Today, our partner site Eurogamer made the momentous announcement that it would be dropping scores from its reviews. In a special post by editor Oli Welsh it was revealed that from this point onwards the site would be moving towards an alternative rating system - based on simpler terms such as "Essential", "Recommended" and "Avoid" (or no label at all) - and that it was the site's opinion that modern reviews had "out grown" the idea of having a number at the end.
Welsh's argument is that the way games are purchased and played has changed almost beyond recognition since Eurogamer launched 15 years ago. Back then, when a game was shipped it was final - there could be no post-launch patches or DLC upgrades, and the score awarded was set in stone. Fast forward to today and things have changed; consoles, handhelds and PCs all have internet access and developers and publishers have used this feature to patch-up broken games weeks after their initial release. We've also seen an explosion in the number of games which focus attention on multiplayer features over the web, and often these elements are not ready when reviews are expected to go live.
The industry's almost deadly relationship with review-aggregation site Metacritic is another reason Eurogamer has dropped scores. As Welsh points out, Metacritic has gone from being a useful resource to a tool which publishers use to decide whether or not a studio should remain open or be closed because its last title didn't get a good enough score. The decision means that Eurogamer's reviews will no longer appear on Metacritic - a brave and ballsy move when you consider how much traffic comes from that site.
As ever, there are two sides to this argument. A numerical score is a quick and easy way of saying whether or not a game is worth your time, and is certainly helpful when you're trying to make an informed choice on what title you want to buy next. People crave a metric by which they can effectively judge the value of something, and newspapers, movie magazines and countless other media sites continue to use scores when rating products.
However, is a score out of 5 or 10 really more effective than a simple "Get this", "Try this if you have the time" or "Avoid this" statement at the end? Do scores under 7 out of 10 really matter when you're making a purchasing decision? Many people erroneously assume that 7 is some kind of "average" score, when that isn't the case - on the Nintendo Life rating scale, 5 out of 10 would denote an "average" game. We'd like to think that we rate games fairly and logically when using the 10-point scale, but we don't doubt for a second that some of you will disagree. But then again, a review is always based on someone's opinion, and opinions can vary wildly for a whole host of reasons - so should we really get so caught up in what number appears at the bottom of the page?
Scores create issues. As our very own Thomas Whitehead so excellently summed up in a Talking Point piece back in 2013, the focus on a game's review score can completely override the content of the review itself, which leads to the obvious question: are you reading a review for the score, or the text - or both?
But hey - it says "Poll" at the top of the page for a reason. We're giving you the chance to make your voice heard on this matter. Should video game reviews carry a score? Would you like to see a time when the industry moves away from chucking seemingly arbitrary numbers at titles and instead puts more energy into analysing each new release in more detail? Or do you think as long as the body text supports the score, then the two elements can work together in perfect harmony? Cast your vote and leave a comment, and the world will know exaclty how you feel on the matter.