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Forums - Gaming Discussion - On a ten point review scale, what number should represent an average game?


What number should represent average on a ten point scale?

3 0 0%
4 2 1.63%
5 58 47.15%
6 38 30.89%
7 24 19.51%
8 1 0.81%

On a ten point review scale, what number do you think should represent an average game? 

I'm one of the people that thinks 7/10 should be average. I have a few arguments for this...

1. If you go on Metacritic and click on a publication's profile you can see the mathematical average of all review scores put out by that publication. You'll almost always see numbers hovering around the 6.5 to 7.5 range for just about any video game publication on the site. Even sites like Destructoid that go out of their way to say that "average starts at 5" have their average review score listed around the 6.5 to 7.5 range. Even if they officially say that average should be at 5, in practice they agree that it is 7. 

Now someone might want to counter this argument by saying that there are two meanings of the word average. There's mathematical average, and then there's average as in Okay, Decent, Middle of the Road. But the secondary meaning of average given here is colloquial, and has it's roots in an uneducated understanding of the mathematical term. In the same way that the dictionary now defines "bite" as a wound caused by creature's mouth or stinger, the dictionary now defines average as a synonym for Okay, Decent, etc. Using the colloquial definition of a term is unprofessional, and professional reviewers shouldn't do it, in this case. 

2. Using 5 to represent average, turns your site's reviews into a liability for the metacritic average. For example let's say that insists that 5/10 is average, because it is a nice middle number. He then proceeds to give two games that he considers to be good scores of 6/10. But the vast majority of reviewers on metacritic are using the "7/10 means average" rule. Even though he really liked both games he winds up being listed as the "most critical" review on Metacritic, and just by posting his review, the metascore drops a few points. I call this the "5/10 means average" kiss of death. 

3. Average is not always the middle number out of a range of numbers. For example; the heaviest person to ever live was 975 lbs. One of the lightest people to ever live weighed 32 lbs. So should we find the exact middle number between these two extremes, and call that average? Nobody in their right mind would call 503 lbs an average human bodyweight, whether using the literal meaning of the word, or the colloquial meaning. But that's the middle number between 32, and 975. 

So I don't think it makes sense to say that "5 is the middle number between 1 and 10, therefore 5 should be used as average". 

But at the same time I also kind of see the arguments in favor of some number other than 7 being average. Here's what I've heard in favor of this...

1. Youtuber Arlo does his reviews on a 7 point scale. This is because he doesn't think a game needs any more descriptors than very bad, bad, average, good, great, excellent, and GOTY! I agree with this, and I think his 7 point scale is way better than the 10 point scale the industry currently uses. But 3/7 = 42/100 on metacritic's scale! And that throws a wrench into my 7/10 should be average position. 

2. A lot of sites use a 5 star system, like movie reviewers with no room for half points. Games that are just okay wind up getting 3/5 stars under this system, which makes a lot of sense to me. I mean, on a scale with no room for half a star, three stars very much conveys "average". But that would put 6/10 as the average! Nooooooooooo! 

So anyway, what score do you think an average game should get? 


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5/10. Unlike weight, this is a pre-defined range of 0% to 100%. 5/10 is 50%. Now, the question is what an average game is. Average in terms of AAA games, or average out of every single game? Considering all of the shovelware it makes sense that an average AAA game would be 7/10.

a "avg" game sucks..... usually its the "good" ones at 75+ that count, or the "greats" at 90+.

VGPolyglot said:
5/10. Unlike weight, this is a pre-defined range of 0% to 100%. 5/10 is 50%. Now, the question is what an average game is. Average in terms of AAA games, or average out of every single game? Considering all of the shovelware it makes sense that an average AAA game would be 7/10.

If we were to say average out of all games I would agree at 5/10. Average out of AAA games (or any game where the developer is genuinely trying to make something worthwhile) I would say 7/10. 

But I don't really see any review sites doing reviews of shovelware. I mean when's the last time you saw IGN do a review of a blatant steam asset flip? Most hardcore gamers can spot shovelware a mile away. I mean can you imagine the head editor of IGN saying "Let's review this shovelware title, because I'm sure our readers want to know whether it is worth buying or not."

JRPGfan said: 
a "avg" game sucks..... usually its the "good" ones at 75+ that count, or the "greats" at 90+.

Yep. I won't even touch a game if it doesn't get at least 77 on my custom Opencritic settings. Considering that No Man's Sky got 72 on metacritic, and that game was a joke, it makes perfect sense to stay miles from any game coming close to that sort of Metascore. But then again, I think it makes sense to not even bother with Metacritic, since Opencritic is miles better. 

Last edited by Cerebralbore101 - on 07 January 2018

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I think game reviewers are a bit too soft when they give scores. 7 should be the average score for a decent game (instead of 8, which is the score that games like CoD are getting right now). When we count all games, however, the average should probably be like a 1 or 2.

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"Average" is often considered to have the same absolute value as "bad". Most consumers will skip "average". This means that there is often a perception adjustment where publications don't want to place a game into the expanded "bad" range. That leads to a certain amount of inflation.

The whole structure, besides being entirely relative, is about as trustworthy as a feral ghoul. Because of other factors like publisher influence and terrible behavior from fans, I have very little overall faith in the honesty of the numbers we're handed.

As always, the words in a review are far more meaningful and important.

5 should be the average.

1. Your argument ignores that a large number of bad games are skipped altogether. Due to the large number of game releases nowadays, only the more interesting games get reviewed. The exclusion of obvious stinkers pushes the average score of reviewed games above what the average score would be if all games got reviewed without exceptions.

2. If you put fitting in with Metacritic above being of service to your readers, then you have already fundamentally failed as a reviewer.

3. That's just stupid. A scale of 0-10 has a clearly defined floor and ceiling as opposed to the weight of humans.

The big flaw of using 7/10 as an average on a 10-point-scale is that it becomes hard to make distinctions between just above average games, good games, great games and all-time greats. Additionally, a large portion of the scale remains unused. The thinking that 7/10 should be used as the average is why it's hard to trust scores of 8/10; it might just be an average game that the reviewer liked something about, but now it has been elevated in the range where only good games should score. Conversely, you can have an anticipated game from an established IP that the reviewer was slightly disappointed with and it gets an 8/10 all the same.

Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club

From 0 to 10, the middle number, 5, should be given for an average game. But, for this kind of thing to work, all games must be judged on the same scale. In other words, if crappy indy games can get a 5, then even a terrible AAA blockbuster will have to get a 9 or 10. So, we can't have any more of the "its good for what it is, so its gets a 7".


Chinese food for breakfast


5 instead of 7.5

duduspace11 "Well, since we are estimating costs, Pokemon Red/Blue did cost Nintendo about $50m to make back in 1996"

Mr Puggsly: "Hehe, I said good profit. You said big profit. Frankly, not losing money is what I meant by good. Don't get hung up on semantics"