What PC Gamers Think About PC Game Critics

I just noticed this while looking for a specific game review.  These are screenshots of the “top rated games” for PC on Metacritic(.com), as of 11:30pm on October 8th, 2012.  You’ll notice that many of the top-rated games according to the critics (such as Diablo III, Max Payne 3) are in roughly the opposite position, according to user ratings.  I’ve noticed a trend of virtually any “AAA” (large-budget) game that’s released getting “universal acclaim” from critics no matter how much users hate it.  Of course, there are a few games that the critics and users largely agree upon–but is it by virtue of good critique or just random chance?  How many such games are “AAA” titles?  Have you ever seen a Metacritic page where a large-budget game gets universal shame from the critics?  I’m pretty sure I haven’t.  By contrast, user reviews seem to “blast” any game that’s genuinely awful–with very little regard for how much money was put into making it, or how good its ad campaign was.

This has bugged me for a long time: why are the game critics so often very, very wrong? I’ve spent a fair bit of money in the past on games that were supposed to be quite good, according to game critics, only to find that they were utter garbage (recent Call of Duty titles, anyone?).  Can you enumerate the money you’ve wasted on such games?  Don’t even get me started on pre-purchases…

So, what do you think?  Are the critics somehow being paid/bribed by game makers, or are their tastes simply very biased against what most PC gamers like?