scores.
Perhaps that is why occasionally there are games that have high-scoring critic reviews, yet users rate the same games poorly. Everything — games, movies, even TV shows — have the possibility of producing dissension among critics and consumers; but it doesn’t happen often.
Still, it does happen… every now and then. Here are 15 Times Metacritic Video Game Scores Were Way Off.
One of Sony’s exclusive breakout games on the PlayStation 3 was releasing Media Molecule’s puzzle platformer, LittleBigPlanet. The game, which was originally titled The Next Big Thing, was truly the next big thing for PlayStation.
LittleBigPlanet received overwhelming critical acclaim when it released in 2008, garnering a Metacritic score of 95. Critics praised the game’s focus on gameplay rather than story, and some even went as far as to consider the game the beginning of a revolution in game development. While several gamers agreed with critics, there were many who didn’t. In fact, the thing critics loved the most — gameplay — was the thing many users hated, saying it was repetitive and boring, and that the overall quality felt like something that belonged on a previous generation console.
Sony later released the game as a free download, following the company’s infamous network outage in 2011, with the hopes of attracting consumers back to the platform. Looking back on the “Welcome Back” program, the company’s initiative appears to have worked.
14. Mass Effect 3
Other than Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, the Mass Effect series is BioWare’s most successful and critically acclaimed franchise. Despite the core Shepherd storyline concluding in 2012, BioWare has decided to continue the series with next year’s Mass Effect Andromeda, which will see a new character at the helm and be set in another galaxy.
While gamers are highly anticipating the new installment, they are also weary of the studio, for the last Mass Effect game left an unpleasant taste with longtime fans. After five years and three installments, the ending to the Mass Effect trilogy was poorly received by fans, which earned the game a user score of 5.5. On the other hand, critics lauded the game, giving it an outstanding score of 93.
Players felt that their decisions throughout all three installments had little to no effect on the ending of the game. The controversy caught the attention of several consumer agencies, including the Better Business Bureau, who sided with the fans. BioWare later formally apologized and released an extended cut of the game for free, expanding upon the ending but not replacing it.
Despite releasing in 2011, there are millions of people who still play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to this day. Critics and fans alike have called the game the perfect role-playing game, for the game deducts everything negative about previous Elder Scrolls games and only includes the very best aspects of those games. Plus, with a solid engine and an open-world people are still exploring, Skyrim is without a doubt one of the most successful RPGs out there.
Critics gave the game a well-deserved 94 Metacritic score while users gave it a rating of 8.1 — for the PC version. Even the Xbox 360 version of the game received high ratings. However, the PlayStation 3 port of the game had an overabundance of bugs and glitches that rendered the game unplayable for most, at least when it initially released in 2011. So, despite a fantastic story, expansive open-world, and excellent gameplay, the PS3 version got stuck with a user score of 6.4, which hasn’t improved much over the years.
Earlier this year, Blizzard took time away from developing a new expansion for their long-running World of Warcraft MMO and instead made Overwatch, a highly stylized shooter reminiscent of Team Fortress 2. Overwatch quickly became a hit among casual and hardcore players, with the game becoming an official eSports title.
Overwatch received overwhelming critical acclaim, which praised its graphics, characters, and gameplay, including a focus on both team and objective-based gameplay. It currently has an average critic score of 91 on Metacritic and is even nominated for several video game awards, including Game of the Year at this year’s Spike Video Game Awards.
Aside from positive criticism, Blizzard managed to amass a user base of over 20 million in only three months. That doesn’t mean the game doesn’t have its fair share of issues. Several fans (but not all) have called the game decent but not perfect and have frequently compared it to the aforementioned Team Fortress 2, which many people consider to be the better game of the two.
11. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
There is no denying that World of Warcraft is one of the most successful and defining video games of the modern era. It has captured the imagination (and wallets) of tens of millions of players since it released in 2004. Despite being well over a decade old, the game still holds a solid, unyielding fan base.
The reason millions of fans stick around is because of the expansion packs Blizzard releases every few years. It’s no surprise that there is always a bump in subscribers whenever there is a new expansion release, and one such expansion was World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, which released in December 2010.
Cataclysm was universally praised by critics, earning a Metacritic score of 90, whereas actual players didn’t take so kindly to the third expansion pack, giving the new content an average user score of 5.6. Why? The common reason behind most of the negative ratings is because, well, the new storyline was “boring,” and Blizzard’s revamp of the quests made it far “too easy.”
10. Dota 2
When the Warcraft III mod, Defense of the Ancients, gained immense popularity, Valve hired the pseudonymous game developer IceFrog to helm production on a sequel exclusively for Steam. Dota 2 released in 2013 to critical acclaim and commercial success. At one point, it became the most played game on Steam, which is saying a lot considering how many people use the service. Despite several eSports games having released since Dota 2, the game is still one of the most played in its genre.
Critics praised Dota 2 for remaining faithful to the original game, as well as for its revamped gameplay mechanics and competitive focus, which earned the title a Metacritic score of 90. However, as with every other game on this list, the actual player base didn’t look too kindly upon the sequel. They blasted the game for its shoddy servers and poor character balance, as well as the company’s general lack of communication with players. That is why it currently has a user scoroe of 6.2 on Metacritic.
9. Call of Duty
By now, everyone should have either heard about or played Call of Duty at one point or another. It’s one of the biggest franchises in history, and not just in video games but in entertainment in general. Its influence on the video game industry runs deep, with millions upon millions of people playing the games each year. However, its popularity doesn’t excuse Activision’s lack of innovation, which is part of the reason gamers have docked the franchise’s user score on Metacritic.
A quick look at the Call of Duty franchise’s Metacritic scores will yield impressive critic scores, frequently placing in the low 80s. However, with the exception of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, each installment in the franchise has received sub-par user scores. For instance, the latest installment, Infinite Warfare, has an average user score of 3.5, while the previous two games, Black Ops III and Advanced Warfare, have scores of 4.6 and 5.7, respectively. It doesn’t get any better the further back you go.
8. Diablo III
Blizzard Entertainment is known for taking time with their games, which is why fans of their Diablo franchise were immensely excited when the studio finally released Diablo III over a decade after the second installment’s release. Anticipation was so high that Diablo III became the fastest selling PC game at the time, selling over 3.5 million copies in 24 hours.
Unfortunately, the game, like many before and after it, was virtually unplayable. People around the world reported graphical issues with the game, as well as connectivity problems and poor balance. Aside from technical issues, many consumers complained about the always-online feature. Despite an 88 critic score, users rated the game a 4.0, and all of the aforementioned complaints landed Blizzard in hot water not only with consumers but also with the Federal Trade Commission.
With numerous updates and patches having been put out since the game’s initial release, it stands to reason that Blizzard has earned a better score for the game. But there is still no denying that Diablo III was a disaster at launch — and that is when perception (and, yes, even user scores) matters the most.
7. DmC: Devil May Cry
Capcom is known for producing many games, including the Devil May Cry franchise. In 2013, the famed publisher released the fifth installment in the series, which also acted as a reboot: DmC: Devil May Cry. In order to differentiate the game from previous installments, Capcom hired Ninja Theory to revamp the gameplay, making it feel similar but new and exciting, which they did. In fact, the reboot’s gameplay was one of the main highlights of the game.
Everything else about it though, especially its storyline, didn’t sit well with gamers, thus earning DmC: Devil May Cry a user score of 5.1. Although many critics agreed with players on the game having a lackluster storyline, they still gave the reboot a completely respectable score of 86, citing the new installment as being a worthy reboot of the franchise. Despite its flaws, virtually everyone agreed that the developers made Devil May Cry feel fresh and new, which is exactly what Capcom wanted in the first place.
6. Gone Home
While most of the games on this list are AAA titles (meaning they are made by major developers with large budgets and are published by publicly-owned companies), Gone Home is a rare case of being an indie game that attained positive critical reviews yet failed to strike big with users.
Set in 1995, Gone Home puts the player in the first-person point-of-view of the protagonist, Kaitlin. The purpose of the game is merely to explore Kaitlin’s house and discover new objects and messages. Aside from that, there is really no “point” to the story — or the game, which is why users rated it poorly, giving it a rating of 4.3.
The consensus among casual players was that the game was “boring” and had more in common with a simulator than a traditional game. And that is despite the game having a halfway decent story. Critics, on the other hand, fell in love with the title, praising its unconventional premise and giving the game an average score of 85.
5. Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Need for Speed may not be the greatest racing video game franchise out there, but it is certainly the most recognizable. With over 20 installments spanning over 20 years, in addition to one (commercially) successful theatrical adaptation starring Aaron Paul, it’s arguable that the franchise has stalled creatively, which is why Electronic Arts is taking their time with the next installment.
A few years ago, the publisher hired Criterion Games to develop a new Need for Speed title, and they came up with Need for Speed: Most Wanted, a reboot of sorts of the game of the same name from 2005. However, critics cited the game as being more of a spiritual successor to Criterion’s Burnout Paradise rather than a full reboot of Most Wanted.
Despite earning a decent Metacritic score of 84 on consoles, the game received mixed to negative user scores, averaging a 5.4 (4.4 on PC). Fans of previous Criterion games praised the game, while longtime Need for Speed fans criticized it for removing core franchise features. It also strayed away from the traditional street racing aspect of the game in favor of an open-world setting, which many gamers were opposed to.
4. Payday 2
As with every other industry, the gaming world has evolved over time. The thing is, many gamers aren’t satisfied with the way in which the industry has been evolving over the past few years, and Overkill’s Payday 2 is a testament to that discontent.
The game takes place two years after the events of Payday: The Heist, the first installment in the Payday series, and was an enormous commercial success. Its story and gameplay earned the game generally favorable reviews as well as a Metacritic score of 79. However, users saw the game — and, more importantly, the developers — in a different light. They didn’t have a problem with the story or gameplay, but rather the core aspect of the game itself.
Overkill Software’s implementation of microtransactions and the management of said microtransactions led to a great deal of controversy. Instead of directly addressing the issue, Overkill continued to escalate the situation with new DLC packs and microtransactions. Needless to say, the studio angered fans, which is why the game currently has a user score of 3.4.
3. Assassin’s Creed Unity
The long-running Assassin’s Creed franchise is Ubisoft’s most successful series ever, having sold well over 90 million copies since its inception in 2007. A theatrical adaptation of the series, titled Assassin’s Creed, starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Irons, will release later this month, marking the first venture of the studio’s newly formed Ubisoft Motion Pictures division.
However, while the franchise has seen at least one installment release every year since 2009, this year marks the first time there isn’t a new Assassin’s Creed game. There may not be a game next year, either. That is because Ubisoft is taking the time to re-examine the series and softly reboot it by straying away from annual installments.
This decision could have been brought on by the deplorable release of Assassin’s Creed Unity in 2014. Besides the inclusion of cooperative play, the game featured little to no innovation, and it’s game-breaking bugs rendered it virtually unplayable. All of this contributed to the game’s average user score of 3.0 on Metacritic. However, critics looked upon the release more favorably, giving it a score of 70.
2. Batman: Arkham Knight
The final installment in Rocksteady’s critically acclaimed Batman series, Batman: Arkham Knight, was generally well-received by critics and fans alike. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game received critic scores of 85 and 87, respectively, with user scores trailing not far behind, with 6.6 and 7.6, respectively. The PC version, however, differed greatly.
Critics gave the PC version of Arkham Knight an average 70 Metacritic score, while users gave the game a downright awful 2.5 rating. It’s not that they hated the story, or the gameplay, or even the graphics — how would they know if they weren’t able to play the game in the first place?
The PC port of the game was riddled with technical issues and glitches that rendered the game unplayable, so much so that WB Games had to suspend all sales of the game until Rocksteady could fix the port. Arkham Knight went back on sale later that year, but the damage was already done. Eventually, because of remaining issues, the studio offered refunds to whoever wanted them.
1. Every sports game ever
Sure, everyone goes wild for whatever new shooter, action-adventure, or role-playing game on the horizon, but the fact is, sports games are the backbone of the video game industry. Long before Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed somewhat perfected the annual installment formula, sports franchises from EA Sports and 2K Sports — covering the NBA, NHL, MLB, FIFA, and more — were already releasing new iterations every year like clockwork, and it doesn’t look like they’re stopping anytime soon.
In addition to featuring up-to-date team lineups, each installment brings something new to the field, whether it be a new graphical engine, new gameplay mechanics, or new tournament modes, among other things. These things tend to score big with critics, earning the games Metacritic scores over 80 with remarkable consistency. However, the actual players tend to rate the games below a 6.0, and typically somewhere in the 3s and 4s. The reasons behind the low user scores vary drastically, but it always has something to do with the gameplay — that’s one thing they all agree on.
What other video games is Metacritic completely off base on? Do you feel that the user score system is overly harsh? Sound off in the comments.