Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bad reviews can hurt game sales

An interesting study has found that game review scores do indeed have an impact on how popular a game is in the marketplace.

As reported in Industry Gamers, the EEDAR group in collaboration with SMU Guildhall had three groups of people play the game, Plants vs. Zombies. Prior to playing, one group was exposed to a pretend, positive review of the game (90/100), another to a pretend negative review (61/100), and a third to no reviews at all.

The group that saw the positive review first received the game most positively, returning a participant review score of 85. Those who were exposed to no review scores returned a participant review score of 79, and those exposed to a negative score chalked up a score of just 71.

EEDAR then noted "as painful as it may be for developers to consider, even with the creation of a high quality game, a game is likely to achieve greater commercial success if reviewed highly, than if reviewed poorly or not at all."

Which certainly confirms my fears that the quite-special-but-misunderstood Nier isn’t getting anywhere near the response that it deserves. It also explains why a game’s PR can become very upset when a reviewer returns an unfairly biased review against an otherwise-quality game, and why, when a game is expected to score poorly amongst critics, PR will avoid sending a game out at all.


  1. Excellent points all of the way around - and it makes sense really. i remember as a kid, you had Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and Nintendo Power if you hoped to have an idea if a Nintendo game was going to be any good or not. Which usually meant, you didn't want to purchase it right when it came out, so you could at least read about it first. And that's 2 or 3 reviews a month later, versus the dozens you can get on release week online.

    Really, overall - this is how the system should work. But that being said, sometimes the reviews can be misleading. I like to read reviews at IGN or Gamestop, and I get Game Informer magazine - but I really like the reader score averages/reviews. Nier's a good example - there were a lot of critical reviews that lambasted the game, but I noticed a ton of good player reviews too.

    Interestingly enough though, I am a good example of this in practice. Nier was a game I was considering buying. The trailer looked cool, I like the company behind it. Then it came out and the reviews were poor. I spent my money on something else and am just this week now in possession of the game as a loan from a friend. I waited to borrow instead of buying largely based on reviews.

  2. Absolutely agree, and I think all of us have had experiences where reviews have turned us off games we were interested in.

    The reverse is true too. I wasn't much interested in Monster Hunter Tri, but it got stellar reviews across the board, so I bought it. A month later and I'm only a hour in.

    Moral to the story is we should probably trust our instincts more :-P