Game Freaks 365 is moving to a 5-point review scale. Here’s why.

If you have read one of our recent reviews, you may have noticed something different: review scores are no longer out of a possible 10 points.

That’s because we moved to a 5-point scale last week to coincide with our recent inclusion on OpenCritic. We figured that given that our reviews would soon be indexed on a large review aggregator, it was as good a time as ever to change.

It’s something that we have been considering for a long time. Frankly, it was more a matter of finding the right time to implement the changes than anything. That being said, we’ve debated the merits of a change (or the more radical move of completely removing scores). I would like to take the time to explain why a five-point scale makes more sense for us.

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What’s the point of a review?

The biggest question that we asked ourselves is this: what do we hope to accomplish with our reviews? Are we rating games based on their artistic value? Are we rating games based on their fun factor? Or maybe we are rating games based on their value as a product for a consumer?

Actually, all of the above is true, at least here at Game Freaks 365. We view video games as an artistic endeavor but also as a fun escape from everyday life. And at least speaking for myself, I don’t even consider a game purchase without weighing whether the cost is worth the benefits – whether the benefit is entertainment value, personal pleasure, or social in nature.

The bottom line: we try to capture all of these things in a number, which is difficult. And while we could break it down into various category scores – which we did in the past – one simple and clean score combined with the content of the review should inform readers.

Using the whole scale

It’s hard to inform readers when the rating scale is ambiguous. What does a 9 out of 10 mean vis-a-vis an 8 out of 10, a 7 out of 10, a 5 out of 10? Of course, it’s possible to define what these scores mean on our site, but that interpretation will not be universally accepted, especially when it is aggregated with the reviews of other publications.

Another issue often arose. We always had a tendency to ignore almost half of the rating scale. Our 10-point scale essentially treated a 7 as average. We almost never gave a game a 10 and rarely gave anything below a 5.

In fact, essentially, we already were acting as if it was a 5-point scale – only using scores between 5 and 10 the vast majority of the time – but we still denoted our reviews on a 10-point scale. This makes no logical sense. A change was needed.

Explaining our new 5-point scale

We are adopting the 5-point scale, at least in part, so that we will use the entire range of the scale. The scores will range from 1 to 5 based on the quality and value of the game. For clarity’s sake, we will be adding an explanation to all of our reviews detailing what our scores mean.

In the meantime, let me briefly define each score:

1 out of 5: Virtually unplayable; avoid these games at all costs.

2 out of 5: Worse than average; hardcore fans of the series or genre might get pleasure out of it, but a general audience likely will not. Most people can safely avoid these titles. At best, pick these up during a sale.

3 out of 5: Average; generally speaking, games that have fairly broad appeal but are nothing to write home about will receive this score. These are worth playing, but how much you should pay for them is questionable.

4 out of 5: Better than average; these games stand out from the rest of the pack. They may have flaws, but the issues are relatively minor. Put these titles near the top of your wishlist.

5 out of 5: Exceptional; games that earn a perfect score from us may not be perfect but they are a masterpiece in our book. Simply put, these games are the best of the best. These are safe buys.

Games may fall somewhere in-between these scores, although the only fractions that we allow are half points. In other words, a game can receive a 2.5 or a 3 but not a 2.7. This policy gives us some wiggle room without pretending that there is a scientific method of rating a video game.