Last updated
Metacritic logo.svg
Type of site
Review aggregator
Owner CBS Interactive
Alexa rankIncrease2.svg 1,222 (June 2018) [1]
LaunchedJanuary 2001;18 years ago (2001-01)
Current statusActive
OCLC  number 911795326

Metacritic is a website that aggregates reviews of media products: films, TV shows, music albums, video games, and formerly, books. For each product, the scores from each review are averaged (a weighted average). [2] Metacritic was created by Jason Dietz, Marc Doyle, and Julie Doyle Roberts in 1999. The site provides an excerpt from each review and hyperlinks to its source. A color of green, yellow or red summarizes the critics' recommendations. It has been described as the video game industry's "premier" review aggregator. [3] [4]

The video game industry is the economic sector involved in the development, marketing, and monetization of video games. It encompasses dozens of job disciplines and its component parts employ thousands of people worldwide.


Metacritic's scoring converts each review into a percentage, either mathematically from the mark given, or which the site decides subjectively from a qualitative review. Before being averaged, the scores are weighted according to the critic's fame, stature, and volume of reviews.


Metacritic was launched in January 2001 [5] 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. [6] CNET and Metacritic were later acquired by the CBS Corporation. [7]

University of Southern California Private research university in Los Angeles, California, United States

The University of Southern California is a private research university in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1880, it is the oldest private research university in California. For the 2018–19 academic year, there were 20,000 students enrolled in four-year undergraduate programs. USC also has 27,500 graduate and professional students in a number of different programs, including business, law, engineering, social work, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and medicine. It is the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles, and generates $8 billion in economic impact on Los Angeles and California.

Rotten Tomatoes American review aggregator for film and television, owned by Fandango

Rotten Tomatoes is an American review-aggregation website for film and television. The company was launched in August 1998 by three undergraduate students at the University of California, Berkeley: Senh Duong, Patrick Y. Lee, and Stephen Wang. The name "Rotten Tomatoes" derives from the practice of audiences throwing rotten tomatoes when disapproving of a poor stage performance.

CNET American media website about technology and consumer electronics

CNET is an American media website that publishes reviews, news, articles, blogs, podcasts and videos on technology and consumer electronics globally. Founded in 1994 by Halsey Minor and Shelby Bonnie, it was the flagship brand of CNET Networks and became a brand of CBS Interactive through CNET Networks' acquisition in 2008. CNET originally produced content for radio and television in addition to its website and now uses new media distribution methods through its Internet television network, CNET Video, and its podcast and blog networks.

In August 2010, the website's appearance was revamped. [8] In June 2018, the website introduced the 'Metacritic: Must-See' label for films that attain scores of 81% or more, with at least 15 professional reviews for the given film. [9] In September 2018, it added the 'Metacritic: Must-Play' certification for video games attaining a score of 90% or more, and a minimum number of 15 reviews from industry professionals. [10]


Scores are weighted averages. Certain publications are given more significance "because of their stature". [6] Metacritic has said that it will not reveal the relative weight assigned to each reviewer. [11]

Games Editor Marc Doyle was interviewed 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". [12] 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". [12]

<i>The Guardian</i> British national daily newspaper

The Guardian is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as The Manchester Guardian, and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers The Observer and The Guardian Weekly, the Guardian is part of the Guardian Media Group, owned by the Scott Trust. The trust was created in 1936 to "secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity and to safeguard the journalistic freedom and liberal values of the Guardian free from commercial or political interference". The trust was converted into a limited company in 2008, with a constitution written so as to maintain for The Guardian the same protections as were built into the structure of the Scott Trust by its creators. Profits are reinvested in journalism rather than distributed to owners or shareholders.

GameRankings website that collects review scores from both offline and online sources to give an average rating

GameRankings is a website that collects review scores from both offline and online sources to give an average rating. It indexes over 315,000 articles relating to more than 14,500 video games.

The rating indication of metascores is: [13]

IndicationVideo gamesFilms/television/music
Universal acclaim90–10081–100
Generally favorable reviews75–8961–80
Mixed or average reviews50–7440–60
Generally unfavorable reviews20–4920–39
Overwhelming dislike0–190–19

Video games

Metacritic is regarded as the foremost online review aggregation site for the video game industry. [3] [4]

Nick Wingfield of The Wall Street Journal has written that Metacritic "influence[s] the sales of games and the stocks of video game publishers". He explains its influence as coming from the higher cost of buying video games than music or movie tickets. [6] Many executives say that low scores "can hurt the long-term sales potential". [6] Wingfield wrote that Wall Street pays attention to Metacritic and GameRankings because the sites typically post scores before sales data are publicly available, citing the respective rapid rise and fall in company values after BioShock and Spider-Man 3 were released. [6]

In an interview with The Guardian , Marc Doyle cited "two major publishers" that "conducted comprehensive statistical surveys through which they've been able to draw a correlation between high metascores and stronger sales" in certain genres. [12] He claimed that an increasing number of businesses and financial analysts use Metacritic as "an early indicator of a game's potential sales and, by extension, the publisher's stock price". [12]

In 2004, Jason Hall and Marcus Johnson of Warner Bros. began "including 'quality metrics' in contracts with partners licensing its movies for games": if a product does not at least achieve a specific score, some deals require the publisher to pay higher royalties. [6]

In 2008, Microsoft began using Metacritic averages to de-list underperforming Xbox Live Arcade games. [14] [15]

A study done in 2015 over 88 Xbox 360 and 80 PS3 games from 2012 found that "metacritic scores have no impact in determining actual sales" [16]


Some game reviewers take issue with the way Metacritic assigns scores. When a reviewer gives a rating of "A", Metacritic assigns it a value of 100, and for "F" a value of zero; some[ who? ] think a score of 50 would be more appropriate. [6] For a "B–", Metacritic assigns a value of 67, yet some publishers, developers, and websurfers[ who? ] believe it should be closer to 80, in line with the conversion often used in the US education system. [12] Joe Dodson, former editor at Game Revolution, criticized Metacritic and similar sites for turning reviews into scores that are too low. [6] However, Doyle responded: "I feel that ANY scale simply needs to be converted directly with its lowest possible grade equating to 0, and the highest to 100". [12]

Doyle said that some publishers want him to include extra critics, and exclude others, usually because they have given a poor review. Another common complaint from US publishers is that British critics should not be reviewing games that are based on American sports like the NFL, NASCAR, or the NBA. Doyle said: "Conversely, many European publishers feel that American critics are not qualified or properly situated to review football, rally, F1, cricket, and rugby games...once I've decided to track a publication, I cannot pick and choose which reviews I list on Metacritic based on such individual judgments". [12]

Publishers often try to persuade Doyle to exclude reviews they feel are unfair, but he said that once a publication is included, he refuses to omit any of its reviews. [6] A Washington Post review of Uncharted 4 was assigned with a rating of 40/100 by Metacritic; this was the only "negative" review of the game. [17] Gamers who did not like the review petitioned Metacritic to remove the Post as a trusted source. [18]

As a result of its perceived negative influence on the industry, several reviewing sites, including Kotaku and Eurogamer , have dropped numerical reviews that would appear in Metacritic, instead favoring a qualitative assessment of a game. [19] [20]

Metacritic has been criticized for how it handles banning users and their reviews, with no notice or formal process for appeal. [21] Critics and developers have pointed out the website's lack of personal management along with its automatic systems, since a video game can be review bombed with low ratings to damage its reputation. In the same respect, a game can be given multiple 10 ratings by 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". [22]


Metacritic lists over 9,000 films ranked by aggregate score on a Marcus rating scale. [23]

See also

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