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Game Reviews Don't Matter, Study Finds 94

Posted by Zonk
from the please-proceed-with-the-duh-tag dept.
Next Generation has an article up looking at a report from SIG, on the correlation between game reviews and sales. Their findings indicate that, while reviews obviously do have some effect on games sold, there just isn't that much of a correlation. From the article: "He said he doubted that publishers and PRs would stop caring about review scores, especially as they matter a lot with consumers who compare games from the same sub-genre — say, basketball games. But he said that, as with last year's report, the report's findings are unlikely to be popular. 'We received a lot of attention but the stats do not lie,' he said."
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Game Reviews Don't Matter, Study Finds

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  • by Enoxice (993945) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:30PM (#16149384) Journal
    I tend to read about games through, for example, their website, previews, beta-tester forums, etc. I make a decision about whether or not a game is worth my money on my own, go out and buy it, play it, then think "hmm...that was [fun/stupid]. I wonder what other people think about it." Then and only then do I go and read reviews.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by 1010110010 (1002553)

      I usually read the reviews before buying, but it has very little impact on whether or not I'm going to get the game. The only exception I can think of would be for games I've never heard of. For example: I didn't follow the release of 'Shadow of the Colossus', I'd never heard of it before reading reviews, and the reviews made me want to go out and play it.

      They can throw whatever horrible review they want at it, but the fact is I'm fairly certain I'm going to purchase 'Final Fantasy XII' anyway.

      • Yeah, I pretty much know what I want before it even comes out, and not due to their PR shill previews, but because I have a good feel for what I, in particular, like. Then I wait half a year or so for it to come down to a reasonable price, and I take a look at the reader reviews to see if my expectations lined up with reality. If it's still a go, I buy the game.

        I used to make exceptions and buy certain games as soon as they came out... but they're not as important to me anymore, so I'm still holding off on
        • by cloricus (691063)
          I agree and I'd like to add the reason I ignore game reviews is because they are rarely honest. I have never seen a review of HL2 saying "I disliked this game" or even anything close...It's like the whole review area for games is being bought out by the companies releasing the games. I just don't trust them.
          • it's not 'like' - it IS because the reviews are being bought by the companies releasing the games, either by preferential treatment for said review site / magazine (early preview screenshots which sell copies, exclusive demo downloads) or straight up cash (marketing for the most part).

            Fileplanet is the worst of this crew.

            The worst part about this whole self-perpetuating scam is that in many publisher contracts, developer bonuses are specifically linked to their games recieving good reviews on gamerankings.c
      • They can throw whatever horrible review they want at it, but the fact is I'm fairly certain I'm going to purchase 'Final Fantasy XII' anyway.

        FFXII has gotten some good reviews, too, especially in Japan. Famitsu gave it a perfect 40. Also, a good reviewer will give enough detail that you'll be able to figure out if you'd like the game even if the reviewer doesn't (or vice versa). I generally read a lot of reviews before buying a game to figure out if it's worth $50. I don't want to buy another X-2.

  • by ucahg (898110) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:32PM (#16149402)
    n/t
  • ...I tend to identify quality with specific companies. For example, anything Nintendo cranks out is worth a look, especially in their long-running franchises. Anything Valve Software releases is in my Steam list purchased the day of release, if not preloaded before then.

    Of course for those games that don't have this advantage, the best way is simply based on word-of-mouth and also watching the game being played.

  • Pre-release hype (Score:2, Insightful)

    by daranz (914716)
    Seems to me that for every major game release out there, there's tons of pre-release hype generated by both the publisher, and the websites/magazines that end up reviewing the game. Screenshots, videos, interviews, all that serves to hype up the game. That hype often ends up being the reason for which people choose to buy the particular game. The whole pre-ordering system makes it even more common. Many people buy the game on the day it comes out, without paying too much attention to the reviews (many of wh
  • by CaseM (746707) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:40PM (#16149466)
    Especially when rubbish like Enter the Matrix [gamerankings.com] sells tons of carts regardless of actual review scores.

    There's a hardcore segment out there that scrutinizes every scrap of information, for sure, but most games are still purchased by Grandma and Grandpa for little Joey because of the title, genre, or franchise, not because of an aggregate score somewhere in cyberspace.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      As a person who worked for a videogame retailer when Enter the Matrix was 'Coming Soon...', I can tell you that there was a huge push to get reservations for that game. Of course that was fed by the rest of the hype surrounding that game, and just about all other movie tie-in games. Almost any suggestion that the employees make to customers resulted in, at the least, a more thorough consideration by the customer, if not an outright sale.
    • You know, some people liked that game. Except for those god-awful driving levels...
    • by PaulMorel (962396)

      The reviewers were wrong about Enter the Matrix. At least the PC version. The game is a good game, the only thing wrong with it is that you can literally beat it in a 3 hour sitting. I still replayed it a couple times.

      I just wanted to give my 2 cents. And, incidentally, I'm not a green gamer; I play all genres of games (MMOs, FPSs, RTSs, Puzzlers ... etc) on consoles and on the PC.

  • marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aleksiel (678251) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:40PM (#16149475)
    popularity is usually based on marketing, not on reviews.

    sucky games (dirge of cerberus) do well with good marketing (commercials, ads, et. al.). good games with little/no marketing don't usually do nearly as well (not that they don't do well at all, just that they lose some of their potential).

    a large enough portion of the market doesn't read reviews and bases their purchases off of the "coolness" factor of the game, instead of the quality. if a commercial or ad can make the game look cool, then they're all over it.
    • by Supurcell (834022)
      Most stores tend to stock many copies of the most hyped titles while only ordering one(if you're lucky) copy of the games that don't have tv and magazine ads. It seems every time I go to EB Games in search of something I read a killer review of from a small company, I leave with nothing.
  • They do not lie (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dcapel (913969) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:41PM (#16149477) Homepage
    'We received a lot of attention but the stats do not lie,' he said."

    What was that saying again? Something about lies, damn lies, and statistics?
    • by snowgirl (978879)
      Heh, that came to my mind, too, while reading that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jerf (17166)
      Properly-created statistics never lie. They just tell useless truths, and then even if you're competent to judge the value of a statistic, it's extremely rare to be told the full statistic.

      (That is, "70% of murderers hate their mothers" is not useful unless you know the definition of "murderer", the definition of "hate", even the definition of "mother" (would a step-mother who raised the murderer since he was two be a "mother"?), and how they were sampled. Even in this simple example, you can see why statis
  • by Rifter13 (773076) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:45PM (#16149512) Homepage
    A lower than expected or higher than expected review from a major game site, can generate hundreds of posts on Evil Avatar, or Gamespy, or bluesnews. I think that the need for reviews are not as great as they used to be, before the internet. I am sure that a lot of people get an idea of what a game is about, in previews. The secret to reading reviews, is to find a reviewer that likes the same games you do. :-)
  • by c0d3h4x0r (604141) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:45PM (#16149518) Homepage Journal
    The interesting thing here is that the study only looked at reviews versus sales.

    It said nothing about reviews (written by magazines, etc) versus consumer opinions (or user reviews). It also said nothing about consumer opinions versus sales.

    In my experience, reviews written by reviewers generally align pretty well with what consumers think of the game, while sales have little to do with either. In short, sales seem to have little to do with how good a game actually is. Sales seem to correlate more with things like movie and cartoon and brand tie-ins to a game, distribution methods, price point, and other such factors. All of this is really no big surprise, since the game industry has always successfully relied on churning out such drivel and it has obviously worked pretty well for them most of the time.

    A more interesting thing to study would be what percentage of sales are purchases made by people who know nothing about games and won't be playing the games themselves... such as parents and grandparents choosing games as gifts for kids, etc. I bet they make up more than 50% of sales.

    Remember when the Atari era went bust and the bottom of the video games market completely dropped out? My theory is that it was because the industry stopped creating any good-quality games, having realized from experience that they could just produce well-branded crap and rely on all those gullible non-gamer sales. I think the problem is that when the market floods with crap, the gamers (who ultimately receive those games from the purchasers) completely lose interest in games and stop asking their parents to buy them more. So then the purchasers stop buying completely.

    In other words, a sufficient minority of titles must continue to be of good quality for the industry to sustain itself, but once that sufficient minority is met, the rest can be crap and the industry can thrive off the crap. The industry then foolishly thinks all it needs to produce is the crap, which kills demand completely, which kills the whole industry.

    • by Rifter13 (773076)
      Jeeze, I have to agree with this! Beyond Good and Evil, Battle Zone, Heretic 2, Tribes... all great games, hailed with much critcal acclaim, and faild miserablly. I hear Psychonauts and Sacrafice are the same. (I did not play those 2). A good review, in NO way means good sales. A bad review, in no means bad sales.
      • While I don't know the sales figures of BattleZone and Tribes, they did both receive sequels, so they couldn't have been utter failures. Grim Fandango was supposedly the only game in Lucasarts' history that didn't produce any profits, and I think that's a pretty good example of reviews not correlating with sales figures.
  • Incorrect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sigma 7 (266129) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:47PM (#16149533)
    Game reviews do matter - its called word of mouth. Terms such as "clickfest", "pushover" and "tedious" are negative aspects of a game that you should avoid.

    If you want a list of things that a good review should look for, all you have to do is find lists of Cliches [project-apollo.net] and reviews that make note of them. There are similar lists for strategy and action games - but common components among all such lists involve being railroaded through events outside of the players control (e.g. is captured by 3 units after taking out 2000 soldiers), or events that are obvious enough to be traps but the player is forced to go through them to advance the plot.
    • I'm sure everyone would agree that Half Life was a terrible game. I seem to remember several examples in there of what you describe - if anything, despite the silliness, it enhanced the cinematic feel and the coolness factor of the title.
  • At least in my experience, past success of a franchise (as mentoned in the article) is probably a better indicator of whether I will buy a game... I usually only read reviews if I'm for some reason undecided about a game. I do not buy that many games (having a job seems to interfere with my ability to play too many of them), so when I do it's usually based on something other than someone else's opinion.

    I think these days you have two groups of people

    1) buy games the day they come out because they have for
  • Well duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raehl (609729) <raehl311@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:49PM (#16149554) Homepage
    Newsflash: Can't predict the future based on one criteria.

    Hell, the article doesn't even say that there isn't a correlation between good reviews and good games, just that it's not a reliable predictor of sales. Well duh. Maybe things like number of consoles in the market for that game, or marketing, or whether its a sequal, or the price, or whether it's released in May or during the holiday season, might all play a role.

    We expect that the same game with good reviews will perform better than that same game with poor reviews. The article confirms that expectation, while trying to sound like it's conclusion is surprising. It's not.

    Some people will buy a Pokemon game no matter how bad the review is. This is obvious. Doing a study that confirms it doesn't change that it's obvious and your study is just an excuse to fill some pages under the guise of 'news'.
    • by russellh (547685)
      the in-betwee-the-lines conclusion of the study is that it's a waste of money and resources for game publishers to bribe/own game reviewers.
  • by Gamingboy (901447) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:51PM (#16149566)
    Let me tell you a story. There was a game I had been long anticipating, a game I was so psyched about. I was, I must admit, young and naive, I had never played a truly bad game before, I didn't think 'bad' games existed, other then the Edutainment games. I got the game the day it came out. The game was Superman 64. I have never bought a game (other then sequels and launch titles) without reading a review ever since.
    • I hear you. Just replace "Superman 64" with "Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness".

      The first and last game I ever pre-ordered. Horribly scarred for life. And just for perspective, I'm 35 years old.
    • You need to watch out on sequals when some new company comes into the picture. No matter how much you love some game or some series, and no matter how fantastic the new sequel sounds during the development process, don't get suckered into pre-ordering when someone new is running the development.

      One gigantic red flag is if they ever say anything to the general effect that the new release will appeal to a "Wider Audience". That is the kiss-of-death for a sequal to beloved game. The more you love a game, the m
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @04:51PM (#16149571) Homepage

    I don't buy many games (mostly I rent because most games are worth the $$$). If I REALLY want a game (New Mario, Guitar Hero) I'll just buy it ("Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"). But if I want a game but I'm not that set, I'll wait for the reviews. If the review seems positive (no major flaws, still sounds fun) then I tend to buy the game. If not (bugs, doesn't sound fun, etc) then I don't.

    I don't buy games just because of reviews though.

    For the record, I get most of my reviews from X-Play (which I watch all new episodes of). I also check specific games on GameSpot and IGN.

    A demo is FAR more likely to change my opinion of a game than a review, but I like having reviews around to see what is happening with games I don't tend to play (sports games) and to save me from buying a piece of junk that won't be that fun.

    However, I can tell you that my little sister and her friends (all about 14) don't read reviews at all. They are just mindless consumers. "I liked spider man/the hulk, I'll get that game". "That football game looks like it might be fun". Mostly we rent (so many games are terrible) but they don't even consider reviews before renting (not their money, I guess).

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You might (want to) check and (make sure) your keybard (is working) correctly.
    • Though I hardly ever have time for X-Play, I often get to see electric playground and Reviews on the Run with Tommy and Vic. Personally I find their shows to be unbaised based entirely on their own biases. Basically, for anyone who hasn't seen the shows, the two of them have entirely different preferences and playstyles, Tommy tends to like action and platform games whereas Vic likes strategy and thinking games. So for any given review you find yourself aligning to one or the other, which in my opinion, is
  • Im old enough to remember both Siskel and Ebert totally throttling Star Wars, reviewers cannot review without bias nor should they be expected to. Everyone has different tastes and will always use what they like, are familiar with and are comfortable with as their benchmark. A madden fan for instance isnt going to review a non madden football game as highly simply because the controls and feel of the game are different. Games that are concidered complete crap to many will still find a market that loves t
    • Im old enough to remember both Siskel and Ebert totally throttling Star Wars,
      You're old enough to be a senile.

      Ebert loved Star Wars. [suntimes.com]
      • by timster (32400)
        Heck, Ebert gave three and a half stars to Episode One. The man has been a sucker for Star Wars from day one.
    • A madden fan for instance isnt going to review a non madden football game as highly simply because the controls and feel of the game are different.

      Of course a football game not based on the Madden engine is going to play completely differently. If it's not Madden, then by EA's exclusive license, it's not NFL, and if it's not NFL, it's more likely association football than American football.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      More recently, Ebert game Napoleon Dynamite like 1.5 out of 4 stars. I think pretty much everyone agrees that the movie is better than that. From reading the review, it seemed to me that Ebert basically missed the entire point of it.
      • by grapeape (137008)
        That actually proves the point even more...my kids love Napoleon Dynamite but I think 1 1/2 stars was being generous. I remember leaving the theatre thinking that they sure dont make teen movies like they used to. Different strokes I guess...
        • by Nizer (946398)
          ...they sure dont make teen movies like they used to.
          That and the fact that you're (presumably) not a teen anymore.
      • by HAKdragon (193605)
        The thing about Napoleon Dynamite is that it was supposed to my type of movie. I love quirky independent films with an odd sense of humor. When I finally saw Napoleon Dyanamite, I couldn't understand what was so great about it. Granted there were some scenes that I thought were funny, but hearing "Vote for Pedro" and "Idiot!" over and over by people who normally don't like those types of films seemed only to annoy.
        • by grapeape (137008)
          That was my problem with it as well. It would have made a great short, but it evidently has quite a following..i was modded down simply for stating that I didnt care for it :)
      • by Gulthek (12570)
        What, pray tell, was the point of that movie? It was mildly amusing at points, but I don't see why it gathered such a rabid fanbase.
  • For about 2-3 years now i've been waiting for reviews of games to come out (it only takes ~3 days), because i've had some bad experiences. I used to buy the Official PS1/2 Magazine, and loosely base my purchases on what i saw there. Then i started getting good games that were too short, or crappy long games, or both (of bad), or just insatisfactory in their whole.

    These days i usually read reviews on IGN, GameSpy, Gamespot and a copuple more here and there, and specifically look for comments regarding length
  • I have to admit I was skeptical at first, but it is true. The actual report shows graphings and such on games and to be honest games just don't bust out. Great games with high ranks do sell more, but not every game with high ranks will sell a lot, and some will undersell the curve.

    There's many more factors, the biggest being name brand recognition or movie tie in. Cars can be as bad as hell but people will buy it for their kids. The flip flop is the company name. I'll buy most anything from nintendo ov
  • While I'd like to see more detailed data, the conclusion seems plausible enough. But I'm curious about the long term effect of bad reviews on a franchise. For example, games like Driv3r and Enter the Matrix may have sold really well despite bad reviews, but if a game is bad people aren't going to buy the sequel, the frachise has been badly tarnished, and I don't think Driver 4 or Path of Neo sold that well (I may be wrong though). Tomb Raider is another franchise that used to be really huge but got tarnishe
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:42PM (#16149951) Homepage
    which is what the study concludes, and what should be pretty obvious if you read lots of game reviews. Game ratings are basically random numbers between 8 and 10, and where it falls in that range seems to be largely divorced from the content of the review. How many times have you read a review that said something like "the gameplay was fun for the first few levels, but quickly became monotonous and boring" but gave the game a 9.5, or one that said "despite a few minor flaws, this game is all around a lot of fun" and gave it an 8? When I'm out looking for a game, I think I'm going to weigh "monotonous gameplay" a lot more than "Overall Score: 9, Excellent!".

    I can understand them using the game rating, as it's the only obvious number you can apply to a game review and do correlations with. However just having a number doesn't mean it actually represents something, and I'm not surprised that game sales don't correlate well with a number that is basically pulled from the reviewer's ass.
    • by jesup (8690) * <randellslashdot@nOspAM.jesup.org> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:36PM (#16150288) Homepage
      [ARGH. Lost my typing (emacs bindings don't *always* work in browser text boxes. Shortened version follows]

      This was why the OLD Computer Gaming World avoided giving numeric/star ratings for so long.

      Some people consider different things when buying. Some look at a tie-in/license (parents, younger kids, non-"gamers"). Some look at genre/subject: WWII, evil-alien-shooter, cute ponies, horror. Some look at whether text of reviews (is it monotonous, etc). Some look for eye-candy or cool tech; game is secondary (anyone remember "Trespasser"?). And some look at the numeric rating closely - but not many, I'll bet.

      My guess is that of those who even look at reviews at all, most use the numeric rating just to group it into 3 bins: Run like the plague, it's ok to look at other factors, and (occasionally) look at it even if you normally wouldn't. And for those who find a game first then check reviews, the 3rd case is out, so it's basically only a "look for warning flag before pulling trigger" check.

      Who buys "Barbies playhouse" because it got a 8.8 instead of "Kill nasty aliens with cool guns" which got a 7.8? No one. Some may buy Barbies playhouse because that the sort of game they like. And others might NOT buy KNAWCG when they normally would because it got a 4.8, or because if KNAWCG got a 7.8 and "Kill nasty Nazis with cool guns" got a 9.5. But the point is that subtleties of score have almost no impact, and even gross differences of score have only moderate impact except at the very extremes.

    • by KDR_11k (778916)
      This whole "all reviews are badly rated" rethoric gets a lot of mod points but in the end it's not even true. If the games get rated 8-10 all the time you're not reading the reviews for bad games. Plenty of games get bad reviews, it's just that noone gives a damn about those games anyway unless they're so outrageously bad you just HAVE to see how bad they are. Most games are neither here nor there, neither complete crap that makes you laugh at how bad it is nor good enough to merit attention. The noise on t
      • by Chris Burke (6130)
        Reviews vary since they are subjective by definition but usually looking at a number of reviews (even if you just look at their scores on an aggregator site) should give you a pretty good idea whether the game falls into the great, good or noise brackets.

        Well that's my point -- the existence of a 1-10 rating scale, with decimal points, implies that one should be able to get better resolution than great, good, or crap. However it is the games in the "good" bracket whose scores seem to be random numbers betw
  • Reviews are nice, but the best way to decide what's good is to try them first. Download them via BitTorrent and play them for a while first.

    Yup, that's what I do before I "buy" any of my games. Yarrr!
  • They matter to me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slackmaster2000 (820067) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:13PM (#16150146)
    Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I always check the reviews before buying a game, and that silly little number does impact me. I am much more likely to buy a game with a score above 9 from the magazine and a similar user score than a game that scores below 9 in both categories. I tend to rely more on the player review numbers though, and ultimately use them to make my final decision. Actual player comments are also very nice. The whiners and the fanboys are easy to filter out, and a lot of people leave good comments about core game features that will have an impact on me. If I see the same complaints or cheers about an aspect of the game from several people, I tend to take those opinions very seriously. Likewise if I read a dozen comments about the game crashing and two comments about how the game never crashes and is awesome, then I'm going to assume the game has some issues and I might wait for the first round of patches. (I guess I'm mostly referring to gamespot, because it happened to be the game site that I found first however long ago and I don't feel like following multiple sites)

    Here's an embarassing thing to admit: if I've been looking forward to a game and it gets an 8.9, I actually feel disappointed and I might take a few weeks to make a decision. But if that game gets a 9.0, I'm much more inclined to run out and grab it. Yeah, it's dumb. It's just like I know that $49.99 is only a penny away from $50, but it feels a lot more like $40.

    One thing I realized as I was typing this is that while I'll look at the points the reviewer gives a game, I rarely ever read a professional review. They're simply too wordy and glossy. I'd rather just read some player comments about how "it sucks ass that you can't ride the donkey in multiplayer mode" than to try to discern these tidbits from the professional review.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bit01 (644603)

      I'd use online and magazine reviews and comments if I could but they're so badly polluted by fraud and astroturfers that it's pointless.

      That's why reviews have very little effect on sales; such a large percentage have no correlation with the actual quality of the game that people rightly ignore them.

      Word of mouth from people I trust is it. I do not trust the vast majority of marketing parasites.

      ---

      The majority of modern marketing is nothing more than an arms race to get mind share. Everybody loses

    • by Don_dumb (927108)
      Perhaps because I dont buy many games I do take heed of the reviews, not necessarily the final score but some of the summary notes that give me a clue if this is the kind of game I want to play. If a reviewer does something like a FFS and says stuff like "lots of stealth", then I am put off, or say that it is manly about the multiplayer aspect then I am also put off.
      World Of Warcraft got a huge score and I was tempted, also by what other people were telling me, the reviewer did outline that the game was abo
      • by ifrag (984323)

        In World of Warcraft, the grind from 1 - 60 isn't really that bad IMO. I've seen worse in other titles such as FFXI. What's really a bad grind in WoW is the 60 - Uber 60. And there is a huge difference between a 60 with greens and a 60 with purples.

        After leveing 2 characters to 60 and a few others past 40, I started doing the MC grind on one of my 60's and for a while it was fun. Then for a while it was sorta fun and sorta getting repetitive. Then it got difficult to always get a spot in the raid, yet

    • by Twopher (995746)
      I agree they matter to me to. One of the things I always check for are to see if its buggy or the game is too short. I hate spending $50 on a game for 6 hours of play time or find out it has terrible bugs. Most game reviews cover this. And renting sucks now, its about $8 at blockbuster and gamefly is waay too expensive.
  • It's all in the hype (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:14PM (#16150150)
    Sales are, at least in my experience, based on three factors:

    Name of Game/Company
    Hype
    Popularity of genre

    In that order.

    There's quite a lot of really awesome games out there that didn't get any attention. Why? They lack at least 2 of the three factors.

    Imagine something is labeled "Command & Conquer Final Chapter". Will it sell? You bet it will! It could be the last crappy ripoff, a repackaged C&C1 with new graphics for example (no, you don't need to tell me "it's already been done", I know, thank you very much). It will sell. It has the name. Imagine Halo 3. Quake 5. NHL 2006. Diablo 3. Does/would/will it sell? Yes. Why? Name.

    Same with "games to movies". Fortunately, at least some movie studios do care these days who buys the license for the name to slap on a game. It used to be a surefire way to say a game sucks donkey bits if it had the name of a current movie. But they always were bestsellers. Even the crappiest of the lot.

    Then there is hype. DNF will sell. No matter when it comes out and no matter if it is up to par. You could offer an empty box and it would sell. Other games have the "new feature" hype, whether that feature actually matters or not. Max Payne was hyped as "revolutionary" in the genre of shooters for its bullet time and the actually rendered bullets. Whether it really was, I leave to the reader.
  • Well, if game reviews were estimating sales, this might make sense.
    However, game reviews review the enjoyment and playability of the game. Further, they are often framed, for example: "I give enchant arms a 10/10 if you like these types of RPG's, otherwise, avoid.".

    This "study" sucks.
  • Most good games are sold from word of mouth but I find it absolutely scary when crap like 50 Cent: Bulletproof become a million seller while critically praised games like Eternal Darkness are left on shelves.
    • by vega80 (852274)
      I know that's true for me.. I don't usually look at reviews by themselves, but if a friend/co-worker says a game is really fun, I'll look at the reviews and then decide whether or not to buy it. If a game on a demo disc is fun, or if I play a game at a friend's house/E3/kiosk (Guitar Hero at Best Buy's) and it's fun, I'll usually buy it to.
    • Why would it scare you? What a 'critic' looks for in a given thing, and what the average joe looks for in a given thing are generally two completely separate and distinct sets of criteria.

  • by crossmr (957846) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @08:09PM (#16150756) Journal
    and their opinion is no more valid, or even less valid as I find that any game that is genuinely crap from a major advertisement purchaser doesn't get the shafting it deserves, yet a game of similar quality from a no-name developer/publisher usually gets raked over the coals.

  • by Sathias (884801) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @09:10PM (#16151017)
    You need to look at factors such as advertising dollars when looking at a review objectively, as well. As an example, a friend of mine was managing a gaming store when one of the game company reps that was showing him their latest catalogue got a call on his mobile from one of the local gaming mags. The guy from the magazine informed him of their latest review of one of their games, and the score was not too flattering, something like 5/10. The rep said "Nah, pull the review then", which caused the mag to back-pedal and make a deal to give the game 7/10 but use the same text of the review. Often you see big release games which don't live up to expectations in the public, one obvious example is Dues Ex 2. That game was an absolute turkey yet when it was released I saw several reviews calling it a classic with higher than 9/10 scores.
  • Completists (Score:3, Interesting)

    by owlman17 (871857) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @11:29PM (#16151501)
    And yes, completists like me, especially of some well-known franchises like Might and Magic, C&C, will always buy the sequels no matter how horrible the reviews are. In many cases, even no matter how horrible the actual games are. Even if some of them are buggy and unplayable, they'll always be there on my shelf.

    One of the posts here said DNF will sell pretty well because of coverage. Heck, given its extreme coverage, if it actually comes out, I predict it will be one of the best-selling games of all time. (Many will play it, and those who don't, will still buy it for their collection.)
  • How many copies of a game get traded in as the days/weeks/months pass since the release date. As that is more of an indicator of wether the game sucks or is worth holding onto, IMO. Few copies of the game in the 2nd hand section gets my attention and gets me asking questions to the EB staff.

    My buying habits are erratic, sometime I go by reviews, or word of mouth, or a continuing franchise that I've bought previous versions of. But wether I keep hold of a game or trade it in is based on wether I enjoyed p
  • This is the most important reason why a game sells. Buy and download will change this and reviews will become more important, from pro or players. Our last racing game has the exact same Metacritic score as NFS Most Wanted and we have not reached the 20K units sold in North America.
  • In my quests to spend my money in games that are really worth my money I rely for a large part on the site Gamerankings.com [gamerankings.com]. It combines the rating of many sites and a voting system for players. I always choose games based on both averages and it has been quite successfull up till now with Oblivion, GalCiv2 etc. I don't think I would have bought those titles by just shopping around.

    I'm always suspicious on game review-sites that they enhance the rating of games from money-spending advertisers.

  • Game reviews don't affect sales, so there's really no point in writing them.

    Sincerely,

    Sucky Game Producers, Inc.

  • There were many-a Gamecube and DS game that I didn't buy (yet anyway) solely because of a (or many) sub-par review(s)... My standards are pretty high and although Nintendo has (and still does) put out tons of games I love, they put out around as many that just don't seem to cut it for me.

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