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Review Scores Can't Be The Only Way To Pick GotY Awards

The year is coming to a close and now's the time when sources and publications the world over start handing out game awards.

How the winners are chosen changes from place to place, of course, but there's one seemingly universal constant of which gamers should be aware:

Review scores don't entirely dictate most awards, nor should they.

Now, you have a right to be confused if a website gives a game a 7.5 or something and then it earns Game of the Year. One would also have legitimate questions if the overall GotY winner only got a score of 8.5, which topped other candidates that scored in the 9+ range. One of the most common reactions from readers every year is, "wait, that game didn't score as high as that game, so how did it win?"

Firstly, don't forget that critics can - and sometimes have to - be prisoners of the moment. For this reason, titles that came out earlier in the year couldn't possibly have been compared to later titles. It's reasonable to assume that an 8.0 product in February wouldn't earn that same score in November, simply due to increased competition and the ever-increasing standards bar. Secondly, some critics tend to review within particular genres; i.e., their scores are based on comparisons to titles in the same genre and not necessarily other games outside the category.

Hence, while some reviewers try and give you an overall quality score that pits the likes of Rocket League against Batman: Arkham Knight (perhaps illogical?), others won't. You'll see in this example that the two games earned the same score, but I'm hoping the knowledgeable understand that the two titles are in simply two different stratospheres in the gaming world. Not that one is inherently "better" because of it, but the differences should be obvious. And of course, this leads to another point involving developer budget, intended audience, etc. A mobile game, no matter how good it is, probably shouldn't be compared to Fallout 4.

Last but not least is the fact that, quite simply, reviewers can change their minds. Not a lot, but in reflecting on the year, they often remember games a little differently than when they first played them. Forgive us, we're human. These are just a few things to consider when checking out everyone's end-of-year awards, alrighty?

Tags: game of the year awards, best games of 2015, video game awards

12/28/2015 9:45:07 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (9 posts)

Monday, December 28, 2015 @ 10:15:14 PM

IMO, a mobile game should never ever be lumped in with a console game.

I say let the mobile's have their own section of "mobile categories" when picking game awards.

And that way everyone can have their own lil' cupcake & eat it too.

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Monday, December 28, 2015 @ 10:22:38 PM

Gamers also need to remember that everyone's personal GotY is the most important one there is.

When it's your GotY, it's your perception measured against your values and no one elses. Keep in mind that some critics are arriving at decisions based on their perception of what everyone else's values are.

I'm not suggesting one shouldn't respect someone elses choice; though, it's probably a good idea to explore why another arrived at such a conclusion. I can only see this as broadening your understanding of the medium and how games affect people differently.

For me it all boils down to this. The reason I play video games is to find experiences that impacted me like Bloodborne and Fallout 4 did for me this year. For those who didn't connect similarly with such games isn't my problem and shouldn't be my concern.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 12/28/2015 10:30:58 PM

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015 @ 2:52:13 AM

Don't see why scores should matter. Really just suggestions of what most people would enjoy. Face facts. A lower rated game with more sales and more play time is far more GOTY than a higher rated game with less sales and plays. Critical darlings are nice in theory, but as Hollywood has shown, it means nothing if viewers disagree. How many people brag that critics loved their show when it gets cancelled after ep 13? Likewise, the popularity of a game should matter most.

GOTY to me is one of the best our there. Best is what games people are buying and playing a lot of. Getting the most DLC. Etc. Not what game a small group of people really, really liked. Especially, posted above, what they like can change throughout the year. Reviewers should always offer suggestions base don generalness. Not be the be all end all deciders.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, December 29, 2015 @ 10:55:33 AM

These awards are not supposed to be popularity contests. Whether or not they sell well should have zero impact because the last thing the mainstream masses are qualified to do is evaluate quality.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015 @ 2:10:22 PM

I don't agree with the game that sells the most is GOTY automatically. It certainly could be however if it was a production worthy of its praise. I don't think COD is this year's GOTY but I'm pretty sure it sold well as usual. It was a great game though.

But I also don't think games should be reviewed in genres. For example the two games mentioned in the article - Rocket League and Batman - if they are both 9+ games they are what they are. If one isn't as good as the other the score should reflect that. Games should be reviewed strictly based in the production of the game and th categories a reviewer chooses. As a consumer I just want a straight arrow that tells me if the game is good, regardless of genre.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015 @ 10:22:46 AM

I see that on the poll for this week The Witcher 3 is winning and I am fine with that because that's the game that I enjoyed the most this year but as Temjin has stated -- being objective MGS5 was the overall better game.

Of course review scores shouldn't be the only factor in determining game of the year. One must look at the total package, fun factor and how the game changed the way we play individually and/or play with others.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015 @ 10:53:12 AM

I will say my choice came about by deciding to include the launch woes and problems Witcher 3 has had.
I'm a big a proponent of significance factor when it comes to GotY. While I think Witcher's accomplishments do a lot for the open world RPG, I believe we as gamers ought to expect better stability from our entertainment. Stability is significant and I'm afraid this problem is only going to get worse. PC gaming's lower standard for stability and consistent performance isn't one I'm so readily to accept console side.
MGSV stands tall as an incredible stealth action adventure like no other. It's the full package, complete with excellent and original multiplayer.
As a fan of the series it's hard to accept MGSV's changes but as an objectively minded person the choice is clear.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 12/29/2015 10:57:03 AM

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015 @ 11:16:03 AM

Whoa whoa whoa!!! Game of the year IS supposed to be a popularity contest. This isnt the academy awards for gods sakes that uses politics to win! Wtf are you thinking of this?

YOu think you are some sort of better GAMER that gives you some sort of authority over other gamers on what is a better game? NO! Every single person in gaming has a voice on why, or not, a game should be considered the best. BEing poplular is one of the single best reasons. LOGICALLY SPEAKING, that helps define it!!

1 billion people buying a game cannot be ignored. Sweet damn god! Do you think millions and millions who buy one single game are just stupid or something? NO! They bought it because they thought through game sites, or playing betas, or previous installments that it was gonna be a great game.


Professional game reviewers who think they are best at reviewing games are complete and utter ..... dumbasses.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015 @ 1:52:27 PM

There's people's choice awards you know?
And seeing something like CoD take home GotY year after year would be boring.

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