Numbers Crunched: Are User Reviewers Harsher Or Kinder Than Pro Reviewers?

Are regular gamers better reviewers than game critics?

Developers have told me gamers can be more appreciative of parts of their games than pro reviewers were, and that users reviews often track higher than press reviews. But sometimes users do things like tear down the popular vote for "Gears of War 2" down to a 3.2 out of 10.

So are gamers kinder than professional reviewers? Harsher? Or do they actually agree most of the time?

Take a look at the scores for nine recent major games, comparing the critics' scores vs. the regular joes':

I took nine recent games: three critical darlings, three games with solid reviews and three I recalled being panned. Notice that these MetaCritic Users tend to be a bit contrarian? And that the Amazon people love everything?

THE DARLINGS

Little Big Planet (PS3)

GameRankings.com: 95%

Amazon Users: 5 Stars

MetaCritic Users: 6.1

1Up.com Users: A+

Fallout 3 (Xbox 360)

GameRankings.com: 93%

Amazon Users: 4 Stars

MetaCritic Users: 8.3

1Up.com Users: A

BioShock (PS3)

GameRankings.com: 95%

Amazon Users: 5 Stars

MetaCritic Users: 7.7

1Up.com Users: A

THE SOLID PERFORMERS

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

GameRankings.com: 73%

Amazon Users: 4 Stars

MetaCritic Users: 6.3

1Up.com Users: A-

Wario Land: Shake It

GameRankings.com: 78%

Amazon Users: 4 Stars

MetaCritic Users: 8.4

1Up.com Users: A

Mercenaries 2

GameRankings.com: 73%

Amazon Users: 3 1/2 Stars

MetaCritic Users: 7.6

1Up.com Users: A-

THE CRITICAL DUDS

Too Human

GameRankings.com: 69%

Amazon Users: 3 1/2 Stars

MetaCritic Users: 7.2

1Up.com Users: B+

Wii Music

GameRankings.com: 58%

Amazon Users: 4 Stars

MetaCritic Users: 4.2

1Up.com Users: B

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

GameRankings.com: 72%

Amazon Users: 4 1/2 Stars

MetaCritic Users: 9.4

1Up.com Users: A

So is it time for Jeff Gerstmann, the review team at 1Up and the rest of the paid-to-play class to pack it in? Power to the people? Or should the pros still be the ones most trusted to accurately review a game?

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