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