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Analysis of OpenCritic Review Data

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This post aims to utilize data to confirm and refute common assumptions about the video game industry while hopefully revealing some original insights along the way. All the data in this post was scraped from OpenCritic, a review aggregate website which assigns scores out of 100. The data includes all games which currently have a score on the site, roughly 5300 titles, unless stated otherwise. The majority of titles were released after Opencritic's launch on September 30, 2015, though some older legacy games are also apart of the site's data.


General Scores

First, we will look at the general distribution of the review scores and some basic statistics.

  • Average: 69.97
  • Median: 72
  • Mode: 70
  • Lowest Score: 15 (Planet 2000)
  • Highest Score: 97 (Super Mario Odyssey)
  • Standard Deviation: 11.69

A graphical depiction of the scores reveals that they are slightly skewed left, but heavily clustered about the mean. This makes sense given that the average score is a 7/10: there is simply more room to the left of the review scale. Additionally, the percentiles are quite surprising . . .

  • 5%: 48
  • 10%: 55
  • 90%: 83
  • 95%: 85
  • 99%: 90

These percentiles tell us that the vast majority of games, 90% of all releases reviewed by OpenCritic, fall in the range 48-85. Thus, a score of 85 or above is truly impressive, much more so than one might expect. This speaks to how many games are released versus how few most of us actually buy. A disproportionate amount time is spent in games in the top 5%, even top 1%, of all releases. We simply have too many good games and not enough time!


Release Dates

Looking at release dates from 2016, a histogram reveals that the number of games released which receive an OpenCritic score has been consistent. Notably each year appears to have valleys in which the volume of releases diminish. As expected these occur in late December to early January and during the summer months.


Number of Releases by Platform

We can also examine the number of games on OpenCritic by platform. This data is summarized in the following bar chart. As expected, the platform with the most titles is PC with 3861/5326 or roughly 72.49% of games. However, even this proportion is likely less than the true value. Many games get released and are never reviewed so they do not appear on OpenCritic. Sites such as itch.io are filled with these unreported games, and most of them appear exclusively on PC, meaning that a personal computer is by far the platform with the most games. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Stadia which has 29/5326 or roughly 0.54% of all games on the site. This is where we see OpenCritic's data falter since according to this article there are roughly 50 games on Stadia. Thus, it is possible some of these games were never reviewed, but this seems unlikely since most games on Stadia are well-known titles. I suspect that this discrepancy is simply caused by OpenCritic not updating their site to reflect when some games are released on Stadia.

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Number of Platform Exclusives

In this discussion a console exclusive will be a game which is only currently available on a single platform. Thus games such as Death Stranding which were exclusive upon release, but have since migrated to other platforms, are not counted. The data is summarized in this bar chart. PC is the undisputed king of exclusives which makes sense given the prevalence of indie games and PC specific genres such as CRPG's and hyper-realistic sims. Another take away is that Switch has already surpassed its console competition in terms of the sheer size of its exclusive catalog. While Nintendo first-party titles were undoubtedly a contributing factor, I believe this chart clearly shows that the Switch has become the home of indies. Nintendo has fully embraced independent developers through initiatives such as their "Nindie Directs" and they are reaping the rewards, at least in terms catalog size.


Scores of Platform Exclusives

One may now ask if these exclusives are any good. The data of platform exclusive review scores is summarized in this bar chart. Interestingly, Stadia appears to have the strongest exclusives, though this can be deceiving. While Stadia exclusives may have the highest review scores on average, none of them reach the heights of PC indie darlings or PlayStation's first-party offerings. These platforms are simply dragged down by a lack of curation. Many games are only released on the PS4 or Switch, and even more only on PC, and some of them are not that good. They are still console exclusives but not the one's we typically associate with the term system seller's. Stadia does not have this issue of indie developer's flocking to launch below average games on their platform. Another interesting take-away is that of the three VR platforms, Oculus has the best exclusives by a sizable margin, approximately 10 points on average more than PSVR. As a whole, though, all platforms are within plus or minus 6 of the overall average score of 69.97.


Number of "Excellent" Platform Exclusives

What happens if we compensate for the lack of curation on platforms such as PC by only counting exclusives in the top 5% of all releases? As we saw before, the cutoff to be in the top 5% is a score of 85, so let's see how many platform exclusives achieved a score of 85 or higher. The data is visualized by the bar chart. Here we can clearly see the strength of Sony's first-party line-up as a greater proportion of their console exclusives are "excellent" compared to the Switch, PC, or XB1. In fact, about 14.34% of PS4 exclusives are "excellent" while only 8.92%/6.08% of Switch/PC exclusives respectively are "excellent." Perhaps the most shocking is which two platforms have the greatest proportion of "excellent" exclusives. 15.15% of Wii-U exclusives earned a score of 85 or above and a whopping 19.23% of Oculus exclusives achieved the same standards. Additionally, we see a strong correlation between number of exclusives and number of "excellent" exclusives. The correlation coefficient (r-value) is quite large at 0.96. Thus, it seems that the key the obtaining system-sellers is not to attempt to release only a couple high-quality titles, but rather to release as many exclusives as possible, since some are bound to score well.


Conclusion

After crunching the numbers, it seems many of the commonly held assumptions about the industry hold true. PS4, at least by some metrics, really does have the best exclusives and PC really is the ultimate gaming platform for sheer catalog size. However, I think the most interesting take away is just how vibrant the video game medium is. There are thousands of contemporary games available to play, and many of them are among the best ever made. We have come along way from the video game crash of 1983, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down. Please let me know any insights you made while looking at the data, or any alternative interpretations you have!

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