John Walker's Electronic House

Keep Up To Date With Polygon’s SimCity Score

by on Mar.06, 2013, under The Rest

Stay up to date with Polygon’s score for SimCity with our live tracker.


14 Comments for this entry

  • frymaster

    Extra snarky! :D I think the situation says more about the inappropriateness of using a score in general, rather than anything specific about Polygon.

  • Jim Huxter (Jimangi)

    You have time to make funky gifs but no time to record a new Rumdoings? This makes me sad.

  • Nick Mailer

    We are recording tomorrow. We came to an explicit understanding that without my prodding, he would never do one again. So I will prod.

  • Pace

    I’m not sure I see the problem here. Of course, I don’t think the numerical score system is so terrible in the first place. At least they’re making a clear point about the server problems some people are apparently having.

  • Jambe

    This says nothing about scores (they’re just approximations; use them or don’t). All I can discern is that John’s perhaps upset because a reviewer had the gumption to change their published opinion.

    Screw Russ Pitts, and screw Arthur Gies for enabling him! They posted a review and then changed it because the product experience changed! Worse, they left the original score and tacked on an addendum explaining the change! Fuck ’em! Those insidiously shifty and unethical pseudo-journalists!

    Every Score Lord is taught that once a score has been cast it must never be altered on pain of exposure to /b/-quality snark-GIFs and publisher ire. I tend to like Walker-snark, but this fell flat. I’d give it three snarks out of five. No, wait! Two of five, because of this baleful Rum Doings interregnum. Rum Doings Kickstarter.


    But yes, Polygon’s review-altering was a good move. The servers are part of the experience and they are currently shit, so the score was lowered to reflect the tenuous state of the experience. This is in line with their preexisting review policy, which says:

    “Polygon’s reviews and database have been built based on the idea of updates, or “bumps,” as I’ve called them. If a game changes in a substantive way, we can add an update to our reviews that informs you how and why, and we can modify our scores accordingly. This will appear on the reviews in question as a timeline of that game’s evolution and our corresponding recommendation (or lack thereof). The original review score will never vanish or go away, but our readers will be able to better understand where our opinions as a site reside over time for games we review.”

    That’s a good system considering the fact that updates and connectivity issues may make games better or worse with time. It’s a good policy regardless of whether one uses a scoring system; addendums (addenda?) which reflect product alterations make reviews more valuable, especially to those who don’t buy at launch. This is rather like Gabe’s conception of “games as active services”; reviews as active services!

  • Jambe

    Heh; that post got stuck in a moderation queue (probably due to dastardly HTML).

    The short of it: oh, stop it, John! Polygon’s score-altering is a good thing, and it’s a valuable service in this age of frequently-updated and DRM-addled games.

    Your fail-GIF is ludicrously ironic given that you’re otherwise quite progressive wrt “games journalism” methodologies.

  • SteveE


    The score altering is most definitely not a good thing.

    There may be circumstances in which something changes so fundamentally about a game, something that was not foreseen at the time of the original review, that amending the score is an appropriate course of action. However, in this case they’ve been caught out, not by a sudden unexpected change, but by pulling the trigger on a review too soon, before entirely predictable issues had time to fully present themselves.

    Unfortunately, Polygon seem to have been more interested in being first than in being right. Quelle surprise.

  • John Walker

    Wow, Jambe, that’s one hell of a lot of insane reading between the lines.

    I was mocking them for running a review based on unreleased code that was not representative of the final game. Then teasing about the pointlessness of a score that changes with the wind. But, you know, imagine whatever you want and then be angry about that!

  • Jambe

    They’ve now changed their review to a 4. Hah!

    @SteveE: we’d agree that Polygon should’ve called the article a preview. We might disagree about the ethics of updating articles (e.g. who defines “fundamental changes”); I think post-once-and-done attitudes are anachronistic and counterproductive given the capabilities of the medium.

    @John: oh, pff, I’m not angry, you lovable goober. Hyperbolic, certainly! Perhaps I should use fewer exclamation marks? NO!! I KNOW YOUR GIF WAS INSPIRED BY DEMON-POSSESSION! THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU TO RECANT!!!


    I think we’d also agree that Polygon’s use of the term “review” was dishonest. At least they didn’t hide their use of pre-launch code and infrastructure, and again, it was a Very Good Thing that they amended their opinion to reflect the experience players will be having.

    Fluctuating scores are no more “pointless” than Scores That Shall Not Be Changed. The only interests I perceive as harmed by fluctuating scores are the publisher interests you’ve repeatedly and rightly decried (though if anyone cares to elucidate other harms, please do). afaict, if revision histories and methods are prominently published with game reviews, readers only stand to benefit.

  • Evert

    John’s gif is getting better by the day!

  • Martin Coxall

    TBH, that just makes them look more dodgy.

    Martin Coxall: Because if your review score is so easily driven by the raging mob, it means you apply no significance to them whatsoever, and it bears no relationship to what you actually think.

    So it’s a token, a sop. Something to be sold or tossed to the highest bidder. EA PR or the rampaging mob, makes no difference.

    A whore is still a whore.

  • Jambe

    Is punditry via fixed scores (or no scores at all) less whoreish than punditry via running updates? I don’t think so; it’s all whoreish, but not uniformly so. There are benefits to a “stick to your guns” mentality, but it can foster too much inward-facing intransigence. There are detriments to a “living review” policy, but reviewers are already vulnerable to groupthink and PR; if they write honestly and are public about conflicts of interest, why not update? If the policy is decent and the writers worth their salt, the truth will out.

    Consider a SimCity reviewer who works with post-launch code and luckily has a consistent connection. She ignores social media all the way through playing and writing, eventually giving it 8/10. A cohort gives the doc a once-over before publication and mentions that many people can’t even play the game. She decides to add a bit to the front of her review saying, “I had no problems with this game and rated it 8/10 according to my experience, but judging by the unreliable state of the always-on internet auth system, I’m giving SimCity 0/10 unless the situation improves. I’d avoid it entirely until further notice. I’ll update this space with extra info if the situation changes.”

    Would that be slavish deference to reactionary net-mobs or a reasonable stance wrt a malfunctioning product? Would the tentative 0/10 and “don’t bother” recommendation be unreasonable? If so, why?

    Consider also a reviewer who gave the game two scores: 9/10 for “when it works” and 0/10 for “when it doesn’t”. Would that be less inane than giving it, say, 4 or 5/10 overall? The whole topic is ludicrous, but it does make me laugh when anti-scoring writers opine about scoring best practices.

    Polygon’s preview-as-review was blatant scoop-chasing and is rightly mocked. I still think their modification of the score was on principle a good idea. Sticking with their original score wouldn’t have shown more integrity; they’d already shown their true colors and put themselves in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.