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How Many Studios Get Bonuses For Hitting Metacritic Goals?

Well, isn't this interesting.

Analysts always say that higher-rated games tend to sell better and of course, that's definitely true. So maybe this news shouldn't come as any big shock...just like we probably shouldn't be surprised that NFL teams often put "bounties" on opposing players.

Anyway, it seems Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian Entertainment - which recently suffered a round of layoffs and the cancellation of a future project - was in line to receive an unspecified bonus if New Vegas had scored higher on Metacritic. One point higher, to be exact. Obsidian co-founder Chris Avellone Tweeted the following:

"FNV was a straight payment, no royalties, only a bonus if we got an 85+ on Metacritic, which we didn't."

No, but you came close; the game is averaging an 84 on Metacritic. The PlayStation 3 version didn't help their cause, as that iteration scored a couple points lower on average (and we didn't help, either). Money is a hot topic at Obsidian after 30 staffers lost their jobs, and that South Park RPG was ditched.

EA often makes statements citing review scores, in that they keep striving to put out "90+" products, and when gauging the success of a title, the review scores are often the first thing they mention. Other publishers do the same, and there's no doubt that the better reviews you get, the more money you're likely to see. But a bonus for hitting a certain average score? That really is interesting.

Related Game(s): Fallout: New Vegas

Tags: fallout new vegas, fallout new vegas sales, fallout new vegas reviews, obsidian

3/15/2012 10:16:32 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (25 posts)

Mr_Sterg
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 10:38:29 AM
Reply

Must be a lot pressure for the devs... except for the COD devs. jk jk

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gumbi
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 11:24:15 AM
Reply

Performance based bonuses are common in many businesses. What's surprising to me is that they would base it on a non-static rating system. How do they decide when to capture that rating for determining the bonus?

The more common and more sensible bonus structure would be to base it on sales. If we reach x number of sales you get a bonus of $x.

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Highlander
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 11:32:46 AM
Reply

This has to be the single most stupid remuneration policy decision ever. Why the hell would anyone want to allow the metacritic score determine whether they get paid or not? That's like allowing bloggers to decide whether a restaurant is any good or not. You have a disproportionate number of stuck up morons who fancy themselves as high standards critics. Their overly and overtly critical reviews skew the real results.

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bigrailer19
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 11:44:32 AM

I would suggest they shoot for sales bonuses, rather than basing it off "critics", and scores.

Edit: as gumbi previously mentioned above!

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 3/15/2012 11:45:16 AM

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daus26
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 11:46:47 AM

Well, it's just bonuses we're talking about here. Bonuses are just that, a little extra of anything. Most bonuses I come across in my life doesn't exactly have the best policy or reason either. What's clear is employers won't make it easy for everyone, and clearly, getting a Metacritic of 85 is a challenge to many. Whether the critics are amateur or not is irrelevant, as it's about the "challenge."

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 12:06:50 PM

I would assume the Metacritic average only takes the scores from major sites; I believe there is such a filter at GameRankings, for instance.

So while random bloggers shouldn't determine the fate of a restaurant, actual food critics often do, especially when it comes to high cuisine. And I don't have too much of a problem with that. There are experts in any field; if there weren't, it would mean there's only opinion and subjective aspects to any analysis...and I've never believed that's true.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 3/15/2012 12:07:25 PM

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Mr_Sterg
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 12:40:53 PM

Yea i agree. $$$ should determine bonuses. Ex: I'm sure COD one day will be getting pretty bad reviews but Revenue will be crazy (don't need to go into detail why cuz we all know that) and thus Activision(bad example I know) will probably give a bonus. All companies care about is the bottom line. Probably why RES is going for more action oriented type game since this has been proven to deliver on Revenue expectations and that is what matters for the business.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 1:59:53 PM

Yeah but major sites have insane people working for them like Destructoid.

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Temjin001
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 3:37:42 PM

I don't feel strongly either way because I haven't thought it all the way through.

In one hand, I like that publishers incentify their teams to raise themselves to a standard of excellence.

On the other hand, ideals between critics and gamers aren't always valued and weighted the same way.
I also think, unlike film, video game design doesn't have the history and academic foundation for critical appraisal, where an arbitrary set of values may be brought to the table that may or may not be identifeable or acknowledged the same way across critics.
For this reason I tend to prefer less specific scoring as I think a round about evaluation tends to jive with my values more. For example, I'm just not a big fan of "replay value", as I think that can vary in large degree of the context. Also, I liked that in IGN's review of ME3 they acknowledged the nitpick flaws that occasional crop up in play and won't let that drag the whole score down as a result. I also felt the same thing for Infamous 2 when it came to control complaints, though, I did think IGN's review was little too biased.

Anyway, Ratchet Clank HD Trilogy is official ;)


Last edited by Temjin001 on 3/15/2012 3:39:57 PM

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BikerSaint
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 12:27:51 PM
Reply

I think basing bonuses on the Metacritic is a horrible way to go.

If I remember right, there was a mini-scandel already with the Metacritic scoring program not long ago, that involved either reviewers and/or developers and/or publishers trying to jack up the scores of certain games.

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bebestorm
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 12:45:11 PM
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I believe critic scores is a better choice than sales because many games have great scores but low sales.

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Beamboom
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 1:41:04 PM

I very much agree!

I'm not a big fan of bonuses in general, but at least with this bonus model sales is not the *only* factor that counts.
A wonderfully crafted, artistic quality title that is well received can still give a bonus even if the market don't respond with the same enthusiasm.

I like this.


Last edited by Beamboom on 3/15/2012 1:43:53 PM

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JCARROLL
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 1:18:55 PM
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It's a real shame that this goes on while sources like Edge and the A.V. Club are allowed on Metacritic. Some of their scores are mind-blowing(in a bad way).

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Beamboom
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 1:46:45 PM

On larger titles we talk about 40-80 review sources. One or two stray ratings doesn't matter much much at all, mathematically speaking.

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JCARROLL
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 3:11:36 PM

Yes of course. It would take 9 or 10 poor reviews to make any impact really. But when these average scores are being taken so seriously by consumers and are affecting hardworking peoples salaries, people fortunate enough to be in the position to review games should score every title with a fair score 100% of the time.

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Beamboom
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 3:30:55 PM

I'm pretty sure the reviewers believe their score is fair 100% of the time. If reviews were based on an absolute, mathematical formula we would not need reviewers.

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frylock25
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 1:24:52 PM
Reply

wait what? the south park game is not coming out?

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BikerSaint
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 6:32:23 PM

Yes, the South Park RPG has been cancelled & 35 employees have also been laid off.

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Underdog15
Friday, March 16, 2012 @ 10:32:10 AM

yeah, it sucks. I was looking forward to it.

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Dell Taco
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 1:48:58 PM
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I never heard south park was cancelled. I was looking forward to playing it.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 2:01:17 PM
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Obsidian is always one game away from certain death. They did okay on New Vegas but not great. In this case I'd say it worked, they didn't deserve that bonus.

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Beamboom
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 2:55:47 PM

Hehe - agreed. They didn't.

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SmokeyPSD
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 5:47:48 PM
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Obsidian haven't deserved a lot of franchises. Let alone bonuses.

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bentl78
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 11:00:37 PM
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New Vegas was a good game.. except for the bugs :( it was just frustrating.. i had to quit out to the xmb so many times to continue playing

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JackC8
Friday, March 16, 2012 @ 7:42:43 AM
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Can't say I feel sorry for Obsidian - take a franchise like Fallout and a Metacritic average of 85 or above is pretty much guaranteed unless you really screw it up. And they did. Not only was the game basically unplayable at launch, but it was very obviously a standalone expansion pack rather than a "new" game. Really should have been priced around $40 at launch.

I think the idea of paying developers for Metacritic scores is flawed. Established franchises are given high scores as a matter of course, while new IP's, no matter how good they are, often get nitpicked to death by most reviewers.

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