With Rainbow Six Siege Ubisoft pulled off an all too rare feat in the game industry – a pretty successful launch across all major platforms; there were no show stopper bugs, no game stopping server issues, and no massive day 1 patch. With the final release version they also released a product with enough content to silence one of my own fears after seeing it at E3 earlier in the year – that without a single player campaign there would not be enough content to keep the full spectrum of shooter gamers content.
So if the launch has been so successful, and there’s no denying that Rainbow Six Siege really is fun to play, why is it currently sitting with a user rating of 70% on metacritic (putting it into the mixed or average range) – even when the general vibe around the game is much more positive, and the gaming press rank it considerably higher at 78%?
When I looked deeper at the reasons for what is quite obviously a score out of pace with the quality of the game, I found an analogy with what happens on the biggest review site on the planet – Amazon. Amazon is the worlds biggest e-retailer and a massive part of their selling strategy is to give a lot of screen real estate to user reviews. Anyone who has bought from Amazon and has read at least some user reviews will have quickly realised there is an issue, a major issue, that as yet is unaddressed. The same issue can be seen in the gaming world on review sites such as metacritic – a vocal minority can disproportionately affect the overall rating.
How do they do this?
They do it by giving a product a zero score for an invalid reason, and because review meta scores are calculated from a simple averaging of scores, these “to make a point” zero scores can devastate a games overall ranking.
Let’s firstly look at why the Amazon analogy demonstrates how metacritic scores for Rainbow Six Siege portray a false representation of user satisfaction. The major issue here is perhaps demonstrated with a couple of real world examples using PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles to demonstrate why average scores are something to be wary of. If we can all agree for the sake of this article that both the Xbox One and PS4 are great gaming platforms, you would expect that depending on an individual consumers experience, that the ratings for both consoles would be consistently high. However if you were to take just a cursory look at the low scores, you would find many examples such as this…
“Took over a week to arrive and when it did it had a foreign plug”
Rating awarded 1 out of 5 (20%)
Or this example from Amazon.com
“Excellent product. Do not expect it on the promised delivery date, add 3-5 days for an accurate estimate.”
Rating awarded 1 out of 5 (20%)
Just two examples where not only is the rating assigned on factors that are nothing to do with the console, but in one example the reviewer admits the console is an “excellent product”, but only rates it at 20% because the delivery was not as expected!
How This Affects Rainbow Six Siege Meta Scores
This issue of Amazon customer review ratings being marked down because of factors other than the product quality, is replicated at Metacritic. In the case of Rainbow Six Siege there is a very clear pattern to these unrepresentative scores, which in many cases are zero – and they come from old school Rainbow Six gamers.
Here’s one example of a disproportionate review from Metacritic…
“No iconic Rainbow six campaign. Hardly the “tactical masterpiece” it has been praised for. It’s a good game”
Rating awarded 2 out of 10 (20%)
In this case, the gamer thought it was a “good game”, but the score he awarded was only 2 out of 10 (20%).
The game itself is pretty good (9/10), but….
Rating awarded 4 out of 10 (40%)
The negative reviews are absolutely laden with comments such as this where fans of the series are so disheartened and disappointed with their perception that the series has strayed too far from the original, that they have allowed this perception to stop them from enjoying what is actually a very enjoyable shooter – as evidenced by the many more positive reviews, such as these…
a thinking man’s shooter
Finally FPS which requires usage of brain
really cool team action
Intense and punishing tactical-squad based shooter
Why It’s Wrong to Penalise Siege
There are many examples of gamers marking Siege down due to perceptions about it’s space in the series, and I think it’s a shame. At AGR-S.com we’ve been supporting the Rainbow Six series since the beginning. Like many others I found the planning phase and the whole tactical aspect to Rainbow Six gameplay a fantastic challenge and very rewarding. Am I disappointed there’s no planning phase in the Siege? Yes, a little, but I can get my planning phase fix from Epsilon by Serellan. Am I disappointed there’s no story driven campaign in Siege? Yes, quite a bit! Am I disappointed that tactical gameplay has disappeared from the series? NO! Because that just is not true at all, and here’s why.
If like me you were jumping from server to server working your way up the Siege ranks as quickly as possible in order to spend your renown on your characters, then yes, it probably did not involve a tonne of tactics and strategy. Some people like their shooter gameplay like that, and if that’s what you are looking for then more power to you. However, once the race to rank up starts to die down, and squads begin to form, the comms and the tactics and the methodical strategic gameplay starts to come into its own – Siege starts to morph into a different game altogether; teamwork becomes paramount, and tactics essential. Now we are talking about a Rainbow Six title.
When I hooked up with some of my gamer pals from Legion of Sparta to play some Siege Terror Hunt for the first time, it was fantastic how quickly we took on our roles, just like we did back in the day. Slow approaches, cover the arcs, watching 6, really working as a team. I cannot recommend highly enough that anyone dismissing Siege as not being tactical should seek out and join a group of tactical gamers, pull down that mic, and start enjoying Siege for what it is – a great game that stands on it’s own in today’s crowded shooter genre.
In many respects Siege excels and takes the tactical challenge to a new level thanks to the advances in enemy AI, and the destructible environments. I remember taking up the six position in many of the previous games, and although covering six is an important role, you would normally end the round with the least action and lowest kills. Not necessarily so in Siege. The enemies can come at you from any angle, and the level design and destructible environment means that they quite often do. Because of this, covering six can actually be one of the most challenging roles in the team.
Getting back to the main point though, down-rating Rainbow Six Siege because it is not true to it’s lineage is wrong. It is clear that this is the reason however, that Rainbow Siege Siege currently sits with less than 80% user rating at metacritic. It’s wrong because in many respects Siege IS a true and valid Rainbow Six title, and secondly because this extreme down rating is no better than the previous Amazon examples – it’s just plain irrelevant to the game being rated. As mattshotcha pointed out to me, once you start to take account of bitter reviews, you’re in effect adding 10% to the published user review score.
Rate the game for what it is, not what it isn’t. Play it for what it is, and you will be rewarded!
If you like numbers and graphs and are interested in Metacritic’s scoring methodology, see this PDF paper by the Xentax Foundation.