We've recently been receiving a high volume of questions and concerns about our Hall of Fame listing, specifically in regards to these four titles: Persona 5 Royal, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Kentucky Route Zero, and Resident Evil 2. The short response to these questions is that the Hall of Fame is reserved for new, original titles; DLCs, expansions, remakes, remasters, episodes, and bundles are not eligible for the Hall of Fame. However, there's more nuance here than this hard rule.
Several members of the OpenCritic founding team came from game development. Anyone who's worked in development knows how challenging and complicated it is to create a game. Several different disciplines, talents, and creations must come together in just the right ways. Artists, engineers, level designers, gameplay designers, animators, narrative writers, voice actors, environment artists, production, QA testing, sound design, and more all contribute to these games.
When we created the Hall of Fame, we wanted it to represent the best games across all disciplines, not just a few. We wanted it to represent special moments for the industry: that special moment when everything, finally, comes together and you've knocked it out of the park. Many people in the industry call it "going gold."
Our actual policy is this:
The OpenCritic Hall of Fame is reserved for new games that introduce substantial, original elements across nearly all disciplines of game development. DLCs, expansions, remasters, episodes, bundles, and new editions are generally ineligible.
In general, this policy is pretty easy to implement. DLCs and expansions generally score much lower than base games and rarely make a splash. Most people view new editions, such as Fallout 4 or Nier Automata, as re-releases and not new games. Collections of older titles also rarely hit "Mighty" levels and are also generally perceived as re-releases.
But not everyone always agrees on this policy. Around the launch of OpenCritic, there was controversy over The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine's exclusion from the 2016 Hall of Fame despite it winning Game of the Year awards. Our policy then is the same it is now: while a lot of work went into the expansion, the expansion also inherited a lot of work from its base game.
One area we proceed with nuance is episodic titles. In general, we don't allow individual episodes to be eligible for the Hall of Fame. However, we do typically allow the final episode's release to trigger eligibility. In these cases, the complete package or final episode are eligible for the Hall of Fame, choosing whichever has more reviews. Two examples of this are 2016's Hitman, where the full season received more reviews than its final episode, and Tales from the Borderlands, where the last episode received more reviews than the whole season (and was included in the 2015 Hall of Fame). This is why Kentucky Route Zero is listed in the 2020 Hall of Fame; its final episode launched in 2020, and we've given it eligibility as a result.
The more tricky cases are games like Final Fantasy VII Remake and Resident Evil 2. Both of these games are, in many ways, built on incredible foundations developed in the 1990s. If that's the case, do they really meet the spirit of the Hall of Fame requirements? We believe the answer is "yes." In our opinion, these games go so far that they represent substantial development efforts, with every part of the original game being scrutinized, changed, and iterated on.
Why not Persona 5 Royal, then? In our opinion, this game doesn't meet the same standard. Most of the story, gameplay, environments, character art, sound design, game engine, narrative, script, voice acting, and animations are identical to 2017's Persona 5.
Here are some things we looked at (emphasis added):
Almost three years after Persona 5 first launched in the West, the enhanced and expanded Persona 5 Royal is out today. (vg247)
Persona 5 Royal is the definitive version of an already brilliant RPG (The Verge)
Persona 5 Royal is essentially the same game with a few tweaks and additions. (Mashable)
Persona 5 Royal review: A great game gets an even better second draft (Polygon)
We fully admit that this is a grey area where reasonable people can disagree. It's hard to draw a bold line for where a remake suddenly crosses the threshold to Hall of Fame eligibility, which is why we evaluate each game on a case-by-case basis. We hope to be consistent in this policy, but we also understand that it's a rare area where OpenCritic administrator's judgment plays a role (something we try hard to avoid). We like that people are passionate about the Hall of Fame and get excited for when their favorite games and developers hit it out of the park.
Please keep the feedback coming, but also keep in mind our intention to recognize complete bodies of original work by game development teams.