While Amazon was out making public waves earlier this week with the announcement of their Fire TV streaming device and game console, the popular online retailer also made smaller waves with a new site feature. There’s no guarantee it’s permanent, but Amazon has added Metacritic scores to many of its product pages.

Although it might seem like an innocuous addition — a chance for Amazon to give consumers a little better idea about the quality of a product — many are disappointed by the decision. Not to decision to include better rankings, mind you, but the choice of Metacritic as a quality indicator.

Obviously, since Metacritic currently only ranks movies, TV, and video games, not every Amazon consumer will see the rankings. But those that do, however, might look at the score of a particular game and make a purchase based solely on that score. Conversely they might choose not to purchase a game because the score is low.

However, in a lot cases, Metacritic’s tabulation of an individual score and the actual score implied by a critic are not always one-to-one. They are not as bad as, says, Rotten Tomatoes, who boil down a review score to “Fresh” or “Rotten,” but the system does have its flaws. For instance, sites that don’t use Metacritic’s 100-point scale will have their score changed in order to fit within that scale. So a game that receives a 3/5, for example, becomes a 60/100 on Metacritic’s scale.

The issue gets a little more hairy, though, when Metacritic tries to incorporate scores like letter grades, or ones that are not on a scale divisible by five, into the aggregate. Then Metacritic has to make some adjustments that might alter the actual quality implied by the score. And then when Metacritic creates its final average, that score might be swayed by those “altered” scores. All in all, there are people who swear by Metacritic and those who outright dismiss it.

It’s a pretty complicated, but ultimately small, issue, but Amazon’s heart is obviously in the right place with the inclusion of Metacritic scores. As any quick perusal of the Amazon user rankings will tell you that oftentimes the average consumer cannot be trusted to give an honest opinion, even users on Metacritic have been known to have ulterior motives when scoring. So, at the very least, now these consumers can find out what a critic thinks of the product. It’s basically a second opinion. That being said, we’ll see whether Amazon sticks to their plan, or if the backlash forces them to remove the Metacritic scores.

Do you think Amazon adding Metacritic scores to its product pages is a good thing? Will it help or hurt sales of games with mediocre scores?

Source: Ars Technica

tags: Amazon