When Did Average Become A Bad Thing?

It seems that within recent years players and reviewers alike have become way too fickle for their own good.
Lately, if a game is anything less than perfect (or deemed so, at least), with scores in the 9/10’s, it’s fast regarded a failure. Case in point, I picked up a copy of Dark Void over the weekend. Initially, I was looking forward to this one  because I was a huge fan of Crimson Skies, the previous game made by several members of Void’s team. When it came out though, I stayed away because the general consensus was that the game wasn’t very good. If memory serves, the kindest review came from Giant Bomb.
Cut to me picking up the game this weekend. I can see that the game has issues in several regards, and if I was reviewing this game on a scale of 5, I’d give it a 3 (average all around). That being said, as a game centered around aerial combat and ground/cover combat, I don’t know what people were expecting from this one. It delivers on both fronts, and the result is an enjoyable experience for fans of either genre despite it’s flaws.  One that’s worth checking out, I’d say.
Dark Void is just one of several releases in recent years to fall into this pit. Regardless of the fact that it didn’t get negative reviews per se, as the people reviewing it still seemed to have an enjoyable experience, there’s this aura of “eww” that surrounds it these days (literally, I heard a famed and respected game reviewer say eww when Void came up in conversation). The problem with this trend (besides the inflated sense of entitlement we all seem to be guilty of), is that when perfection becomes expected (demanded), those that develop anything less are often taken out behind the shed before they’re allowed to grow and develop as game makers.
Pandemic Studios were a great example of this. Mercenaries 2? Not so good. The Saboteur? Far better, but still not deemed an amazing game. The result? A studio that was clearly showing signs of growth and improvement, was shut down. My fear is that this pattern is quickly becoming the norm, and I think we’re very quickly going to find ourselves running out of fresh voices and concepts. Games should sometimes be allowed to be average, if only to allow developers and studios the opportunity to find themselves.
Just because it’s not God Of War 3, or Limbo, doesn’t mean it’s not worth playing.
  • Alnilam

    I don’t know that average is bad. The thing is, with so many games out there, you are really competing for gamers’ time.

    I try not to buy games if I don’t think I’ll spend at least 60 hours playing them. I also like to finish what I start. But somehow, I still end up buying more games than I can play…

    And reviews are overrated. If a friend tells me I’ll like the game, I’ll try it out, no matter what the reviews say.

  • Amen brother. I would even say more recently, that while reading reviews about ‘Alan Wake’ and seeing a lot of reviewers and people didn’t enjoy the game, and lackluster sales and blah blah. But really that game was a wonderful departure for me personally from the norm of AAA titles that are on the market right now.

    Personally I think ‘Alan Wake’ gets laid with the “average” game score such as Dark Void and Saboteur but these games are really top notch, and waaaay above average.

  • Nathan Hardisty (Bananahs)

    Average is bad because it is average, a standard which should be lifted.

  • I don’t know why average is bad. Many times I’ve played a game that was considered bad or ok and I really enjoyed it. One I can always name off the top of my head is Alone in the Dark. not many liked it but I really enjoyed it. Sure it had some problems and the ending was drawn out but I personally liked it. I rarely read reviews anymore to decide whether or not I should get a game. If I read a review, it’s while I’m already playing the game to get a second opinion or after I’ve beat it to see what someone else thought.