Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida Bares Fangs on 7.5 The Last of Us Review (UPDATED)

I just wrote yesterday that Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida is most definitely a nice and friendly fellow, but like every passionate gamer, he can readily bare his fangs when he sees something that really doesn’t sit right with him.

A few days ago the internet was taken by surprise by Polygon’s review of The Last of Us, that gave the game a rather low 7.5, at least compared to its current Metacritic score of 96. Especially criticized was the site’s policy to have senior editors “help” in determining the score of a review after it has been written.

Games are not scored until a review is written and finalized. Once a review is complete, the reviewer meets with a group of senior editors to determine which score on our scale properly reflects the text as written. We do not write with scores in mind.

There has even been word about the site banning commenters that harshly criticized such policy.

Today the review’s author Philip Kollar stirred Yoshida-san with what seemed to be a quite sarcastic tweet, causing him to respond rather curtly:

Following the first exchange of fire Yoshida-san elaborated further.

Despite the initial exchange, that wasn’t exactly friendly, things cooled down rather quickly.

While the exchange is funny (and it’s entirely possible for it to be an inside joke between Kollar and Yoshida-san. Such things do happen at E3), I wouldn’t normally report on it. After all a reviewer is absolutely free to score his review however he wants, even way out of the Metacritic average, just as much as a developer is entirely free to vocally respond when he feels that something isn’t right.

It has to be said that Kollar himself has taken criticism quite in stride. I always say that game critics need to learn to be on the receiving end of criticism, instead of just standing of their soap box and preaching while being immune to their own coin, and in this case Kollar did rather well.

Though, this all raises a relevant question, on which I’d like to hear our readers’ opinion as a writer and editor (and please, don’t let yourself be swayed by the game and score in question).

Should people that haven’t played a game really contribute to scoring it? While a veteran editor can get a feel of a game by reading a review, can he really catch all the nuances that you may be able to notice only by playing?

I’m most definitely not disputing another site’s review policy. It’s their prerogative to score whatever they like however they like, and their readers will then judge. Nevertheless I’m curious about our readers’ opinion on the issue. I’ve personally got in touch with some of our writers when I felt that a review’s score didn’t properly reflect the written text (especially when the writer was new), asking him for his reasoning, and I know that Chad (our review editor) did as well, but we normally just try to understand the reasons behind it, instead of influencing it.

On the other hand, I’m entirely in agreement with scoring a review only after it has been written, and I know Chad is as well. I see too many reviews written with a certain score in mind as a goal, and the quality and clarity of judgement normally suffers.

Are we doing it right or wrong? Should a writer be completely independent in scoring his review, or should editors be able to weigh-in whether they played the game or not? Should scores just go away and let the true text-based opinion shine? have review scores (low, high or otherwise) become just a ruse to earn more of your clicks? The ball is in your court. Let me know.

Update: A further exchange appeared way more peaceful, showing that either the issue has been settled with group hugs, or, as previously mentioned, it was an all an inside joke to begin with.

Join the Discussion