Market Research Firms Claim Game Reviews Aren’t That Important

By Geoffrey Golden . April 29, 2009 . 10:06am

imageAt the LA Games Conference 2009, industry experts agreed that game reviews from magazines are not nearly as important to potential consumers as other factors.


Nick Williams, from the industry research firm OTX GamePlan, gave the example of MadWorld for the Wii.  IGN gave it a 9.0 and its Metacritic score was 82 — they thought the game was going to take off, but Madworld only sold 66,000 copies in the US.  It turns out, only 8% of the Wii market had even heard of MadWorld.


Ethan Titelman, from the market research firm Penn, Schoen & Berland, believes that critical reviews won’t change gamers minds.  If a gamer thinks the game is great, and they read bad reviews, it won’t necessarily stop them from purchasing.  Unlike film reviews to movie goers, Metacritic scores don’t hold as much weight with Joe Gamer.  He claims a concept with mass appeal is far more important, along with a strong marketing strategy.  Whereas movies typically spend 1/3 of their budget on advertising, games only spend 1/6th on average.


How important are game reviews to you?  Do they effect your purchases?

Read more stories about & & on Siliconera.

  • jarrodand

    Compared to other genre examples, MadWorld effectively did “take off”. Which is remarkable when looked at in context, something that precious few seem to be doing when it comes to anything Wii related. :/

  • fallen

    Price is more important to me than a glowing review. $50 is too much monetary risk for an unproven franchise. It should have came out at $30 or $40. When it hits the $15-20 range, I’m sure it will sell very well. If I had tons of extra money, I’d purchase games based on their reviews, but that is not the case for most of the world. And that has nothing at all to do with any global economy crises that may occur.

  • Kuronoa

    I see some importance in reviews, like knowing some potential flaws I may not stand. Though of course many flaws critics point out are subjective at times.
    If I were to discover something I don’t like I’ll rent it or wait on a price drop. I can trust myself in buying a game these days without major influence and have a good track record in continuing that plan.

  • Louise

    Most mainstream gamers don’t read reviews of popular games like Halo or GTA4. They hear the franchise name and that’s all they need. That’s not news. That’s like saying most movie-goers don’t care about reviews. That’s the only explanation why awful movies like Hannah Montana have people actually watching.

    I do think that for niche games that most people wouldn’t have heard about, reviews do help.

    • MadMirko

      On the other hand, niche games usually get mediocre scores and writeups that do nothing for a fan of the particular niche, as reviewers for some reason feel they need to review for the so called average gamer.

      Maybe it’s just me, but reviews are not terribly helpful when I try to find out whether I want a game, or not.

      • matty

        For niche games, it can go either way. It doesn’t always translate to sales, though, for some reason.
        I guess you can say the same goes the big name titles, but who reads reviews at that point? If the player buys the game and sees something broken or should have been left out of the game they’re going to let you know and words spreads out fast. That has happened to lesser known titles, but I see more prone to the bigger ones since a lot more folks are exposed to it.

        I just hope we don’t see the same type of “reviews” like the Driver 3 incident. Leave that craziness out of the gaming world, please.

  • matty

    I agree with Ethan. There are some that totally rely on reviews or impressions from others (I do sometimes), but typically it’s up the individual to see if what they hear or read tickles their fancy.
    If someone is going out of their way to play Onechanbara Bikini Zombie Slayer, they’re gonna play it! That game didn’t have glowing reviews, but what I heard/read in those reviews was right up my alley and I loved it. That’s why I see the rating system(s) being kind of pointless. I got what I needed from those reviews, and if I were rate it mine would be completely different from theirs.
    That said, I love watching other gamer’s reviews on Youtube. They’re informative and fun!

  • maxchain

    Absolutely not. Playing Killer 7 for myself made me realize that reviews are almost entirely useless to me. I’d be missing out on a lot of genuinely enjoyable stuff if I only scanned magazines and websites to see what that hack Jeremy Parish declares Good or Not Good. Games don’t have to be perfect to be fun, and some guy’s arbitrary review score will tell me a lot less about a game and how it matches up with my preferences than some hands-on time of my own.

  • Tye The Czar

    Damn right reviews matter to me! Joe Gamer… such a type that plays nothing than Madden and maybe Halo needs extermination! They’re the kinds of fools who make famous dreaded pop stars and country “musicians”. I wish Jack felt the same way….hehehehehehe

  • EvilAkito

    Review scores don’t matter to me as much as the content of the review does. Even a positive review can help me decide not to purchase a game, and vice versa. The purpose of a review isn’t really just to get to know the author’s opinion but to get an idea as to what the game is like so you can decide if it’s something that interests you. For example, Madworld may have received glowing review scores, but if a standard action game with excessive gratuitous violence and foul humor isn’t your cup of tea, the quality of the game doesn’t really matter since you’re probably not going to have fun playing it anyway.

  • CleruTesh

    Steambot Chronicles is the picture I chose not just because it is a great game.
    It is the moment that I realized game reviews are drek.
    Or maybe it just depends on where they come from.
    This game almost slipped under my radar, because Game Informer gave it a 5.5/10, and that was the only magazine I subscribed to at the time. With a score that low, used to be I wouldn’t even bother to read it.
    Wasn’t until I read a copy of a friends Official Playstation Magazine, giving it 4.5/5 stars, that I read the review, bought it, and spent the next several weeks of gaming bliss bewildered by how anyone could fail to shower praise upon such a brilliant, beautiful game.
    Do game reviews affect my purchase nowadays? You betcha, but I almost ignore the score completely.
    I read IGN’s review of Madworld. I was really drawn to the black-and-white manga-esque aesthetic.
    But when the descriptions of a game are nausea-inducing, at the end of the review, I wouldn’t buy it if you gave it an 11.

  • Dkong

    Reviews sometimes affect my purchasing. For instance, I just read a favorable review of Art project: Aqius for DSiware and I bought it because of that review. Otherwise I wouldn’t have had a clue about the game.
    Otherwise, what determines if I get a game or not are if they’re from a well known and loved game franchise, if my friends suggest it, or if I’ve played it and liked it.

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos