What's In A Name: Titles vs. Critics
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots released yesterday, and the reviews have either already arrived or are on the way. However, after seeing the initial batch of review scores, we asked ourselves: if a game's title is recognizable enough, and the buzz for the game is good enough, how big of an impact does a review score have?
Most critics realize that many gamers use reviews as a gauge; if they're good enough, the consumer will consider forking over the $60 for the game in question. The impact review scores have on game sales in undeniable; it's no big secret that the highest selling games of all time also happen to be the best-scored games of all time (for the most part). However, so far in 2008, we've already had two mammoth titles that are, for all intents and purposes, guaranteed to haul down big sales numbers. Grand Theft Auto IV broke every entertainment launch record on earth, and has now sold over 8.5 million copies worldwide. ...of course, the game is absolutely fantastic, but then again, how low would the review average have to be to significantly impact that 8.5 million number? And in regards to MGS4, the very name itself guarantees the million sales mark, but we have to question if we critics might be little more than afterthoughts for the hardcore gamers this time around.
Big fans of the series, for example, were probably on hand for midnight launches at GameStops around the country. High-profile reviews were few and far between at that time, and would those fans really have stayed home if MGS4 got a 9 instead of a perfect 10? What's the breaking point? Where's the cut-off? If we and most any other major site gave MGS4 in the mid- to high-8s, would you rethink your purchase decision? This is a question we may never be able to answer, considering the reviews are higher than that, but it's worth thinking about. Right?
6/12/2008 Ben Dutka