Obsidian Lost Bonus for Fallout: New Vegas by One Metacritic Point

Mike Kayatta

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Aug 2, 2011
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Obsidian Lost Bonus for Fallout: New Vegas by One Metacritic Point



If sites like "Armchair Empire" and "Gamekult" had rated the game just a teensy bit higher, Obsidian would have walked away with a financial bonus for its work on New Vegas.

Deals between game publishers and developers are just as varied as one might find in any other production business, though the details that comprise them often never come to light. In the case of Fallout: New Vegas, the community recently got some rare insight from Chris Avellone, the co-owner of Obsidian, as to the nature of their arrangement with publisher Bethesda. According to a recent Tweet, his company's work on the post-apocalyptic RPG was to be a one-time payment unless the game garnered a positive response on review aggregator Metacritic.

"[Fallout: New Vegas] was a straight payment, no royalties, only a bonus if we got an 85+ on Metacritic, which we didn't," Avellone wrote. If you're a fan of New Vegas, or of people getting paid well for hard work, this admission is made more poignantly gloomy by the fact that it reached an 84, just one point away from the extra compensation. The bonus was likely a big deal for Obsidian, considering that the developer doesn't see one cent on a per sale basis.

Avellone's disclosure comes just one day after the reported wave of Obsidian staff layoffs, said to include over thirty people, some of who were reportedly just hired between one and seven days before the sweep. The firings came joined with the news that the studio had cancelled development on a next-gen project (codenamed "North Carolina") and its continued progress on the recently announced South Park RPG remains unclear.

Source: Joystiq [http://www.joystiq.com/2012/03/15/obsidian-missed-fallout-new-vegas-metacritic-bonus-by-one-point/]

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Fappy

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Jan 4, 2010
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What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.
 

Orange12345

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from now on every single game reviewer should give every game a 10/10, just write a honest review and give the game a ten regardless of what was actually said in the written review.
 

Falseprophet

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Fappy said:
What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.
Agreed. Why wouldn't you reward a bonus for sales? You know, the metric every other IP-based industry uses for success? I thought this was capitalism, not a popularity contest.
 

Tireseas_v1legacy

Plop plop plop
Sep 28, 2009
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Fappy said:
What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.
Quality incentives gives the studio reason to polish and perfect the product to a higher grade. Metacritic, being an aggregate of multiple other review scores, provides the closest thing to an objective measurement of quality. In other words, 1 or 2 abnormal score (high or low) could be a simply an abnormal instance, reviewer bias, or even bribery, but an aggregate score provides a more effective total view of the game in the eyes of reviewers.

My concern would be a publisher, in a close case like this, could bribe a single or few reviewers in order to push the score below the threshold in order to screw over a studio out of a bonus.

EDIT:
Falseprophet said:
Fappy said:
What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.
Agreed. Why wouldn't you reward a bonus for sales? You know, the metric every other IP-based industry uses for success? I thought this was capitalism, not a popularity contest.
Because the publisher is in charge of sales. You never put the power to reward based on sales in the hands of someone who determines sales. You'd end up with the publisher purposely shipping a lower than threshold number to screw over the studio.
 

Odin311

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Do you think that there was some backdoor deals to keep the score down to not have to pay the bonuses?
 

wolfister

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I honestly can't find a way to accurately describe how much bullshit this truly is. Seriously what kind of fucked up deal is this, it is honestly like a teacher saying to a class' "well if the average curve of the test grades are above 85 there will be bonus points awarded." Metacritic is more for the consumer not the developer it's where you go so you can easily access reviews from many different sources, the average is just that an average and averages can be screwed up easily with just a few extremely low numbers.

/rant end.
 

Roserari

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Jul 11, 2011
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Imagine if Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 didn't have high metacritic scores. It sold truckloads. But ONE TINY METACRITIC SCORE OFF. No bonus for u!

>_>
 

DustyDrB

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Jan 19, 2010
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The Gentleman said:
Fappy said:
What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.
Quality incentives gives the studio reason to polish and perfect the product to a higher grade. Metacritic, being an aggregate of multiple other review scores, provides the closest thing to an objective measurement of quality. In other words, 1 or 2 abnormal score (high or low) could be a simply an abnormal instance, reviewer bias, or even bribery, but an aggregate score provides a more effective total view of the game in the eyes of reviewers.

My concern would be a publisher, in a close case like this, could bribe a single or few reviewers in order to push the score below the threshold in order to screw over a studio out of a bonus.
Or the publisher could be in charge of QA for the game and drop the ball...

Really, Metacritic should die. It's not its fault that it is used the way it is, but that's something that will never change until it's out of the picture. It's not objective. It's not even close to objective, it's just an illusion of it. It averages opinions. It's just opinion stew.
 

Yopaz

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Jun 3, 2009
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Falseprophet said:
Fappy said:
What kind of backwards bullshit business deal is that? Is this common? For fucks sake gaming industry, forget about Metracritic scores! They are meaningless as many of the publications are bought off anyway (looking at you, Gamespot and IGN). This makes me sick.
Agreed. Why wouldn't you reward a bonus for sales? You know, the metric every other IP-based industry uses for success? I thought this was capitalism, not a popularity contest.
Capitalism isn't a popularity contest now all of a sudden? Did I miss the memo?

Although I have to agree that this should be based on sales not Metacritics scores, or they could at least look into the scores since some sites doesn't have the rating scale from 1-10/1-100. A 4 star review here is considered a great score, but on a scale that goes to 100 it's equivalent to 80.
 

T'Generalissimo

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I find this news and the layoffs so depressing. Obsidian is a studio that would actually benefit so much from growing as a company; if they had enough people to properly test their games and complete everything before the deadline so that there aren't any more obviously rushed endings, I think they would probably be the perfect developer. They would certainly be far and away the best RPG developer.
 

Tireseas_v1legacy

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Sep 28, 2009
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DustyDrB said:
Or the publisher could be in charge of QA for the game and drop the ball...
Quality assurance (i.e. alpha and beta testing) is better handled in house. If something is bad, it takes less time (and therefore, money) to fix if the person finding the problem is already in the studio. The quality clause in this contract (which is what we're referring to) provides an assurance that the product they would be getting is off the minimum desired quality.
DustyDrB said:
Really, Metacritic should die. It's not its fault that it is used the way it is, but that's something that will never change until it's out of the picture. It's not objective. It's not even close to objective, it's just an illusion of it. It averages opinions. It's just opinion stew.
What do you propose in it's place? There has to be something that provides a measurement other than sales to determine the quality of the game. Very high quality games can easily have low sales (see Psychonauts) while low quality games can have massive sales (see Duke Nukem Forever). The problem is that quality is an opinion. I think that Indigo Prophecy is a high quality game and that Skyrim is a medium quality game. There is no objective measurement of quality, ergo, you're going to get a lot of subjective results. A general score determined by the aggregate of hundreds of other scores is the closest you can get to an objective measurement of quality.

Metacritic is what we have now. Until a better system comes along, it is what we have.
 

WanderingFool

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RoseArch said:
Imagine if Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 didn't have high metacritic scores. It sold truckloads. But ONE TINY METACRITIC SCORE OFF. No bonus for u!

>_>
Would anything have changed?

Anyways, This just goes to show that Numerical scores are for reviews can and will fuck people over.
 

Falseprophet

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Yopaz said:
Falseprophet said:
Agreed. Why wouldn't you reward a bonus for sales? You know, the metric every other IP-based industry uses for success? I thought this was capitalism, not a popularity contest.
Capitalism isn't a popularity contest now all of a sudden? Did I miss the memo?
Well let me put it this way: Do you think Justin Bieber's record label cares about all the hate he gets from people who wouldn't buy his albums anyway when he's had three #1 albums and gone double-platinum all over the world?
 

Fappy

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WanderingFool said:
RoseArch said:
Imagine if Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 didn't have high metacritic scores. It sold truckloads. But ONE TINY METACRITIC SCORE OFF. No bonus for u!

>_>
Would anything have changed?

Anyways, This just goes to show that Numerical scores are for reviews can and will fuck people over.
I've hated the scoring system for years. A number tells you nothing and offers no real context.
 

Bloodtrozorx

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I'm just imagining Bethesda execs sitting in a board room looking at the metacritic score for Skyrim and saying "oh well 96, Bonuses for us!"

That's sad though given the number of hours I sank into F:NV I feel they earned a little extra.
 

godofallu

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Jun 8, 2010
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On the one hand fallout NV was a great game.

On the other hand fallout NV was a very buggy game.

I believe that 84 is right around what FO NV deserved. If they needed 70 and they got 69 I would say that's bullshit they deserved the money and a higher score. But it is arguable whether they actually hit a 85 or not, hence can't side one way or the other.

At the end of the day, never leave it in the hands of the judges.