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8.8

"Literally, we've got a half dozen perfect scores and I've also gotten the lowest scores I've ever gotten on any game I've ever worked on. Of course you want everybody to think you made the best game ever, but if we were trending at something like an 8 out of 10? I'd probably have to kill myself."
Warren Spector on Epic Mickey's reception.

8.8 is a fan speak term that describes the stir created in the video game community when a high profile game receives an unexpected review score by a major reviewer, especially when it significantly differs from the general consensus. This is especially jarring because professional video game reviewers tend to give out very similar scores.

The name comes from the unimaginable havoc created by GameSpot's review of the Wii version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess in November 2006, which awarded the game a great-but-not-amazing score of 8.8 out of 10. The Internet erupted in anger and chaos, as the game was one of the most anticipated games of all time, and near-perfect/perfect scores were expected. Ironically, GameSpot gave the GameCube version of the game a score of 8.9.

Whether or not an 8.8 furor is justified is up for debate. On the one hand, a reviewer shouldn't just automatically go along with the crowd, even for nigh-universally-loved games. On the other, sometimes you get the feeling that they're doing it intentionally to create controversy and attract attention or forgot to do their research on the subject.

Gamers, reviewers and publishers, all share the blame equally for allowing these controversies to arise. Angry gamers pile the pressure on reviewers to award high profile titles higher scores, often forcing editors of video games magazines to revise their scores, and striping themselves of all credibility in the process. NGC magazine once gave Star Fox Adventures a mediocre score. They received so much backlash, eventually they conceded and jokingly included a perfect score sticker to apply over the original score, if it upset them that much.

Reviewers in the past have casually handed out perfect 10/10 scores like they were nothing, praising a video game endlessly which gives their readers a false-sense of expectation. Publishers force journalists to award 10 out of 10, by applying external pressure to get those perfect scores. Scores that are 'fair', 'good' and 'great' are no longer acceptable. They along with any form of critique, are seen as undesirable.

Sometimes you get the feeling that 8.8 situations are simply the fans are making a mountain out of a molehill. It's worth noting that reviews tend to be published a day or two before the game is actually released, meaning that many people are decrying the score awarded to a game they haven't yet played themselves. Such is the behavior of a console or series' fanboy: complaining about people not liking the show. Naturally caused by the fact that many gamers believe that reviews are the gospel. Might lead to a situation where fans will dislike the reviewer.

Often, the score may be controversial because it adversely affects the game's overall average score on review compendium sites such as GameRankings and Metacritic. Alternatively, animosity can be generated from detractors of the game who all act as if the low score is the only "correct" one, so no matter how many good reviews it got, if a major reviewer says it's not that great, it's officially a rubbish game.

There is some internal logic to this and related tropes, however, as far as video game developers are concerned. There is evidence of a correlation that good reviews will in fact drive sales. In one study, three groups of people were to read a (fake) review of and then play the game Plants vs. Zombies for 45 minutes; at the end of the session, they could either take 10 bucks or a free copy of the game. The group that was given reviews that were positive tended to take the free copy. Those that were given reviews that were negative (or unflattering) tended to take the 10 bucks instead.

This video provides a good explanation of this and its faults.

See four point scale for an explanation of why 8.8 out of 10 would be considered a low score. See also critical dissonance.

This defines a fan speak term. No examples, please.


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