You might know Metacritic, the popular web-based aggregator of worldwide video games reviews. Its ratings are the ratings from the Internet, as they express the average of all the reviews coming from gaming websites. That average is supposed to be undisputable and unquestionable, since it is the results of pure maths applied to video games journalism, and in synthesis this is why publishers rely on the aggregator so much they introduce specific Metacritic-related clauses in their contracts with external developers: if you don’t reach a certain rating on Metacritic, you don’t obtain this economic bonus we had prepared for your software house.
In a certain extent, Metacritic represents the Curriculum Vitae of developers: look at their games’ ratings on the aggregator and you will instantly know if they deserve your attention or, if you are a publisher, your money.
After being in the spotlight for a few years, Metacritic has been brought back in the barrage because of the poor ratings assigned to the first “next-gen” (we should call it “current-gen” by now) productions. Until today, PlayStation 4 exclusives Metacritic ratings had an average of 66,43, being surpassed by Xbox One exclusives, that stand anyway by a poor 68,66, because of The Order: 1886’s performance. Do you see what is happening? None of the games so far released for next-gen consoles have been critically acclaimed and this, after two years from the launch of those consoles, is clearly becoming a quality issue.
Luckily enough, Bloodborne is about to release (launched in NA, will arrive on 26th March in UK) and the first reviews have appeared online once the embargo has lifted off. Critics have been so far pretty generous with From Software’s new title, as it has a Metacritic score of 93. This means that none of the 35 reviews applied had been mixed or negative about it, with two reviews assigning 100 out of 100 and only two 80 out of 100. The ratings amid oscillate between 95 and 87. If you are a gamer, Bloodborne looks an easy bet for your PlayStation 4 games collection, but this isn’t simply Sony’s success or PS4’s success: the arrival of this title could be a blessing for the entire industry, as it finally raises the bar of quality and gives once again an idea to developers of what gamers really want.
Gamers want full length and complete experiences to live and play. For example, a title like The Order: 1886 could be considered good or moving by “a part” of gamers that want just some particular aspects to be satisfied by video games – i.e., graphics and cinematic immersion. Well, that’s a part, and it’s smaller than you think as video games are striving to evolve as a medium and become something as similar as possible to movies, but they have existed well ahead than cinema in gamers’ minds and hearts. Gamers still recall when they played Super Mario on NES, just to make one name, and they won’t forget that feeling of novelty and surprise. They absolutely won’t and perhaps they will try and find it forever and ever, even though that search could be gone in vain. That’s the meaning of their dissatisfaction with the modern games.
Bloodborne could not be the game that innovates and ultimately saves the industry, but at least it follows the tradition of Demon’s and Dark Souls that have been challenging gamers after years of experiments trying to change video games and to transform them in something they could possibly be but, at this moment, they are not.