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Braben wants Metacritic for journos

Frontier boss: review the reviewers.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Game reviewers should be subjected to a Metacritic-like system to judge which of them are the most reliable, Elite creator and Frontier Developments boss David Braben has suggested.

Speaking in a Develop column, Braben hailed the work of the majority of game reviewers, but singled out a few jobsworths who don't take their role seriously.

"In these connected times, Achievements or Trophies have been a curse for the small minority of hurried or irresponsible reviewers if their online ID is known," Braben wrote.

"Occasionally someone is caught out, or accused of being unreasonable. For example, there was the hoo-hah over the reviews of Space Giraffe and Kane and Lynch and the alleged connection to the firing of Jeff Gerstmann."

So, how to sort the wheat from the chaff? Braben suggested that the best reviewers be recognised by a system akin to the Metacritic aggregation site.

"Most reviewers are excellent at what they do, and it is a very hard job with, frankly, little glory. As an industry, there is something we could do to recognise this – effectively a Metacritic for reviewers," he explained.

"The best reviewers give spot-on reviews pretty soon after a game is released. They do not wait to see what others say, but nevertheless consistently come very close to the final average score. There could be a prize for the best each year."

"Don't forget – this is not intended to influence reviews – just to encourage and reward consistency – as it is not a high reviewer that gets the reward, it is the one that gets the best result," Braben clarified.

Braben's suggestion followed musings over the problems that face developers of children's or casual games. He argued it was often difficult for such a title to get a fair, balanced hearing from 'core' orientated reviewers.

"This method could also be used for non-'core' games, too, with the benchmark being either eventual sales, or eventual average user reviews," he added, "as at the moment it is a real lottery for customers buying games for their younger kids – with few trustworthy reviews – which is one of the reasons, I think, so many shovel-ware games sneak under the radar in this sector."

Frontier's last effort, Kinectimals for Xbox 360, launched back in November, winning a respectable 7/10 from Eurogamer's Keza MacDonald.

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