Obsidian Lose Bonuses Over One Metacritic Point

Scoring high on our bullshit meter this week – and undoubtedly giving our Richie some prime rant fodder for his next report – comes the news that Fallout: New Vegas developers, Obsidian, missed out on a chunk of bonus pay because of a ‘missed Metacritic point’.  Yep.  One point.  The – often controversial – site and rating system has been known to be a thorn in many sides in the past, and the studio, which recently had to downsize and shed a number of staff, saw their bonus royalties slip away thanks to a clause in their publishing contract.

According to Develop-Online, under Bethesda’s deal with Obsidian, bonus royalties would be paid out for a score of 85% or more for Fallout: New Vegas, which had shipped approximately 5 million copies by the end of 2010, and generally scored very favourably.  The Metacritic magic number for the title only came in at 84%, one percent under the agreed score.  Ouch.

Obsidian isn’t the first developer to have a Metacritic deal woven into their contracts… interviews with developers, large and small, over recent years, in industry print press such as GamesTM, have often highlighted publishers’ (and PRs’) obsessions with Metacritic scores and the effects they can have.  While the scores and site can be useful, they appear to be a double edged sword, and although gamers can often use them as a half decent barometer for game quality (as opposed to actually reading review text), they can, by all accounts, be damaging to developers, whose bonuses and, indeed, future publishing deals often hinge on the Metacritic scores of their latest projects.  Hopefully Obsidian will manage to brush it off and deliver a robust title in the shape of their upcoming South Park game, but still… one percent must sting like hell.

Source: Develop-Online

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