Does Immense Popularity Negate Review Scores?
While it has been proven that higher-rated games typically sell better (which is why EA continually mentions the need for high scores for their products), I'm wondering if certain titles are immune to the effect of said scores.
We didn't really have reviews back in the days when Mario ruled the gaming world, but I get this feeling that if we had, it probably wouldn't have mattered if Super Mario 3 held a critical average of 4; it likely would've sold just as well. Today, we could use Call of Duty, Halo, Madden, and Grand Theft Auto as the best possible examples; would it really matter if they bombed out in the scoring? If this year's CoD averaged a 6, wouldn't Activision still rake in their billion dollars? The Madden fans haven't seemed to care about review scores in the past, either, and GTA is GTA, while the Halo fanatics are...rabid.
But maybe I'm giving popularity too much weight, and I'm underestimating the consumer's intelligence. Perhaps it's best to assume that most gamers will check review scores...but then again, aren't we talking about the more casual titles? Most of them may not even read - or care about - reviews. Maybe it only matters if the game is designed more for the hardcore audiences; those who don't typically buy a game based on the name on the box. But one has to consider that immense popularity has the unique capability of negating the need for quality. That's a basic rule of mainstream entertainment and last I checked, gaming is mainstream now.
4/8/2011 Ben Dutka