What Do Review Scores Mean on GameSkinny?

What do the review scores on Gameskinny mean? Here's a review score rubric to help you figure that out.

A game appears on the right sidebar, promising to be an 8. But what does that number mean? How do writers on GameSkinny quantify all that makes a game excellent (from game mechanics to story, from graphics to fun) into a simple single digit number? 

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GameSkinny uses a 10 point scale, whole points only. Ideally a score is simply a summary of a larger, more in-depth review. It should not be surprising when a game receives a four or a ten, as it should be clear in reading the overall article that the game was not a great experience.

With that in mind, here is our guide for game scores on GameSkinny. 


Falls into the “must play” category. 

A ten is not, interestingly enough, a perfect game. It is the highest point on the scale, but no game is without flaw. Every game will have moments of failure, and even those can still be classified as a 10 on the scale. A ten means this game falls into the “must play” category. This game redefines a genre and will inform other games that follow, the kind that becomes a piece of the overall conversation about games. Very few games should fit this category. 


Executes a known concept exceptionally well.

A nine is a game that you would suggest with no caveats, but is not a must play. This is a game that maybe doesn’t redefine its genre, but executes a known concept well. It is a game that reaches for the stars, and maybe fails on some points, but is overall a competent execution of its strengths. This is a game that will be remembered fondly later. 


Memorable, enjoyable, generally recommended.

An eight is a competent game, but it is recommended with some considerations in mind. It is a game that executes a single concept masterfully, from brilliant graphic design to characters that linger on long after the game is gone. But it is not the ultimate example in it’s genre. There are better games, but it is a game that will be remembered and enjoyed. 


Good, but not great.

A seven is where the game may be good, but is lacking in some serious aspects. It cannot be recommended without consideration. It could be a game that simply rehashes an old concept, or finds itself ultimately falling short at a brilliant concept. 


Just alright.

A six is an uneven game, which a player should not attempt without knowing some of the failings. A 6-star game will have parts that are well done, but the whole experience ultimately will feel lacking. Games that could fall into this category may have good concept executed poorly, uneven characters, or games only a fan of the genre would love.


Not particularly memorable overall. 

The game is middling, bland, and/or mediocre. It could fail in one regard but do well in others – but chances are that this is a game which fails to excite and that contributes little, overall. This is a game that will not be remembered with much fondness, but will not be hated either. This is a game defined by its mediocrity. 


Not great, good, or even pretty okay.

This is a game that may have some good ideas, but ultimately fails on some of the more important aspects. While some fours are just all around less than mediocre, most of them will fail in a specific way more than the others, either in design, conception, creativity, or functionality. Functionality is key however, and will be touched on again at the lowest score.


 The bad vastly outweighs the good. 

The bright spots in this game are nearly impossible to see and may be limited to a single moment. Chances are this game fails on more than one of the aforementioned traits: design, conception, creativity, and functionality.


Prepare for a truly awful experience.

This game is probably only worth mentioning in terms of why not to play it. The only bright spot to this game is that it is still playable, and frankly that is a pewter lining to a supposedly silver cloud. A determined player can still finish this game, but their sanity and taste level would be severely questioned. A game could also reach this level by being of incredibly poor taste or intentionally offensive — as well as being without merit. 


The game doesn’t work – literally.

This game is not playable. This does not mean that the game is not enjoyable, this is a review for a game that is simply non-functional. For whatever reason, the writers at GameSkinny cannot make the game work. Levels are falling apart, glitches run amok. For whatever reason, this game was shipped and it finds itself completely failing on even the most basic level — functionality. 

Hardware and Services

Occasionally on GameSkinny we’ll do reviews for hardware and services that are specific to the gaming industry. This will include things like the Cards Against Humanity‘s 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit or the latest gaming mouse or periphreal. The review rubrick is transferrable for hardware, though if you have any questions be sure to ask in the feedback tab or on this article. 

When writing a review on hardware or service, make sure to go to review type and select “Other” and write what your review is on. Be as specific as possible. 

Things We Will Not Accept Reviews On

For the most part, the things we will not accept reviews on are fairly straightforward. We do, however, have a list of things that we will not accept: 

  • Patch Reviews
  • Gameplay Footage Reviews
  • Trailer Reviews
  • Demos
  • Character Reviews

You can write first impressions and in-progress previews about Early Access or beta versions of games, as long as they do not fall under the header of “Review” but rather “Culture” and you explicitly mention what state they are in. It’s unethical and confusing to review a game that has not yet been officially released, as there are pretty sizeable changes that are made during a beta, alpha, or Early Access stage. 


As with all articles, in reviews, we strive to avoid conflict of interest wherever possible. With that in mind, we will not accept a review of a piece of media that you have directly worked on, or that you have a personal stake in. 

Additionally, if you were supplied with a review copy of the game you need to disclose this, at the end of the article. A disclaimer can be as simple as:

Disclaimer: Review Unit K70 RGB provided by Corsair Gaming.

The important part of a disclaimer is that it exists and that it informs the reader how you obtained the copy so that they are aware of potential bias. 

Why Does a Review Score Rubric Matter? 

This grading criteria will demystify the process of reviewing games for GameSkinny readers and reviewers alike by giving clear criteria for the scoring of those games. Keep in mind that, at their heart: game reviews are subjective. Pay attention to the preferences of the person playing the game and keep your own biases in mind when you review. Additionally, over time, keep in mind that games may change for better or worse. Game reviews are limited in scope to the moment at which they are published, and, while they can point to the overall quality of the game, they cannot necessarily speak to the changes over time. 

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Amanda Wallace
Former rugby player, social media person, and occasional writer.