Metacritic is a website that
Metacritic's scoring converts each review into a percentage, either mathematically from the mark given, or what the site decides subjectively from a qualitative review. Before being averaged, the scores are weighted according to a critic's popularity, stature, and volume of reviews. The website won two
Metacritic was launched in January 2001 by Marc Doyle, his sister Julie Doyle Roberts, and a classmate from the University of Southern California law school, Jason Dietz, after two years of developing the site. Rotten Tomatoes was already compiling movie reviews, but Doyle, Roberts and Dietz saw an opportunity to cover a broader range of media. They sold Metacritic to CNET in 2005. CNET and Metacritic were later acquired by the CBS Corporation. In 2020, Metacritic and other CNET titles were bought by Red Ventures. In 2022, Red Ventures sold Metacritic and other entertainment websites to Fandom Inc.
Metacritic has been used by businesses to predict future sales. In 2007, Nick Wingfield of
Controversially, the website has been used by game publishers as a means of determining whether a game's developer receives additional royalties. One notable example is the 2010 game Fallout: New Vegas, which received an average Metascore of 84 that fell one short of the 85 points required by Bethesda, the game's publisher. As a result, its developer, Obsidian Entertainment, received no additional bonus. Columnists took issue with the company's use of Metacritic, with one suggesting that this makes game critics ultimately accountable for deciding the developer's profits and another pointing out that a Metascore of 84 is not significantly lower than 85. The latter also pointed out the impressive sales of five million sold units and US$300 million in revenue, and also noted a series of Obsidian's layoffs in 2011 and 2012.
The website has also been used by columnists and commentators as a general reference for critical reception, and by publishers as a tool of improving their products. Along with other executives, in 2008, John Riccitiello, then CEO of Electronic Arts, showed Wall Street analysts a chart illustrating a downward trend in the average critical ratings of the company's games. He took the ratings seriously and stressed the need for the company to bounce back. Also in 2008, Microsoft used Metacritic averages to delist underperforming Xbox Live Arcade games.
Scores are weighted averages. Certain publications are given more significance "because of their stature". Metacritic has said that it will not reveal the relative weight assigned to each reviewer.
Games Editor Marc Doyle was interviewed in 2008 by Keith Stuart of The Guardian to "get a look behind the metascoring process". Stuart wrote: "The Metascore phenomenon, namely Metacritic and GameRankings, have become an enormously important element of online games journalism over the past few years". Doyle said that because video games lead to a greater investment of time and money, gamers are more informed about reviews than are fans of film or music; they want to know "whether that hotly anticipated title is going to deliver".
|Generally favorable reviews||75–89||61–80|
|Mixed or average reviews||50–74||40–60|
|Generally unfavorable reviews||20–49||20–39|
In June 2018, Metacritic established the "Must-See" label for a movie that "achieves a Metascore of 81 or higher and has been reviewed by a minimum of 15 professional critics". In September 2018, it added the "Must-Play" certification for video games attaining a score of 90% or more, and a minimum number of 15 reviews from industry professionals.
The standalone highest-rated game of all time on the site is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, with a 99. The three games with a 98 are Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Soulcalibur. There are about two dozen 97-rated games with standouts including Red Dead Redemption 2 and Grand Theft Auto V. There are nine movies that have received a 100: The Godfather; Citizen Kane; Rear Window; Casablanca; Boyhood; Three Colors: Red; Vertigo; Fanny and Alexander; and Notorious. There are five TV Show Seasons that have received a 99, including Season 4 of Rectify, Season 4 and Season 6 of The Larry Sanders Show, Season 1 of Murder One, and Season 5 of Breaking Bad. The standalone highest-rated album of all time on the site is Ten Freedom Summers by American trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith, with a 99.
On the other hand, the standalone lowest-rated game of all time is
Metacritic received mixed reviews from website critics, commentators, and columnists alike. Its efficacy has been analyzed, with conclusions finding it to be generally useful or unreliable and biased. The website won two annual Webby Awards for excellence in the "Guides/Ratings/Reviews" category, in 2010 and 2015.
Metacritic has been criticized for converting all scoring systems into a single quantitative percentage-based scale. For example, an "A" score equates to the value of 100, an "F" the value of zero, and a "B−" the value of 67.
According to Doyle, publishers often try to persuade him to exclude reviews they feel are unfair, but he said that once a publication is included, he refuses to omit any of its reviews.
Metacritic has also been criticized for how it handles banning users and their reviews, with no notice or formal process for appeal. Critics and developers have pointed out that a product can suffer from rating manipulation by users, as by garnering low ratings that purposely damage its reputation or by receiving high ratings from throwaway accounts to make it appear more popular than it actually is. Signal Studios president and creative director Douglas Albright described the website as having no standards. In July 2020, Metacritic added a 36-hour waiting period for user reviews to be posted for video games at launch in an effort to reduce user score review-bombing during that period by users that haven't or barely played the game during a period when most players haven't finished the game.
Some have noted that Metacritic scores for modern video games may not be accurately reflective of a game's state in the future due to post release updates and patches as well as most press reviews of games taking place around its launch. For example, the metascore for
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