A PC Perspective on Gaming: How We Rank Games

Subject: Editorial | April 18, 2013 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: games

So, news which might excite our readers: we are going to try reviewing video games.

Of course, the first thing which needs to be addressed when reviewing games is our grading system. Games, in particular, are a very artful medium and as such it does not entirely make sense to quantize its qualities.

The simple answer is, we will not.

Step back and consider how we review hardware: we run some benchmarks, we discuss the features in often numbing detail, and we assign an award-badge to the product according to our opinion. A hardware could receive no merit; it could receive a bronze, silver, or gold medal; finally, the truly extraordinary products will receive an Editor's Choice Award. If you think about it, these can transfer quite easily to video game reviews.

Our expectation is to apply two ratings to every review: a badge and a number.

A badge is very good at qualifying our assessment of a product whereas numerical scores are very good at quantifying a derivable value. We, collectively as PC gamers, have certain expectations for games and they usually demand more than the impressions of a typical console gamer. Simultaneously, we tend to be an afterthought for a lot of titles; yes, I am being generous even with that statement. Many games are outright broken, crippled by DRM, or otherwise demonstrate in very obvious terms that our money is somehow inferior. On the other hand, there are games which go above and beyond reasonable expectations held by PC gamers, and even some unreasonable ones, and are rarely hailed for it.

We are not able to judge the artistic qualities of a game using a numerical score, but we can judge its technical merits using a numerical rubric.

And so exists our planned review metric. The main point is that there will not be any definite rank-order to each game, at least from an artistic standpoint. A game is allowed to really well on one category and really terribly on another. If you are concerned with the game itself, keep more of an eye toward which award we gave it. If you are concerned about how well the game exists as a PC title, take a look at the numerical score.

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There are of course caveats to this method. A viewer who looks solely at the numerical score will not know much, if anything, about the game itself. The numerical score is just a gauge for the level of effort put into the PC version.

Then again, would you expect any less from a website called "PC Perspective" which reviews products with a blend of explanation of its qualitative features mixed in with strict quantitative benchmarking?

Lastly, this is not about whether a game is "better" on a PC or on a console. Developers are free to focus on whatever platform they desire. A game designed around a console and ported to the PC will still get a great score if the finished result exhibits a "great" level of care. Likewise, even if your game is PC-exclusive, do not expect us to give it a great score if it cannot alt-tab worth a damn and is wrapped in DRM which roots our system using kernel-mode drivers.

It is not particularly hard to make a great PC experience, all it takes is effort. Fortunately, that is a property that we can assign an honest grade to.

We would really like to hear your feedback on this. Drop a line in the comments below!

April 18, 2013 | 03:20 PM - Posted by Travis (not verified)

Not ranking games is definitely the correct decision. Can't wait to see a review. What game is first on the slate?

April 18, 2013 | 04:58 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Heart of the Swarm is getting editted; Bioshock: Infinite needs some filming and, if an idea is viable, animation.

You won't have to wait long, though.

April 18, 2013 | 10:12 PM - Posted by nabokovfan87

I think the best "FIRST" game you guys look at should be metro. (new or old.)

April 18, 2013 | 04:33 PM - Posted by razor512

Please take away points or lower review stores for games which have annoying crap like unskippable intro videos/ logos in addition to DRM

Regardless of how convenient any DRM feels, if it requires any type of online activation or connectivity then it should automatically have a major point deduction.

What are you going to do when the game company goes out of business or decide to kill the DRM servers? Well if your game needs only a online activation then you will never be able to reinstall the game ever again or it will not activate.

And if the game requires a constant connection, or periodic checks, then once the company dies, then your games will stop working either instantly or shortly after.

Online DRM= bad 100% of the time, no matter how transparent they may make it seem.

How many games do you own where the company that made it is no longer in business or no longer has their servers up?

April 18, 2013 | 05:07 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

This is a concern that I've been ranting about for years. It's one of the arguments I have against Windows Store; it is the driving cause of fear that Microsoft plans to deprecate the desktop; and it is the main reason why I like Linux. If something was truly of cultural relevance, allow society to preserve it.

This is especially true because breaking DRM is (until judges or the Librarian of Congress rule otherwise) a felony... even after the copyright expires and the content enters the public domain.

So yes, this will be a big factor in my review... although some level of DRM will not completely bomb a numerical score. It is still somewhat a balacing act... but at least it can be reasonably quantified by some rubric.

April 18, 2013 | 04:54 PM - Posted by Numbers Guy (not verified)

All I want is a number. What is wrong with a number?

April 18, 2013 | 05:01 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

There is no "better" or "worse" when it comes to art. It is an experience. For that, we badge a recommendation.

There is "better" or "worse" when it comes to development effort. For that, we will assign a number grade to praise or punish how much or how little a developer or publisher cares.

And yes, I like to deadpan jokes :3

April 18, 2013 | 06:46 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

42

There ya go

April 19, 2013 | 10:10 AM - Posted by timmyisme22

On a scale of 1 to 100, 42 is always highest. Love it.

April 18, 2013 | 06:11 PM - Posted by Thomaskk (not verified)

Planetside 2 u gotta check out. Review that as it has changed so much since it's release. And lots of fun boys will get the traffic up. Also maybe what short benchmark on the games u review. So u have a small section on what runs it the best

April 18, 2013 | 06:36 PM - Posted by Alex R (not verified)

I like the idea of the 2 factor grading scheme. I would offer the caveat that since it's non-standard, the uninformed will come along and either be confused by it or mis-interpret it, if the nature of each grade isn't made clear. If it takes more than 5 seconds to explain the difference or it's not instantly apparent via a graphical medium most people won't care to figure it out.

Also I wonder how a games performance at launch vs post-driver patch will affect the latter grade. Will a game's PC score be lowered if it doesn't perform well on a driver that won't be updated for a few days? Or will that metric be exclusively for how native-PC this game feels?

April 19, 2013 | 04:30 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Thanks for the feedback!

Yeah there are a lot of caveats to systems like this. I *do* intend on making it quite clear, especially in the written review. I will try to be careful.

April 18, 2013 | 10:09 PM - Posted by nabokovfan87

If you did a review "scale" of the following it would work

6. "No Comment" (Games that are just flat out bad.)
5. [No Badge] (middle of the road games)
4. Bronze (Games with more then typical issues, but something about them keeps them being fun/interesting or "good")
3. Silver (Games with some issues to limit them from the gold, but overall playable and enjoyable)
2. Gold (Games well optimized for the platform and overall "good games")
1. Editor's Choice (genre changing/defining type games)

Sidenote, if you are looking for someone to review some things, be more them happy to submit some work. I don't have time to play a metric ton of games, but the ones I do play may be older and worth a "look" for the readers. Occasionally I play the new stuff.

April 19, 2013 | 05:05 AM - Posted by Sublym3 (not verified)

No badges and no numbers

Keep it simple

1. Buy
2. Bargin Bin/Sale
3. Don't buy

(Could add Pirate but that might be an issue)

And in regards to above comments DRM should not affect a score.

April 19, 2013 | 08:44 AM - Posted by BiggieShady

I love the idea, quantify what's quantifiable and describe the rest :D

April 19, 2013 | 11:11 AM - Posted by Brokenstorm

I hope you will deduct points for games that block media key and global shortcuts. Same thing for game that don't allow fullscreen borderless window.
Also I hate when games put their setting and save games in the install folder instead than in the "saved games" folder.

April 20, 2013 | 04:08 AM - Posted by capawesome9870 (not verified)

could u do a benchmark/article on the best CPU and GPU combos.

what i mean is to test 4-6 AMD and 4-6 Intel CPUs with 4-6 AMD and 4-6 Nvidia. (8 different CPUs all being tested with 8 different GPUs).

i do know that it will be a lot of test (64 if u do 8 of each), but no one ever does a full range of tests to see which CPU and GPU work best for each other, and when upgrading over the recommend is not worth it.

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