Home > Video Games > Why Metacritic Scores are Meaningless In Terms of Sales (Again)

Why Metacritic Scores are Meaningless In Terms of Sales (Again)

no sale!

It has baffled me for years as to why publishers insist on garnering great scores from game mags/sites et al for their games when, really, there is no correlation between good scores and good sales since, even from a marketing angle, they appear to have no bearing on sales:

My analysis demonstrates that no link between Metacritic scores and sales exists. So why do publishers insist on such a connection? I can’t really say. That reviews scores would influence sales does feel intuitive. Perhaps publishers also feel reassured that they’ve based their decisions on a quantifiable number.

But I won’t pretend that I have all the answers. I don’t really know why or why not a particular game sells well or poorly. My data isn’t equipped to answer that question, either. What I do know is that no correlation between Metacritic scores and unit sales exists, and I think it’s foolish for publishers to tie monetary compensation to such scores.

My own, personal, thesis is that scores are only good for one segment of the market–the core gamer–and, even then, only as a tool to justify (or vilify if someone doesn’t like the game in question) a purchase or, in some cases, as entertainment. That’s it.1

Basically, ‘official’ reviews for just about anything are only useful for the segment of the populace that is so ‘inside baseball’ on the topic in questoin that they’re in the showers waiting for the Yanks to come off the field, sniffing jocks discussing minutaie that would do little more than turn off the vastly larger audience of evil, malicious, casual gamers (like your Mom) and little kids (like, uh, your kids).

In other words, the ‘hardcore’ are the only ones that care about scores and, due to their microscopic buying power, there is no discernible trend to correlate them with sales. (That or game ‘journalists’ and critics are so blinkered and out of touch as to what the vast, vast majority considers good/bad that the only way you could ever plot a ‘trend’ is if you were an acid-dropping schizophrenic that really, really likes Heavy Rain. A lot.2)

1 And I say this as someone that used to run a videogame magazine that was all-hardcore, all the time, though ‘hardcore’ had a decidedly different meaning than it does today. (Personally, even then, I was of the opinion that people were reading our reviews, in particular, for their entertainment value more than anything else, though I could never prove it.)
2 Notice that the user scores are a full 30% lower than the ‘pro’ scores–this is very, statistically, meaningful and I’ll get back to this at some point later on, perhaps in my unnamed video project. On YouTube!

Categories: Video Games
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