Reviews Are Pointless. Or Are They?
According to industry analyst we’ve never heard of Doug Creutz of company we’ve never heard of Cowen Group, game reviews are the least important factor considered when purchasing a new game.
According to the company’s data, obtained in a recent survey, word of mouth is a far more important factor.
"We believe that while Metacritic scores may be correlated to game quality and word of mouth, and thus somewhat predictive of title performance, they are unlikely in and of themselves to drive or undermine the success of a game," the survey concludes.
"We note this, in part, because of persistent rumors that some game developers have been jawboning game reviewers into giving their games higher critical review scores. We believe the publishers are better served by spending their time on the development process than by grade-grubbing after the fact."
We disagree entirely. We would, it’s our job. But not without reason. Interviewing ‘gamers’ in such a survey is always going to produce skewed results since gamers who read any form of gaming press are in the minority. Publishers and their PR departments are not deluded in any way – they know that it is the opinions of those who DO read the press whom they attempt to assert some degree of control. Likewise, we, the press realise that we are not speaking to gamers, but to gamers who read games press… that’s a small, but incredibly significant difference.
The notion that games publishers should 'spend their time on the development process' is yet another of those classic fallacies; that resources in one area can be applied to another.
It's like telling the grape pickers to spend more time designing the wine bottle.