What is the playscore?

The playscore is a video game rating that combines aggregated critic review scores (criticscore) and aggregated user review scores (gamerscore) from reputable sources on the web.

It was developed to serve as a gauge of the overall reception of a video game and to help gamers decide which games to buy.

What makes the playscore different from other aggregate scores?

The playscore has four attributes that make it a better gauge of the overall reception of a video game.

  1. The playscore combines critic and gamer ratings.

    Historically, ratings used by video game aggregators like MetaCritic and OpenCritic are purely based on critic review scores.

    Aggregating only critic scores may be the norm but a consumer study published in 2016 found that gamer reviews affect a gamer’s decision on whether to buy a game or not.[1] By combining critic and gamer review scores into one unique rating, whatoplay revolutionizes the way video games are evaluated.

  2. The playscore is specific to the platform the game is released on.

    The performance of a video game can vary between devices for several reasons:

    • It may be more optimized for PCs but not consoles, or it could be designed to work best with touch devices and not with controllers.
    • There is a practice within the industry of outsourcing ports to other development studios. This, sometimes, leads to sub-par ports of otherwise good games.
    • Critics and gamers review games on the platforms they played it on. Their reviews reflect experiences on that specific device and must not be extended to others.

    Therefore, the only way to accurately aggregate reviews is to attribute scores to their corresponding platforms. Doing otherwise is irresponsible. Hence, multiplatform games receive separate playscores.

    GEARS 5 is a perfect example of this. It was well-received on the Xbox One with a playscore of 8.85. Meanwhile, the PC version is plagued with performance issues leading to a lower playscore of 7.13.

  3. The playscore is derived from reputable sources.

    Aggregate scores are only as good as their sources. To ensure that we only draw reviews from trustworthy sources, we impose the following criteria to our accredited publications:

    • Publishes reviews that fairly criticize games and help readers decide whether to buy the game or not
    • has been reviewing video games for, at least, 6 months
    • reviews more than 4 games every month
    • has an Alexa rank of less than 3 million
    • and uses a rating system that can be easily converted to fit our 0 to 10 score (e.g. percentage, 1 to 5, star ratings)

    Note: For transparency, we listed our accredited sources . Every three months, we audit all our sources by adding new ones or removing others and putting them in the inactive resources list.

  4. The playscore is dynamic.

    Modern games are continually updated months, even years, after launch. These updates can affect the overall gaming experience. Examples include addition of new features, buffing or nerfing of characters, introduction of exploitative lootboxes, and technical improvements.

    These updates are usually followed by new reviews from gamers and, in rare instances, even critics will update their scores. To keep pace with these shifts in reception, we keep track of all changes to both gamer and critic reviews; and our algorithm recalculates the playscore every two hours

    A good example is Dark Souls III on PC. When it was released in April 2016, it received a playscore of 7.88, primarily due to technical issues gamers experienced. Over the years, subsequent patches fixed and improved the game leading to a higher playscore of 8.96.

How is the playscore calculated?

The algorithm that calculates the playscore follows three main processes described below. We will illustrate the process by calculating the playscore of SEKIRO: Shadows Die Twice.

  1. It starts by calculating two separate scores:

    1. Average Critic Rating (ACR), an average of all critic scores from trusted publications

      ACR Equation
    2. Average Gamer Rating (AGR), an average of all gamer ratings from active online gaming communities

      AGR Equation
    3. Example:
      In the case of SEKIRO, it received an ACR of 8.86071 based on 56 aggregated critic reviews and an AGR of 8.92949 from 5469 aggregated gamer reviews.

      Note: All ratings from our sources are automatically converted to fit within our 0-10 scoring. For example, a rating of 95% from gamestar.de becomes 9.5; a gamezebo.com rating of 3.5 stars is converted to 7.

  2. To ensure fairness in ranking, we have to take into account the degree of coverage a game has received. To do this, the algorithm adjusts the ACR and AGR using the statistical tool called Bayesian Estimator[2].

    This adjustment results in two new values: the ACR becomes the criticscore and the AGR becomes the gamerscore.

    1. criticscore

      The criticscore is calculated using the derived Bayesian Estimator formula:

      criticscore Equation

      c = number of critic ratings; m = minimum required critic count to get a playscore; ACR = average critic rating; Pc = the average ratings of all games on the platform that met the minimum required number of critic reviews

      SEKIRO has an ACR of 8.86071 with 56 critics. Since it’s a PS4 game, the minimum number of critics is 3 and the average critic rating of all PS4 games is 7.11870. Using these values, we get a criticscore of 8.77214.

    2. gamerscore

      The gamerscore is calculated using the derived Bayesian Estimator formula:

      gamerscore Equation

      g = number of gamer ratings; m = minimum required gamer count to get a playscore; AGR = average gamer rating; Pg = the average ratings of all games on the platform that met the minimum required number of gamer reviews

      For SEKIRO’s gamerscore, the minimum required number of gamer reviews on PS4 is 50 and the average gamer rating of all PS4 games is 8.52476. With an AGR of 8.92949 and a gamer review count of 5469, we get a gamerscore of 8.92582.

  3. Finally, to calculate the playscore, simply take the average of the critiscore and gamerscore.

    playscore Equation

    Applying this to SEKIRO, we get a playscore of 8.85, after rounding to two decimal places for accuracy.

What are the minimum requirements for a game to have a playscore?

PlatformMinimum Required CriticsMinimum Required Gamers
PlayStation 4350
Xbox One350
Nintendo 3DS350
PS Vita350
PlayStation 3350
Xbox 360350
Nintendo Wii U350

Note: The minimum requirement for each platform can change depending on available sources of reviews.

What does the color associated with the playscore mean?

The color is an indicator of what range the playscore of a game belongs to. It serves as a visual aid when skimming across a long list of games. There are five colors identifying five ranges:

  • 9.00 to 10.0
  • 8.00 to 8.99
  • 6.00 to 7.99
  • 4.00 to 5.99
  • 0.00 to 3.99

How often is the playscore updated?

The playscores of all the games in our database are updated every 60 minutes. When a whatoplay user publishes a review, it’s aggregated immediately and the game’s playscore is adjusted in real-time.

Why don’t some games have playscores?

Only games that reach the minimum requirements listed in the table above will get a playscore. Those that didn’t are marked “NA'' for “not applicable”. If a game only reaches the minimum count for critic or gamer reviews, it will receive a criticscore or gamerscore.

How often do you gather review data?

The short answer is, as often as possible. We have two ways of aggregating reviews from different sources:

  1. Manual Curation

    All critic reviews are manually checked and added by our team of data curators. This means reading the review and saving details (url, score, quote, author, etc.) into our database.

  2. Automated Data Scraping

    Keeping track of external gamer reviews, on the other hand, is more complex. We built hundreds of data scrapers that automatically gather reviews from various sources on the web. How often they capture new info depends on how frequently the sources are updated.

    For instance, newly-released games are likely to receive more reviews in its first month of release; thus, they’re updated every couple of hours. Meanwhile, older games are only updated, at least, once a week.