The Elusive Perfect 10: Does Any Game Deserve It?

What's in a "perfect score," anyway? It's all subjective.

What’s in a “perfect score,” anyway? It’s all subjective.

The perfect “10.” It’s an endless source of controversy so when a game pulls down this supposedly “flawless” score from any significant source, it incites a firestorm of argument.

The question is: Does any game really deserve a so-called perfect score? The explanation from most critics and sources is that their highest score doesn’t imply absolute perfection, because they know that nothing is perfect. No game is flawless (well, maybe Tetris). However, no matter how many times they explain this to the gaming public, the controversy surrounding the “10” remains intact.

There’s subjectivity to any scoring scale. That’s a given. No matter what your scale is, there’s going to be a maximum possible score, right? That could be a standard 10 out of 10, or it could be 100 out of 100, five out of five stars, an A+, whatever. That all being said, because this industry has long since accepted the 10-point scale, it’s the 10 that always seems to get the biggest reaction.

10-point scale

And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe if we didn’t operate on a seriously skewed 10-point scale – which may will claim is broken, as critics never really use the bottom half of that scale – this wouldn’t be such an issue. Perhaps a simple four- or five-star system would work better because the most amount of stars possible doesn’t scream “perfection,” for some reason. Film fanatics and gourmet buffs don’t see a four-star rating for a movie or a restaurant as “perfect.” They just know it’s the creme de la creme, right?

That’s really what any perfect score in the entertainment world should indicate. We just can’t seem to drive it into the heads of gamers that in fact, a 10 doesn’t mean the game has zero problems. Because it causes such a ruckus, we know of many critics who simply won’t use the perfect score because they face immediate accusations of bias. Several reviewers have said to us, “I don’t like giving a perfect score because everyone just freaks out and calls me a fanboy because I think a game is ‘perfect.'” And of course, he never meant that 10 to be taken as literally perfect.

It’s not an easy situation, to be sure. Maybe until gamers figure this out, critics really shouldn’t hand out any perfect scores. Nobody seems to understand what they really mean, and they certainly don’t take the time to check out a source’s review guidelines. For the time being, maybe critics who give a game a perfect score need to put a disclaimer right at the start: “For the record, this score does not mean the game in question is flawless.”

6 thoughts on “The Elusive Perfect 10: Does Any Game Deserve It?”

It’s ridiculous that so many gamers just don’t get this. A 10 NEVER means “perfect.” Not from any source. The only people who complain about a critic being a “fanboy” because they gave a game a 10 are people who are totally clueless.

Well, I’ve never liked the 10-point scale anyway. I don’t like scores at all in fact.

Like I said below, I sort of agree, but scores are a HUGE part of the industry now. Get rid of the scores and I’m afraid it would be a huge economic blow. Nobody freakin’ reads anymore, remember.

No such thing as a “perfect” score, obviously. Just depends on a critic’s criteria. As far as I’m concerned, though, the maximum score should always be extremely difficult to get, no matter what.

I’ve played a few games I think are worthy of the maximum score, whether it’s a 10 or 5 stars or whatever. But only a VERY few. I think Cloud is right; it has to be wicked tough for any game to hit that lofty status.

Once critics start giving away 10s like candy, everything goes to pot. 🙂

Games shouldn’t get scores but then again, those scores are fast reference points for consumers. You can’t discount the importance of that.

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