Date: April 28, 2023
You probably haven’t heard of Crit-Rate. It is no surprise — the service just launched about a month ago at PAX East — but it is a shame, because it seems poised to be the next great tool for gamers. It markets itself simply: it is a game recommendation service and community tailored to individual users. It uses a variety of metrics and ratings from other similar gamers in order to recommend games to you based on what other, similar gamers are playing. And, for what it’s worth, they seem to have gotten everything right so far; it’s just a matter of time before it gains steam and becomes a true platform of community recommendation.
Of course, there have been other attempts to create tailored game recommendation services in the past, and none of those have really caught on yet. Both Games Finder and Quantic Foundry’s recommendation service see you typing in the name of a game (or games) and getting results for “similar” games, there are numerous forums and subreddits dedicated to asking a community for game recommendations, and the ol’ Top 10 listicle (which, yes, we’ve been guilty of making before) is inescapable. But none of those have really caught fire, becoming a centerpiece for games recommendations.
But, with Crit-Rate, one just might. So, what’s the difference? What makes me confidently say that Crit-Rate has all the right stuff to become “Letterboxd for video games,” where all of those other attempts have barely amounted to anything? Well, this:
Crit Rate’s pitch doesn’t just take keywords from a game’s genre tags to generate a list of superficially similar games, nor does it rely exclusively on direct replies to inquiries in order to give recommendations. Instead, it matches you with a “gamer house” of like-minded gamers who share the same tastes as you, and then uses the ratings from those players (and yourself) as a font for recommendations. Furthermore, it means that the reviews on the site will also be paired with the same house, so that if you want to read a more comprehensive suggestion, you know whether or not the person telling you about it shares your sensibilities. No more buying “the best game this year” only to find out it’s not the best game for you.
After all, not every gamer is built the same; someone who likes to be competitive will probably never be interested in a single-player narrative “interactive experience”, no matter how good it is. And someone who likes to 100% every game they play might not be thrilled to hear about how amazing the latest military shooter (which takes 1000+ hours to get everything in) is. Which is why Crit-Rate’s system works. It’s houses are logically divided, and you are sorted into them according to a very in-depth survey which gives you even deep, more specific insight into your preferences. If there is a way to divide gamers by preference, we’re pretty sure Crit-Rate has found it.
So, after all this, it might be fair to ask, “Is Crit-Rate the game recommendation service of the future?” And the answer is “Quite possibly.” Right now, it is small enough that, even with it’s great concept, it needs more users before it can really flourish — it is, after all, based on community recommendations, and for a community that is divided by 5. But, if it is able to get that influx of users, then I have little doubt that it can amount to more than any of its predecessors.
I could see reviewers in the future putting one of their five houses in their author descriptions to help readers gauge their opinions. I could see developers labeling their games with which houses they are trying to appeal to. And, most importantly, I can see people thinking of Crit-Rate first when it’s time to ask what to play next. I don’t know that Crit-Rate will be the next big thing, but I do think it has the potential to be. Maybe you’ll see that little Ascendiary symbol next to my name after my next review…