The Value of Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I’m not a huge fan of Rotten Tomatoes and the idea that there is a “consensus that this movie is 72% good”. I’ve voiced it before and I’ll voice it here as well: I think following critics for any medium that you tend to agree with is really useful, as is following some critics who you don’t always agree with. Following people, not aggregate scores gives you more context around what is good or bad (subjectively, of course) about that particular movie, video game, book, or TV show. It also may turn you on to something that you would love, even if it only got positive reviews from 30% of critics.

It also helps you not get caught up in the “critics say it’s X and people say it’s Y, so that proves critics are useless,” arguments.

But there is some value in these sites existing in the first place. First, it’s just convenient to have one place to go to see a bunch of reviews about something. Sure, you could Google it, but that’s going to turn up span and a site dedicated to this is almost certainly going to have a nicer UI for exploring. Hell, you could use this to find a critic or two to follow directly!

And second, finding and following a few critics is more work than everyone wants to do. I feel passionately about video games and I know I like to see what Easy Allies and SkillUp have to say about games I’m looking to buy, and not to get too negative, but I also know that I don’t care what Angry Joe or ACG think about a game. But I know not everyone is like that, so if if someone buys like 2 games per year and they just want to get a quick idea if the new Paper Mario game is worth their money, it’s valuable for them to be able to quickly see an average score and get a general idea, and Metacritic lets them do that.

You’re not going to hear me say Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic are great anytime soon, and for things you really care about I really suggest digging deeper, but at the same time I have to acknowledge that they serve a purpose.