Reviewer Targeted For Giving Uncharted 4 Negative Review

Illustration for article titled Reviewer Targeted For Giving iUncharted 4/i Negative Review

“Your Washington post for Christ’s Sake , not a 12-year-old’s diary,” reads a recent internet petition about Uncharted 4. “Treat the game with professionalism and respect.”

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This petition has over 4,000 supporters and has even been signed and tweeted by the popular voice actor Troy Baker, who co-stars in the newest Uncharted. Its goal is not to demand that The Washington Post take video games more seriously, nor is it to ask the storied newspaper to expand their gaming coverage more broadly. This is a petition to remove The Washington Post’s Uncharted 4 review score from Metacritic.

See, Washington Post reviewer Michael Thomsen did not like Uncharted 4, and he slammed the game accordingly. Thomsen, a veteran critic, usually takes a contrarian approach to his reviews, doling out harsh criticism to beloved games like Dark Souls and Red Dead Redemption. (He once wrote a regular IGN column called Contrarian Corner.) His review of Uncharted 4 does not have a score, but when The Washington Post sent it to Metacritic they gave it a 4/10, which as of right now is the only score below an 80. Hence: internet petitions. (Update - 12:03pm: I’ve tweaked this paragraph to make it clear that The Washington Post chose that score.)

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“This guy doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously by big , crucial sites like Metacritic,” reads the petition. “It harms the Flawless reputation of the game for absolutely no reason. A review is not about what you think a game is , its about what a game is. Objective measures are applied.”

The fun doesn’t stop there. For the sin of giving Uncharted 4 a bad review, Thomsen has been barraged by tweets ranging from personal insults to actual threats. Here’s a very small sampling:

Illustration for article titled Reviewer Targeted For Giving iUncharted 4/i Negative Review
Illustration for article titled Reviewer Targeted For Giving iUncharted 4/i Negative Review

What’s sad is that this has become expected. For many years now, review scores have poisoned the discourse surrounding video games. Reviewers who shy away from the norm and offer lower scores than average are regularly faced with abuse from video game fans who feel the need to defend their favorite purchases. When a reviewer dares to give a much-hyped game like Grand Theft Auto V a non-perfect score, they risk facing the horde. Harsh criticism on sites that don’t give review scores (like Kotaku) is rarely if ever met with this sort of reaction. Numbers just drive people crazy.

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Review scores, as we’ve said before, are toxic to gaming culture. They kill nuance, invite unfair comparisons, and create the illusion that video games can be evaluated definitely and objectively. And Metacritic has hurt video game developers and games in all sorts of ways. Thanks to score aggregation, a 20-year-old college student who writes game reviews between classes might cost an independent studio millions of dollars.

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Incidentally, Thomsen’s review isn’t even very sharp. It fails to make a convincing case that Nathan Drake’s story is an “inconclusive wreck” and it doesn’t have much to say about how the game feels or whether the game’s creators accomplished what they set out to do. One might think it could lead to some interesting critical conversations. Or it could just lead to Troy Baker signing a petition about the review score.

“I believe U4 is one of the greatest games ever created and it is my personal favorite for sure,” reads the petition, “although i can justify some reviewers giving it a 9 or an 8. But this is a utter disgrace.”

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DISCUSSION

Look, I consider myself the biggest Playstation fanboy, while I don’t agree with Thomsen’s review, I still think it is valid and shouldn’t be removed from Metacritic. What I do have a problem with however, is where the hell the score 40/100 came from?

Thomsen’s review is scoreless, there’s no scoring whatsoever anywhere on his review, how did Metacritic came up with 40/100? Metacritic has its own section for in-progress and unscored reviews, just below the scored reviews:

This is where Metacritic post reviews without scores, including ones from CNET, Wired and Ars Technica (Kotaku’s review is never here somehow). So I must ask, why is Thomsen’s review not posted in the unscored scetion instead? How did Metacritic came up with 40/100 for Thomsen’s review? Did they interpret the score themselves based on the review? If yes, why didn’t they do the same for the other unscored reviews? Or did they contact Thomsen and asked for the score? If yes, did they also contact the other unscored reviewers?

I need to know where the 40/100 score came from. Thomsen is entitled to his opinion, his review should be listed in Metacritic. The score however, if it doesn’t come from Thomsen himself, needs to be removed.