Before we teamed up with Gameplanet, AustralianGamer was in a fortunate position: we didn't actually matter.
Back then, we could look at larger websites, more prestigious websites, websites of character, distinction and professionalism, and conclude that they mattered. What they did mattered. Most importantly, what they scored mattered.
Such websites also have the unfortunate position of being given games before they come out. This means that they get a first run on reviews, yes, but when reviewing a game before other reviews go up how is the writer supposed to know what his or her opinion is supposed to be? In those halcyon days, we were in the fortunate position of being able to read what the professionals thought before forming our opinion correctly.
There have been a few recent high-profile games that have tripped up reviewers. Eurogamer's Simon Parkin was rightly condemned for the temerity to score Uncharted 3 only 8/10 when the entire internet, even without ever playing it, clearly knew it deserved a better score. Let this be a lesson to publications like Eurogamer that they should check Metacritic beforethey go and make fools of themselves. I presume that in response to wide criticism by those who had not yet played the game, Eurogamer has adjusted its score upwards to more accurately reflect Uncharted 3's flawless brilliance, but I haven't actually checked. If people who haven't even got the game yet can tell how good it is, Eurogamer's foolish score is frankly an embarrassment to to games media everywhere.
Eurogamer isn’t alone, though. Tom McShea of GameSpot, who should honestly know better, recently scored Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword a mere 7.5/10. As any Nintendo fan will tell you this is the biggest and best game of the year, and deserves at least an 11/10, and when they all get a chance to actually play it they'll make damn sure GameSpot's user review score better matches up with the metacritic score of 90 percent, a number itself brought down by this irresponsible and unprofessionally incorrect score.
The words of a GameSpot commenter correctly sum up this travesty:
"Nintendo single-handedly saved gaming and this indirectly gave you all jobs and this is how you repay them!?!?! WORD CAN'T EXPRESS HOW MAD I AM! This is honestly the worst thing to happen in the seventh generation of video games."
Well said, dat1337vet. Well said. Word cannot express indeed.
And things are only going to get worse. After all, a few months before release, massive numbers of people on forums and communities such as NeoGaf and Reddit were already well aware that Skyrim was the clear winner of Game of the Year, and the only way Skyrim's experience could possibly get better is if they actually played the game. Or most of its competition.
If there's a lesson in this at all, it’s that gaming journalists need to understand that the arbitrary numbers they give video games do actually matter, and lest they wish to incur the wrath of their paymasters at Nintendo, they should put some effort into making sure the number they provide is actually correct.