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Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL

Vertical Slice Games (VSG) is home to the MetaMeter, a video game rating system that is designed to be a measurement of quality video games. The MetaMeter is compiled by aggregating reviews from over two hundred professional video game publications, producing an aggregated score that reflects critic consensus – specifically, the percentage of positive reviews. When consumers decide whether or not to buy a game, they face a binary purchasing decision, one that is not aided by a single, or even small sample of traditional reviews. The MetaMeter aggregates a large number of reviews in order to produce a single recommendation (Play It or Skip It) based on the earned MetaMeter Score. Learn more about VSG and the MetaMeter on our About page.

There are hundreds of professional and amateur gaming websites on the internet, covering everything from breaking news, editorials, and scored (and unscored) reviews. There are also a few review aggregation sites – like Metacritic – that compile review coverage from these websites to provide an average review score. These sites provide some utility, but problems abound. Lack of transparency is rampant; hidden weights and unverifiable standards bias data; lack of review sample size for many games gives outsize influence to overly positive (or overly pessimistic impressions); corporate overlords dictate review coverage; and the ultimate metric – a ‘weighted’ or ‘average’ score – is almost entirely arbitrary. VSG is different. VSG is built for gamers by a gamer. We have no relationship with any other media outlet, or company in the games industry. In other words, VSG is completely independent. And it will remain so. We aim to become the one-stop-shop for gamers on the hunt for a new video game. And we promise to be uncompromising in our coverage.

Game reviews are added to VSG’s database as quickly and efficiently as possible, but precisely when data is pushed to our database after being aggregated can fluctuate. To reduce server load, the MetaMeter aggregates data on a rolling basis, with scheduled updates and error checks to ensure that all reviews from VSG Critics are accurately reflected on the site.

 

 

Games with an imminent release date, where we expect a large number of reviews in a short period of time, are given priority; whereas games previously released, with infrequent or no recent review activity, are given less priority. This can cause gaps in our data, so give VSG a nudge if you notice your favorite critics’ review missing for a particular game. Also note that the number of total reviews is listed on the top of each Game Hub, so you can tell at a glance when more reviews have been added.

Not yet. While there is no timetable for release, VSG recognizes the value of API’s as tools for sharing application data over the Internet, and plans on developing this functionality in the future.



In the meantime, we are working on a Google Sheets spreadsheet containing current and historical MetaMeter data that will be made available to Patreon subscribers.

If you’ve found a bug or identified a factual error or omission, please use the Contact page to report the issue. Thanks for your help!

If you’re reading this line, buried on a FAQ page in an obscure corner of the Internet, you’re an awesome human being. VSG and the MetaMeter is a passion project, born out of a love for video games and the communities they create. But it wouldn’t be here without the support of others – family, friends, and you.



Tell your family and friends about VSG. Share our content on social media. Interact with VSG and other members of the community. And if you want really want to go above and beyond, consider checking out VSG’s Patreon.

THE METAMETER

The MetaMeter Score reflects the percentage of positive critic reviews for a video game. To calculate the MetaMeter Score for a given game, VSG (1) extracts the reviews/impressions for the game selected for MetaMeter coverage by crawling publications on our Publications List, (2) normalizes and classifies reviews into two baskets (recommended vs. not recommended), and (3) divides the number of ‘recommended’ reviews by the total number of reviews aggregated. The About page describes this process in further detail.

Whether a review is considered ‘recommended’ depends, first, on whether that review is scored or un-scored:

  • Scored reviews are ‘recommended’ when the normalized score is greater than or equal to 75 / 100;
  • Un-scored reviews are ‘recommended’ when they are ‘generally favorable’ (deference is given to favorability).

Conversely, scored reviews with a score less than 75 / 100, and un-scored reviews that are ‘generally unfavorable’, are classified as ‘not recommended’. Note that whether or not an individual review is considered ‘recommended’ or ‘not recommended’ is unrelated to VSGs Play It or Skip It recommendation.

A growing number of gaming outlets have ceased issuing numerical verdicts in their game reviews, including large sites like Eurogamer, Kotaku, and Polygon. Most review aggregators do not include these reviews in their metrics because they are not easily quantified, but because VSG is not a simple average of scores (or a nebulous ‘weighted’ proprietary score), the MetaMeter is able to reflect un-scored reviews from these sites. We do so by classifying un-scored reviews as either ‘generally favorable’ or ‘generally unfavorable’ (corresponding to the ‘recommended’ and ‘not recommended’ framework employed for scored reviews). That is, reviews that express a generally favorable impression about a game – without serious reservations – are treated the same as scored reviews with verdicts greater than or equal to 75 / 100, and generally unfavorable reviews are treated the same as scored reviews with verdicts less than 75 / 100.

 

Some outlets classify their un-scored reviews according to custom criteria. ACG, for example, uses a ‘Buy, Wait For Sale, Rent, Never Touch’ scale. For this outlet, games marked as ‘Buy’ are considered ‘recommended’; otherwise they are considered ‘not recommended.’ Similarly, Eurogamer classifies games as ‘essential,’ ‘recommended,’ or ‘avoid.’ Reviews marked as ‘essential’ or ‘recommended’ are considered ‘recommended’; reviews marked as ‘avoid’ are considered ‘not recommended’; and reviews with no verdict are considered ‘recommended’ if they generally recommend the game to a general audience (as opposed to a niche audience) without serious preconditions.

 

The general rule, is this: so long as the outlet generally recommends the game without serious conditions, the MetaMeter considers it ‘recommended’; and where that answer is ambiguous, the game is given the benefit of the doubt. As an aside, note that un-scored early reviews from outlets that traditionally score reviews (e.g., IGN) are also evaluated under this framework.

No, and there are no plans to do so in the future. VSG values the opinion of our audience, but user reviews tend to be a dumpster fire. They are generally useless, highly misleading, and simply do not meet our standards for inclusion into the MetaMeter.

The MetaMeter is designed as a measurement of critic consensus, and the binary decision it produces (Play It vs. Skip It) is analogous to the binary decision facing consumers (to buy or not to buy). But because the MetaMeter is a binary scale, it has limitations, one of which is that all games above or below the 70% threshold for recommendation are treated the same.

 

To illustrate, consider these three games: Sniper Elite 4 (72%), Gravity Rush 2 (87%), and Persona 5 (99%). Because each title received more than the minimum threshold, each game earned a recommendation from the MetaMeter. It is difficult to argue that they are comparable, however. Sniper Elite 4 might be a good game, but it’s not in the same ballpark as Gravity Rush 2; and while Gravity Rush 2’s 87% MetaMeter score is impressive, that doesn’t mean it’s comparable to Persona 5. VSG’s medal system accounts for this, helping consumers differentiate between the good games and the truly great games.

 

Whether a game receives one of the four available medals – Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum – is dependent upon, first, whether the game receives a MetaMeter recommendation and, second, what the Average Critic Score (ACS) for that game is. The ACS is calculated exactly as it sounds – it’s the simple average of all scored reviews, no weighting applied – and rating tiers are determined by where that score falls under the following framework:

  • Bronze (75-79.99) – Games with an Average Critic Score greater than 75 but less than 80.
  • Silver (80-85.99) – Games with a MetaMeter recommendation and an Average Critic Score greater or equal to 80 but less than 86.
  • Gold (86-91.99) – Games with a MetaMeter recommendation and an Average Critic Score greater or equal to 86 but less than 92.
  • Platinum (>92) – Games with a MetaMeter recommendation and an Average Critic Score greater than 92.

Where a publication issues multiple reviews for the same game, VSG may (at our discretion) treat those reviews as distinct data points, so long as they are unique. A more common occurrence comes in the form of updated reviews; in this situation, the updated review replaces the legacy review.

 

A thornier issue rears its head where a publication publishes separate reviews for the PvP and PvE components of a game (e.g., as IGN does for the Call of Duty franchise). In this situation, it is not fair – to the developer, to the reviewer, to the consumer – to average those scores together. Because of that, those reviews (while technically scored) are treated as un-scored reviews and batched according to the ‘generally favorable’ rubric used for un-scored reviews.

Scored reviews are considered "recommended" when they score the game at or above 75 out of 100 (normalized). Why did VSG set the threshold at 75? After extensive testing and deliberation, we believe that it strikes a good middle ground, and accurately reflects the sentiment on most outlets' scored ratings scales. VSG believes that there is not enough time in the world to play everything, so you should only purchase games actually worth playing.

VSG ranks covered games according to an Adjusted Score, which provides a "Bayesian estimate" taking into account the number of reviews each game has received, the minimum number of reviews for a MetaMeter Score, and the Average Critic Score for all covered games. The specific formula used is as follows:

 

Adjusted Score (AS) = (r / ( r + m)) x A + (m / (r + m)) x C

 

Where

  • A = Average Critic Score for the game
  • r = number of reviews for the game
  • m = minimum number of reviews for a MetaMeter Score (currently 15)
  • C = the mean Average Critic Score across the entire VSG database

Hundreds of games have been covered by VSG. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that VSG is selective about the games it covers, and does not endeavor to score every game released on every platform. At this point, hundreds. When VSG launched in 2018, the goal was to establish a content/data baseline as a proof of concept, and that led to VSG focusing only on titles released on or after January 1, 2017. Games released prior to January 1, 2017 – in particular, games that continue to have an impact on the industry (e.g., Minecraft, Bloodborne) – will be added to the library on a rolling basis.

Have another question? Contact VSG.

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