Update: 8/4/17- I originally posted this editorial explaining the unique problem assigning scores to iOS game reviews almost two years ago. Since then, we've been bombarded with an onslaught of incredible mobile games. We're getting to the point where Jared and I rarely even have time to play all the good games that come out in an average week, and that's our job. As a result, we've gotten even more choosey about what we decide to review, which inevitably means our review scores are averaging even higher than they were in the past, as there's really little sense in bothering with reviews for games that aren't great anymore (with the obvious exception being high profile or otherwise highly anticipated titles). This week alone we've posted four five star reviews, so, it felt like it made sense to re-publish this post to get ahead of the inevitable "TouchArcade loves everything" which is undoubtedly coming soon as this trend continues.

Anyway, the original text follows, which is still super applicable today. The numbers quoted regarding the number of games available on iOS has ballooned significantly since I originally pulled them in early 2016, so, keep in mind there's even more games than what I originally calculated two-ish years ago:

Originally posted 1/7/16: A big part of my job here around TouchArcade is acting as a bit of an air traffic controller, it’s like playing a real-world version of Flight Control only instead of routing planes around it’s new games to writers, support issues to tech people, and other things along those lines. I’ve got an extensive Rube Goldberg machine of triggered alerts and other crazy things to help automate this as much as I reasonably can, but, every day I spend a huge amount of my time just keeping track of what’s going on in the world of iOS gaming as a whole. That also involves following our own awesome community, as well as other places on the internet where anyone might be talking about iOS games. One thing that consistently comes up is general confusion surrounding how we rate our games. The farther you get away from TouchArcade, the nastier people get about it, but the prevailing wisdom is something along the lines of “lol toucharcade loves everything lol.” It’s part of a bigger problem of people not really understanding how we rate our game reviews, but more importantly, why we rate them the way we do. I posted a lengthy response to the latest discussion I found about this, but it seemed a little weird to not also post a similar thing here as unless you listen to our podcast, chances are you’ve never gotten to the nuts and bolts of the TouchArcade review rating system.


Before I get started with all this, I’ll come straight out and say it: I wish we didn't score games at all. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away we just posted reviews of iPhone games and you had to read the review and get an idea of whether or not you'd like a game based off the text. We eventually started doing monthly "Best of" roundups that picked a small handful of what we thought were the best games of that particular month, and that was the closest we ever really came to rating anything. Eventually reader pressure combined with Metacritic opening up an iOS category on their site forced our hands when it came to assigning scores to our game reviews as we published them. We went with a five star system because that's what the App Store uses and it felt like it fit in with what we were doing here.

2073909-img_0504The problem any kind of numerical rating scheme introduces when reviewing iOS games is that we’re applying a system with roots in traditional games and games journalism shoehorned onto a platform that’s unlike anything that gamers (and developers) have really ever experienced before. The quantity of games on the App Store, as well as the massive gulf in quality between the absolute best games and the absolute worst games makes utilizing conventional knowledge about how game review scores should work incredibly difficult. On a busy week, the App Store will have more new games released than a console might see in an entire year. Cynical followers of mobile gaming will often claim that "99% of mobile games are total sh*t.” So, assuming just for a moment that that number is true, since the start of the App Store to today we’ve seen 562,513 games released, 1% of that would mean that 5,625 games are presumably good, or at least, not “total sh*t.” If you take a slightly more liberal stance towards the quality of mobile gaming and think that even 2% of all the games on the App Store are good, that’s over 11,000 different titles worth at least some sliver of our time. If you’re willing to be more generous in your percentage of “good” mobile games, that number just continues to balloon.

For the sake of comparison, the PlayStation 2, which according to my research had the largest game library of any console, saw 3,874 games released in all regions across its entire lifecycle. As of this writing, we have reviewed 3,448 different iOS games. At the pace we’re going, at some point early this year we will have published the coverage equivalent of reviewing every single PS2 game ever released. Using our numbers from before, 3,448 games is actually 0.6% of the games that have been released on the App Store. Taking this a step further, that means that in order for a game to be reviewed on TouchArcade, it needs to be in the 99.4th percentile of App Store quality. With that in mind, how do you establish any kind of baseline of what the absolute worst game we review should be rated, and what should be the top end? Before we even write the first sentence of the review, we’ve already established that the game we’re writing about is among the best of the best, and there’s really no other platform we can even look to to inform us of how to handle this sort of thing. We’re skimming such a premium level of cream off the App Store that if you compared these percentages and this kind of quality curve to the Nintendo 64 library, our entire rating system would need to exist in the minor difference between the score we’d give Goldeneye and what we’d rate Ocarina of Time.


That all seems really crazy, and just doesn’t really work in any practical sense. Instead, we’ve chosen to look at our review scale as less of a "how perfect is this game" way and more of a "how much do we recommend downloading this game” sort of mentality. That's the only way we can get any level of granularity between the phenomenal games we write about, as again, anything that we post about on any level is good enough to be worth checking out and is easily among the best stuff the App Store has to offer. You saw the numbers from earlier, it isn’t even hyperbole on any level to say something like that. Additionally, like everyone else writing about video games, we have fairly limited resources with regards to how many games we can even cover. We try to intelligently manage those resources, resulting in us really only ever reviewing the absolute best of the best iOS games a vast majority of the time. This makes things feel a bit more timeless too, as old five star reviews still stand up as games I'd totally recommend downloading even years later, which is important as we've seen multiple generational leaps in graphical fidelity as iOS hardware continues to be released and get faster annually. With that said, I totally agree it's not a perfect system by any stretch of the imagination- No system that distills a complex opinion down to a number can ever be.

A great recent example as to there not really being a great solution to this problem was a recent review I wrote for Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories [$6.99]. I gave it five stars, and from the outside looking in, it’s totally understandable to be like, "Wow, TouchArcade is saying that arguably the weakest game in the modern GTA lineup is a flawless game?" Do I think it's a perfect game? Of course not. GTA: San Andreas [$6.99] is an objectively bigger and potentially an overall substantially better game. It's also available on the App Store, and it even sells for the same price. However, given the massive amounts of terrible games on the App Store, do I recommend downloading GTA: Liberty City Stories over nearly everything else? Absolutely, in fact, if you follow TouchArcade and have downloaded the other GTA games as they've been released, you badly need this one too because it's frickin' GTA in your pocket. It’s a game with a real story, full voiceovers, great gameplay, and a level of depth and complexity that’s rarely seen on the App Store. Hell, it's still worth the $6.99 even if all you ever do is get on a motorcycle and run from cops. So, through that lens, five stars makes total sense for that game and it’s hard to argue anything lower.

58430501Just glancing at the headline, looking at the score, and assuming we rate our reviews like everyone else inevitably causes the whole "lol TouchArcade likes everything lol” thing. I'm really not sure how to better communicate the intent of our rating system, as, really, it's true. We like everything we post about. We're in an incredibly unique situation that we can choose to ignore everything that's bad and still not have enough bandwidth to possibly post about everything that’s good on the App Store. 30 games looked compelling enough to be worth including in our “Out Now” post yesterday, comparatively, it appears that there’s 14 vaguely high profile console games coming out in the entire month of January. Even if you added in every random below-the-radar indie console title, it still wouldn’t come close to what we’ll see this month.

If we were a console site, we’d review all or most of those 14 games, and in turn we’d likely have a very wide spread of scores as some of those games inevitably will be good and some will be bad. Instead, we’ll actively choose to write about the five or so best games that came out today alone, amongst a pool of hundreds that were released that aren’t even worth mentioning. If we had a massive staff and the resources to review every single one of those games that were released today, the five best titles would stand out as amazing, incredible titles, that are every bit worth the highest marks on our scoring scale. The problem is, in doing that, well over 99% of our content would serve absolutely no purpose beyond making those good games feel more special, like their high rating is appropriate, or a five star rating from TouchArcade "means something." Also, I'm really not sure what value TouchArcade as a site would have, as why would you visit a web site to find an avalanche of terrible games?

funny-video-game-gun-duck-huntI've thought about steering things away from the star system and instead some kind of recommend-o-meter sort of thing that better illustrates our overall intent. The problem with anything we do is at the end of the day it matters little what crazy system you come up with, it all still comes down to some kind of numerical value representing your opinion regardless of how it’s all displayed. Again, since we actively choose to only write about games we think are good, interesting, or otherwise among the best the App Store has to offer, anything that we review is naturally going to swing higher on a scoring scale. It makes no sense to slam great games that might not be as good as other slightly greater games with a substantially lower score just so we have a wider spread of numerical ratings. Similarly, it makes just as little sense to keep our top-end scores behind some "break in case of emergency" piece of glass that we only touch when something truly groundbreaking comes along once or twice a year. Things get even more complicated when you add review aggregators into the mix.

I have friends who ran a console news/review site for a while that had a four point scale that I really liked. It was "Don't bother," "Try it," "Buy it," and "Classic." I thought this was really clever because it dumped the granularity of deciding if something is a 78 out of 100 or a 79 out of a 100 or averaging crazy feature score matrices where you assigned scores to things like graphics, sound, “fun factor,” and other meaningless categories for its final score. With their method, you knew that a game totally wasn't worth your time, was worth maybe grabbing through Redbox or Gamefly to try out, was worth picking up, or was one of the best games of the year. It seems like a fantastic idea on paper, and similarly does a great job of conveying what we're trying to do with the TouchArcade rating system.


Sadly, this has one significant and very real drawback: Review aggregators are a thing, and regardless of how weird you get with your scoring system, everything eventually will be boiled down to a 100 point scale for aggregated average scores. In this example, a rating of “Buy” comes with a very strong recommendation, but it would be counted on Metacritic as a 75 out of 100, unintentionally significantly dragging down the average score of titles they thoroughly enjoyed. By Metacritic standards, their recommendation would be numerically distilled into a rating that's well below what people see as a "good" score. That seems broken too. You could say, "Eh, screw the review aggregators, who needs 'em, Metacritic does more harm than good," and while that’s certainly an argument you could make, we're still a very tiny site in the grand scheme of things. Those clicks and backlinks are valuable when it comes to site traffic, Google page ranking, and other things you have to think about when you're running a web site while facing the reality that you’re also responsible for the health of a small business with employees that need to be paid that have families that need to be fed.

At the end of the day, there’s really no great solution. I think what we have works pretty well, although at times it feels like our intent has been communicated rather poorly. A fantastic way to assign a numerical score to a subjective opinion of anything doesn’t really exist, and the challenges we deal with on iOS as a platform puts us in a unique situation that makes applying conventional logic in what other outlets are doing or have done incredibly difficult. Hopefully that sheds some light on things!

  • Jerutix

    This was a great article, Eli! It really does put iOS vs. consoles into perspective on sheer amounts of releases.

    Maybe (not a serious suggestion) you should pick one or two terrible games to review every month so haters will think high reviews are worth more. 😛

    • Andrew Fretz

      My take away from this article is that someone saying "99% of mobile games are bad" is actually saying "there are more good games on mobile than were even ever made on PS2"

      What a ringing endorsement!

      • Tallgeese

        "Head of mobile games rating site "Finger Potion フィングル ポシヨン" admits mobile games are, more or less, 99% garbage but also insists the "cream" we rate exists somewhere between Goldeneye and Ocarina of Time." Insert daggers here.

      • Tallgeese

        I now write farcical headlines for other sites to get buzz about yours. It's a soulless and evil task where I take the things you say and place them in slightly different but more provocative context and I DO IT ALL FOR THE JOLLIES!

      • Tallgeese

        But it gives me no jollies, there exists only the crushing emptiness. The void. An escapable maw that consumes everything. So, it's a lot like Clash of Clans.

      • Andrew Fretz

        Don't drink too much finger potion, stay safe, stay... sane?

      • Tallgeese

        Stay thirsty, my friends! For Finguru Poshun!

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp


      • Tallgeese

        I'm just trying to say you'd definitely get more Readers if you rebranded to "Finger Potion." Also you could make things pink AND USE HEARTS INSTEAD OF STARS! Like the video games of yore!!!

      • Tallgeese


      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Oh, good idea.

      • Modjular

        What even is a finger potion?

      • Tallgeese

        Is the future of mobile gaming, young (and or old) man (but probably definitely a man and not a robot sent from the future to kill me because I have all of the best ideas)! The future!

      • Tallgeese

        1 heart = nice try, game
        2 hearts = okey dokey effort
        3 hearts = pretty good but just in case you get hit you should try and get more heart containers
        4 hearts = NICE TRY, GAME!
        5 hearts = nothing can kill you
        1 gumdrop = this game was made by the people who made candy crush. Candy crush, it's like candy, but for the eyes, and eventually much more expensive...
        1 unicorn = the best game ever made, everyone should play it, (must be a virgin to witness because unicorn law)

      • Alexythimia23

        Seriously, nothing you ( tallgeese )write makes sense lol when i see your posts i skip them. You dont add anything meaningful but attempt to come across quirky and edgy by feveriously typing nonsense, and its not even funny in an off the cuff sort of way, it just makes no sense dude! Sorry to put that out there but you need to calm down taking whatever your taking! This was a great article, very insightful read and a clear explanation of just how difficult rating a game is in the ios ecosystem. I didnt want to start with the silly posts but they just dont add anything meaningful in any way, id like to read your posts where they make sence just once!

      • Tallgeese

        My first impulse was to pull an Eli (that means "be sarcastic," in this context) by saying "I give your comment one Carter (that means a 3.5, in this context) minus 3 (equals 0.5)," officially giving your review of my comment a review there-in twisting this circular conversation (circular because the main article was about the folly of rating systems, and by rating my commentary you made it come full circle) into an infinity symbol (because next you will grade my comment, and judge its contents based on your own criteria, therein explaining the folly of any rating system that tries to properly weigh a piece of art, its subjectivity in a room full of critics).

        .I'm sorry if I'm not contributing to an article waxing poetic about the downsides of grading systems. I did this before, recommended they do categories (art/story/replayability/music/multiplayer/etc) and add funny captions to their screenshots like PC Gamer. I could go on-and-on but the app can't be updated so one wonders what can really be done to alter current events. I imagine this article was written because someone said something to the tune of "Touch Arcade loves everything" (no idea why I thought that) and is therefor not a good rater of things (and Metacritic perhaps in some way reflects this, which is the whole point of Metacritic, by the way, reviews in aggregate form). What really matters is if you see eye-to-eye with your reviewer, meaning you share similar tastes and and valuations of quality.

        .Finger Potion is a silly transliteration of Touch Arcade into Japanese, I thought my initial comment was too mean so I altered it to be less so. Pulling elements out of another's mouth and reordering them to suit one's agenda is fairly common. Displaying a ranking system of different icons besides stars illustrates that not everyone sees stars the same way (values the same things). I prefer hearts because the games of my youth used those (or rings, I can never recall what Castlevania uses, maybe just shrines unless you have a leeching power, hearts in Castlevania are used for secondary abilities, at least traditionally so).

        .Stars seems to be the go-to now for mobile games, short tiny chunks where you earn pats on the back instead of playing through a long-termed experience with hearts lost and gained (hearts is meant to have the dual and perhaps triplicate meaning of gaining and losing friends and meaningful experiences). A star is a giant ball of hot gas that you can constantly strive for but not really reach, a game with promise but never leaving the ground (at least in the context I have chosen, stars are also infinite realms of possibility that will cause you to explode should you actually dare to touch one).

        .Stars and hearts both work for grading in either the game losing too many lives during a review process by too often disappointing or it not earning enough stars during its review, the result is still a low score. Something that can be translated to a number but one that doesn't always make sense to everyone. A unicorn is for games that are stupid but we love them anyways for nostalgic or perhaps Bronycious (Brony-ish didn't sound cool enough) reasons. A gumdrop is for the glittery garbage that has the full financial backing but isn't actual food (meaning it's not heart-y).

        .Did I actually mean to say any of that or was it all purely skip-worthy nonsense? That's partially up to you and whether or not you seek to find value in abstractions. Or have time for them, I can completely understand if you don't.

      • Tallgeese

        Something that can be translated to a number but one that doesn't always make sense to everyone. A unicorn is for games that are stupid but we love them anyways for nostalgic or perhaps Bronycious (Brony-ish didn't sound cool enough) reasons. A gumdrop is for the glittery garbage that has the full financial backing but isn't actual food (meaning it's not heart-y).

        .Did I actually mean to say any of that or was it all purely skip-worthy nonsense? That's partially up to you and whether or not you seek to find value in abstractions. Or have time for them, I can completely understand if you don't.

      • Modjular

        That... Explained nothing .-.

        I'm imagining an elixir, made of fingers. A finger potion. Maybe your autocorrect is janky?

  • tsargeant3012

    I’ve followed you guys for a while, and listen to the podcast, so nothing in here came as a big surprise. It is however nice to read a well written piece on why things are the way they are.

  • korossyl

    I've never criticized TA, but did subconsciously think that, yeah, the ratings here are pretty consistently high. This answers that: thanks!

    I don't think it's cynical at all to say that 99% of all App Store games are worthless. I think it's safe to say that about every medium: TV, movies, books, music, etc. That doesn't degrade those media at all. It takes nothing away from the Summa Theologica that 50 Shades of Grey also exists, or from Palestrina that Katy Perry also does. After all, if ALL of it were good -- or even half of it -- why would we need TA, or any other reviewers of anything?

    • boydstr

      When people have a different opinion about something that some others see as fantastic or great that they see that different opinion as offensive or insulting I think that diversity in people and/or culture language etc is fantastic the world should be very dull when everyone is sort of the same.

  • http://adamsimmersive.com Adams Immersive

    I'd never want a review site that didn't mainly give high ratings.

    Because, other than for humor or to deflate some hotly-anticipated disaster, GOOD games are the ones worth my time to discover and play.

    I like the "worth your time" metric. Maybe 5 clocks instead of 5 stars?

    That and letting the complainers grow up. It happens to most people in the end. Then they will understand that stars are putting a rough number on something subjective, while the TEXT of the article is the truly useful thing.

  • Zwilnik

    Why not assume all games reviewed on TA are in the top 1% and do a scale from 99.0% - 100%. That would suitably screw meta critic 🙂

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      lol. I don't think they do anything but whole numbers, so our scale as far as Metacritic is concerned would be binary decision between 99 or 100.

    • Modjular

      That's a good way of seeing it. Just the fact that it makes the list means it probably isn't the 99%

  • scottsoapbox

    People also need to realize that ALL star rankings are really 1-5 not 0-5. So an "average" game is not 2.5* but 3*.

    • Psac42

      I have seen some movies get a zero star review once in a blue moon. I don't know if TA has ever given a game a zero or 1/2 star.

      • InTheAir

        Nope, only a 1-star, and that only happened eight times.

  • Mike Walko

    Can you put the more touchy-feely reviews public, but submit the hard numbers to the aggregate sites? I don't know how these sites gather their info, but could you rate something as "Buy it" but put in a hidden tag with like a 90% so metacritic gets their percentage?

  • dancj

    I've never found the rating system here confusing or expected star games to be perfect. That's just silly. Sometimes I agree with the ratings and sometimes I don't - but it could never be any other way.

    I know you hate the ratings, but I like them. I wouldn't have time to fully read every review of every game and still actually get some time in playing the things so it's one of my guiding factors. Depending on the game, the rating might make me read a review I would otherwise have skipped - or at least let me check out the last paragraph - which in itself might or might not entice me to read the rest of the review.

    • xerosided

      Pretty much this. When I'm looking for a new game, I start by skimming over the 5-star reviews, then 4.5, etc. until something catches my eye. I also try to actively read every review of games that look like I might enjoy them, even if they get a low score. I have not ever thought "this score is ridiculous", because the review generally does a good job of explaining why the reviewer feels that way, even when I disagree.

  • lancheta

    Good read, Eli. I remember way back when, my method of screening good games from great games was checking in monthly at the news stands. I would look up the latest issue of Gamepro, EGM, or Nintendo Power and hope that one of my friends got those games so I would be able to stop by their house and watch them play it, or be able to play it myself. Blockbuster would not have newest games until maybe a week or two after the initial release, so we were usually out of luck when accessing them.

    Your team puts a lot of effort in reviewing the App Store content, and I appreciate it. It has helped round out my gaming library, and has added so much convenience to my selection process. Keep up the good work!

    • korossyl


  • nicoper

    That was a great article! If possible, you should add a link to it at the end of every review and say something like "If you're going to comment about the rating, make sure that you've read this first, to make sure you know how we rate games"

  • speedyph


  • skitch

    I give this article "Classic"
    Definitely worth your time!

  • lboldham

    Even with some form of measurable criteria used for scoring, ultimately reviews and rating systems consist of a subjective opinion, as nicely emphasized in this article. At least with TA, readers are provided with intelligently written articles with sensible evaluation of the games reviewed. With that, I can use my personal gaming preferences to decide which game may be right for me or not. While I appreciate having read yet another thoughtful, reader friendly TA article, I've never needed an explanation for your rating system. Thanks for all of the hard work and IOS gaming information you provide. 👍🏻

    • ValentiaLyra

      Yes, exactly. I pay heed to the words in the articles and how they resonate against my through-many-eons-developed personal game-enjoyment parameters. 🙂 The articles are thorough and well-written, so this works well for me. I've enjoyed everything I've downloaded based on my reading of a review. No star or other scoring system is really needed when the articles are so thorough. TA reviews are so informative.

  • Chris

    Very interesting, thanks for this!

  • kjax

    Great article Eli, and an interesting problem. I like the idea of a "recommend-o-meter". Here's my suggestion, use two rating systems. Continue the use of your five-star rating system that will be used by metacritic, etc. Use the additional "recommend-o-meter" as a completely separate "rating". Show both systems at the end of a review, with a quick blurb for each recommendation. In this way, you cover the need for the review aggregators, while also improving the content for your readers.

    • Mess

      Why have both? The star rating is already the recommend-o-meter...

  • Stustaff

    WHAT!!! I have always thought games with 4 or less start on here were not very good so have not bothered with any of them! 😉

    What I'd like to see is a top ten of each genre with the top games in and as a new release comes out see where it slots in.

    • Andrew Fretz

      A lot of the lower scored games seem to be initially hype-worthy or prestigious in some way but then don't measure up after the fact which is a lot different than a game that looks bad and turns out to be, in fact, bad.

    • xerosided

      I have gotten good mileage out of looking at any game that gets a 3 or higher here. They're not all my cup of tea, but 3 seems, IME, to be the line between "this is good but not perfect," and "this is popular but not good."

  • xerosided

    Very well put, Eli. I think using the rating system as a measure of how much you recommend the game is a great way to handle the high volume and keep it interesting for the user.

    One concern I have, however, is your claim that you review only the cream of the crop. I think that's giving yourselves too much credit *and* too much responsibility at the same time. Unless you're trying out Every. Single. Game. that comes out weekly, regardless of whether it looks good or even playable, I don't think you can really make the claim that your reviews represent the absolute best. That's the kind of pretending your subjective opinions are objective that I think you're trying hard to avoid. What you're actually doing, I think, is taking your best shot at picking the most notable and interesting games that catch your attention. With how many games come out for this platform, I don't think you can completely eliminate the risk of skipping a hidden gem that flies in under the radar because its name, icon, and description make it look like shovelware. And on the other hand, if you set a quantifiable hard criteria for what's worth a review (e.g., popularity on the App Store), you're stuck reviewing every POS social game that tops the chart, regardless of whether you think it's rubbish or worth your time.

    I think a better goal (and a more accurate and reasonable statement of intent), is that you set out to review the most interesting or notable games *that get your attention*. That accounts for outright ignoring the tons of (obvious) knockoffs and ripoffs that come out weekly, while still giving yourselves an out if you miss a good one. And it also allows you to skip a boring chart topper, or take it down a peg, at your discretion. You're not omniscient, and that's OK.

    That said, I enjoy your reviews and look forward to more.

    • Andrew Fretz

      It's a bit pedantic to take "we target the cream of the crop" and conflate it to "we never miss any game that is worth playing. ever."

      Especially when the article outright says "We're in an incredibly unique situation that we can choose to ignore everything that's bad and still not have enough bandwidth to possibly post about everything that’s good on the App Store."

      • xerosided

        Fair enough, but when the article sets out to address criticism of its review process by explaining the sheer volume of material and (apparently) being as clear and transparent as possible about the process of sorting the wheat from the chaff, using hyperbole like that seems like a bit of a misstep.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        I've already come to grips with the fact that it's literally impossible for me to make everyone happy. 🙂

      • xerosided

        I'm pretty satisfied, personally. I don't always agree with everything you say (about games or about the industry in general), but I have always been able to get what I need from this site, vis-a-vis reviews and curated lists of games worth checking out, plus a community to discuss issues and/or hang out with, without difficulty. I don't think anyone can reasonably ask for more than that. And if they do, screw 'em.

      • Andrew Fretz

        it's only clear and transparent if you read the whole article 😉

      • xerosided

        So we can agree that we've both read it? Great! 😛

      • Andrew Fretz

        Probably not unless you intentionally told Eli to say something he already said in the article.

      • xerosided

        You've made your point about pedantry and illustrated it well. You can put the claws away now; Eli is perfectly capable of defending himself if he feels the need.

      • Tallgeese

        I keep sayin' it. There really needs to be some sort of Nidhogg-esque duel game for mobile specifically to settle these type of ...discussions. You just type in an email and BOOM! A duel to the death with spinal swords!

      • xerosided

        Maybe Rock Paper Scissors instead?

      • Tallgeese

        I prefer the carnage and pants-pooping excitement of two men trying to stab each other, thank you. I will accept an actual fight with rock, paper, and scissors tho...

      • Tallgeese

        Bonus points if it's Harry Potter related...

      • xerosided

        Would that be Finger Potion then?

      • Tallgeese

        A wonderful suggestion but sadly taken. Murder Duel: Let's Us Decide or MuDLUD has that awkward not quite English quality and somewhat nordic sounding acronymnom that I require! But ya, FP does sound a lot more HP than MuDLUD...

      • Tallgeese

        All we want is a zoo cam to be installed in the bathrooms at "Tappy Junction" and unfettered access to all of your internal emails. Is that really too much to ask?

  • https://www.facebook.com/rossmanbrothersgames RossmanBrosGames

    Great Article! Should maybe be giving a link somewhere on the front page for future readers.

    • xerosided

      Maybe something in the About section. Is there an About section? I haven't been to the actual site in ages. The app is wonderful.

  • Milotorou

    Great article Eli !

    For myself 5 stars was always a "if this kind of game is the kind you like, this one is one of the best of its kind available on the app store"

    At the end of the day, enjoyment is relative, candy crush for some people is the best game ever, even if i hate it. The game itself is undeniably done right.

    Maybe a "recommend-o-meter" as you called it, with 5 different steps instead of 4 like your example, would work. Im thinking something along the lines of : 1-Avoid 2-Try only if you really like this gendre 3- Try it 4-Buy it 5-Absolute blast to play

    • Tallgeese

      My deranged uncle Broswish was killed in an "absolute blast," I'll thank you kindly to refrain from using it in a positive context from now on. Gasoline Fight accidents can happen to anyone.

      • Milotorou

        Uhhhhh, wait, what ?

      • Tallgeese


      • Tallgeese

        You know what you did...er...last summer...er something...

      • Andrew Fretz

        Tallgeese has been having a rough winter, we're hoping he'll be ok.

      • xerosided

        I don't understand half of what he's saying but it's all entertaining to say the least. So... success?

      • Tallgeese

        And with that Samuel the InstanceBai Whale thought, "there's a little poop in all of us!" And his tiny black whale heart grew two sizes that day! But his thirst for the blood of sailors and their wooden toys stayed pretty much the same... unsated.

      • Tallgeese

        None of these solid snake games prepared me for babysitting...

  • Neal Deep

    TA is just other gaming sites. Give games low scores and you won't get free games to review before they come out.

  • squirpe

    Two things usually make me more likely to click on a review. a) if it's a high profile game or b) if it has 5 (possibly 4 or 4.5) stars.

    So I for one am glad the stars are there.

  • http://aggromagnetgames.com/ Aggro Magnet Games

    So Vigil RPG is in the top 99.4th percentile of all games on the App Store! Not bad!

    On the other hand, it's too bad that even a paid/premium iOS game that's in the 99.4th percentile can't make any money. 🙂

  • ineptidude

    Why don't you just minimize the rating's presence? Has any review site tried that yet? Gamers get so flustered because they don't read anything and just look at the frickin scores.
    Just bury the rating in the article somewhere so people have to read the whole thing before figuring out what the score is. Then by that point they've been tricked into understanding why the reviewer chose what he did

  • longpause

    Good words dude, good words.

  • Daniel Schroeder

    [insert Daniel Bryan gif]


  • NickyNichols

    Remember Limbo!!

  • unexpect3rd

    Nice article.

    Something interesting to share, I don't really read every review that gets posted on TA, but at times, the stars given in a particular review might make me want to click in and read up out of curiosity. Its usually on the end of the spectrums though, eg A game that was pretty hyped getting a > 3, I'd be interested to read how it fell. Or a little known title from unknown dev getting a 5. These are usually interesting reads, to me at least.

    Otherwise, being a developer myself, i know the stars rating a game gets, no matter on review sites or in the stores, is irrelevant to whether a person would enjoy the game. Especially the rating in the stores, too many fckuing rating trolls.

  • Spudboy2012

    At the end of the day - arrrgh!

  • nini

    Guess I'm more surprised you need to justify your ratings than anything really but probably happens to every reviewer by readers who just don't get you.

  • bearcav

    Very informative on how the scale works for the site, I didn't know that. Thanks for the transparency!

  • Lochheart

    Do it like Anandtech, give no score.
    People who read Toucharchade just read, they don't need a score.

  • DeNappa

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought you don't only review the 'cream of the crop', but also some of the high profile games. And in those cases it *can* be a train wreck, right? (In which case a 0-1 star might be appropriate)

  • delirium38

    Always liked the way Edge magazine rated games.
    They only give out a handful tens over the course of their existence to mark the really special games. Halo getting a 10 made me buy an X-Box and never regretted it.
    And if you give out a lot of five star reviews, why not add a little picture of a similar game to show that certain game is same, worse or better (like Games TM magazine).
    Especially with certain genres dominating on IOS this would be a welcome addition.
    Off course it's all subjective, but it can help when deciding to buy another Rogue clone or endless runner.

  • Saberkin

    I appreciate that this matter was explained/clarified and put into perspective.

  • Autofire

    Thanks Eli, very interesting - I can't believe there's half a million iOS games out there! Just curious how metacritic translates, for instance, a one star review from this site - in most circumstances i imagine one star would come out as about 20/100, but clearly here it should be more like about 60... were you able to communicate about this with them?

  • rhinofinger

    Good article, guys. Keep up the good work. I rely on and trust your ratings. They've both stopped me from making purchases I would have regretted and pushed me to try games I otherwise would not have known to try.

  • Qvothe1331

    I say review the games that deserve our attention. That could be incredibly good or bad games. Good because they deserve to be recognized, and bad because they probably deserve to be avoided.
    Right now a 5 star at TA doesn't mean much to me, but a 1-3 star I'd most likely avoid. I'll take the time to read what game scored a single star here.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      But the problem is people come to TouchArcade to find games they should download, not games that they shouldn't. It's very easy to find junk on the App Store- Not so easy finding actual good stuff.

      • Sterling Archer

        It’s intersting because this whole discussion, frustrating as handling the situation as a whole is, points out how much better things are as a whole.

        It also showcases how no matter what we do as a civilization, too many options and too much choice, whether that be in reference to how many games are available or how to determine what “ranking” is appropriate to what will determine if you love a game or not ends up decimating our stupid simple brains.

        It should be easy, right? Logically more choice and more granularity sounds appealing and exactly what we should be offering, and then you look at how almost every political system ends up with a two party system. Even countries like the UK and Canads where there are a slew of options, in the end it’s almost always an A or B situation.

        The biggest question now is whether we can overcome that. Or are our simple human brains just not capable? Are we forever limited to less choice, less stress, easier choosing? Having an App Store with an ever increasing number of games that has to be really really really high sounds great on paper, but in practice is virtually untenable for any human to parse through because, simply put, how? How can you know what’s right for you, how can you know it was the right time to try it? Maybe you were in a bad mood when you played the game, or it doesn’t get good until just a bit further on. Add that to this deep seeded fear of missing out and in essence you have a recipe for disaster.

        I look at something like Rick and Morty in this way. Finally gave it a chance a year or two ago and just didn’t connect. Felt like it was just the wrong show for me and gave up. Guy overheard me talking about it in a comic store and strongly urged me to push through. Then just a few months past saw a YouTube channel having college kids reacting to rick and morty, and after watching it decided to pick it up. I’ve now blown through it 3 times, and I’ve already started the commentary for the 4th go through.

        How do you know? You can’t. What if you miss out on something spectacular? That fear, that fear drives us but it does so in such deeply and frustratingly unhelpful ways.

  • bigghurt

    Maybe stop calling them reviews and maybe just call them TouchArcade picks?? Maybe get freelancers to do reviews(and by freelancers I mean forum posters that wouldn't mind doing it for review codes or free?)

  • Reign

    Wouldn't a true solution to the be to reevaluate the scoring system so what use to be a 6 would be more like a 8 today? I mean there aren't truly many mobile titles I'd personally give higher then an 8 anyway

  • runesnatcher

    Here's and idea: do away with your star system, and start titling articles that are reviews like this - "why you should buy X game" "why you probably shouldn't buy X game" "why you should consider buying X game".