According to the Dubious Quality blog, videogame media network 1Up gives sports games higher scores than most other review outlets.
Electronic Arts Chief Executive Officer John Riccitiello remarked a month ago, "All Metacritics were higher once upon a time because it was ten professionals rating them. Now, sort of anybody with a pen can rate them and it ends up with a bit of a wider track some times."
Bill Harris, the writer behind Dubious Quality, was inspired by this quote to research the variation between review scores from the major game media (Electronic Gaming Monthly, Gamespot, IGN and Gamespy) and the smaller Metacritic-approved review sites.
In his original report, Harris found almost no difference between scores given for EA Sports games from 2000 to 2008 by the four "professional" reviewers and the Metacritic average based on twenty or so combined sources. Additionally, EA scores over the eight-year period dropped twelve points out of 100, causing Harris to sound the "Great Horn of Bullshit" on Riccitiello's statements that average people with pens were hurting EA's ratings. No, Mr. Riccitiello, magazines and small blogs both agree: EA games stink more each year.
"When we can play a game and find glaring issues within hours, issues that no one would even dispute, then something is wrong with your development process. Maybe you should look at that instead of the quality of today's reviewers," stated Harris.
Upon reviewing his report and a recent "A" score for EA's Tiger Woods 09, Harris realized that he hadn't covered 1Up's reviews due to the site's lack of information compared to the other four outlets (the 1Up website was launched in 2003 and has undergone numerous revisions). After tallying 1Up reviews from 2007 and 2008 for EA Sports, Harris found 1Up's scores to be 8.5 points higher than the Metacritic average and in the top 15 percentile of all reviews. Non-EA games still scored five points above the mean.
GameSpot, whose editorial direction was questioned during the Gerstmann-gate scandal, was actually the most accurate destination. Its average reviews varied 2.13 below Metacritic's scores.
It's worth noting the 1Up Network shares many staff and editorial writers with EGM, another Ziff Davis property, which had a review average lower than Metacritic. It's therefore possible that 1Up simply uses reviewers for sports games who are predisposed to liking the genre.