Different systems of evaluation for computer games are sometimes difficult to compare and can induce confusion among users.

There are some well-known review-aggregation sites that are consulted by fans of computer gaming. Meta critic is one of them and it uses a scale starting from 1 and going up to 100. The final score is calculated by averaging several other scores and the result is considered as a standard for anyone who wants to judge the quality of a computer game.

“Jumping the Shark”, a recent Game Shark pod cast, had the whole conversation centred on the games people play and how they are reviewed. A detail appeared on the pod cast was surprising by its character, as it seems to represent a common practice.

A Game Shark reviewer received a copy of the THQ UFC title for review. THQ, surprisingly, gave a set of rules about when this review could come alive. The review could see an early publishing if a score of 85 percent was reached on Meta critic. The review could not be published before the game’s release with a score under that minimum. It seems that it is not only THQ acting like this, the practice may be very common. As the score did not reach the imposed number, the review was not published.

Things are very strange as the score given by Game Shark to the game in review was B+. According to Meta critic’s scale, B+ is equivalent to 83, and although it may seem to be a good score, it is not for Meta critic. An A- would equal 85 points, which would be necessary to permit the earlier release of a review.

Being on Meta critic is maybe a guarantee for an increased readership, but this would require a series of concessions to be made, which may not be worth the trade. A reviewer can easily lose control on several levels. Meta critic has a numerical score that takes into account non-numerical systems of scoring, therefore control can be lost over what the score means. Control is also lost over when the review can be released, as companies refer to the way Meta critic interprets the score. When taking reviews seriously, these restrictions may be intolerable.

As Meta critic claims, it has been using a consistent A to F conversion scale since 2001. This scale is different from the letter grade conversion of the American school, as it considers the F equal to 0, not 58. The C is equivalent to 50 and so on. That is the reason why the B+ is not what it was expected to be. Meta critic never wants to make any comment related to its evaluation scale.

Game Shark is rather using a simpler system based on a verdict sounding like “Buy, Rent or Skip”, which is too vague for an inclusion in Meta critic’s scale. As a consequence, Game Shark’s reviews are not included in Meta critic’s evaluations. The hidden meaning of this situation is that using a different evaluation system prevents a reviewer from being part of the Meta critic’s scoring system. This also prevents publishers to try changing the way their games are evaluated.