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EEDAR study: review scores do affect sales

Claims player awareness of high scores can increase positive response

Gamers think more positively towards a title if they know it has reviewed well, according to a new EEDAR survey.

The results of the study, conducted with SMU Guildhall, presented PopCap's Plants vs Zombies to 188 people split into different groups - one shown positive reviews, another critical ones, and the third shown no reviews.

At the end of the play session, all involved were offered a choice of either the game or $10 in cash. 20 per cent more of those players told Plants vs Zombies had reviewed well chose the game than did those told the opposite, and all told were more than twice as likely to pick the game.

The number of those picking the game was 8 per cent higher than the control group. Though applicants were screened to check they were not previously aware of Plants versus Zombies, the use of a known title (and one that was indeed well-reviewed), plus its treatment as a reward, may mean that further studies are yet needed.

However, EEDAR was convinced its results prove that review scores affect word of mouth, and recommend that publishers employ them in their marketing to a greater extent.

"91% of participants shown high review scores for Plants vs. Zombies would recommend the product to a friend," said EEDAR's report, "compared to only 65% of participants shown low review scores and 79% of participants shown no review."

The study concludes that this will lead to increased sales, calling the relationship between reviews and purchases causal rather than simply correlative.

"Video games are increasingly contributing to the overall health of the entertainment sector, so it’s crucial to understand behavior," said Jesse Divnich, vice president of analyst services for EEDAR.

"The study findings clearly indicate that properly leveraging game reviews to form a positive anchoring effect can dramatically increase consumer’s perception, adoption and willingness to recommend a game title."

In response to the survey, Garth Chouteau, PopCap's vice president of public relations, said, "We've always known that good reviews are beneficial to a game's sales, but we didn't realize just how significant a role they play in the purchasing decision process.

"This study illustrates not only that game quality trumps hype, it also shows how important it is for game makers to establish and maintain good communications with the media outlets that cover video games."

In related news, review aggregator Metacritic recently revealed that average review scores in the first six months of 2010 are higher than during the same period for 2009, and that there have been far-fewer low-scoring titles.

Despite this increased critical positivity, the year's NPD results to date reveal that game sales for 2010 are down 6 per cent overall from this time last year. Though May saw a total increase of software sales by 4 per cent, this was concentrated mainly into Red Dead Redemption and Super Mario Galaxy 2, with a number of other high profile, high scoring titles failing to sell 200,000 copies.

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Latest comments (7)

Private Industry 11 years ago
No kidding, people are more likely to spend 60$ on a game that has metascore of 85% compared to one that has 60%? How surprising. Ok that`s enough sarcasm :)

People are not always logical and even if they think they might like something they will be put off by low ratings. People can be often enough influenced. There are people who think Avatar had an amazing story because the ratings for the movie are trough the roof. I personally would usually not buy a game with a score of let`s say 60%, after all nobody wants to throw money out of the window. But I did actually buy Alpha Protocol and liked it besides of the technical bugs.
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gi biz ;, 11 years ago
"However [EEDAR] recommend that publishers employ them in their marketing to a greater extent."

So what's the plan, free cars & yachts to reviewers?? :D I feel the urge to apply to ign...!
Speaking of wich, reviews *are* important, most people tend to read one before investing time or money into something: it doesn't feel as a great discovery.
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Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments11 years ago
"The study concludes that this will lead to increased sales, calling the relationship between reviews and purchases casual rather than simply correlative."

Causal, rather than casual, surely?

edit: now fixed :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Neil Young on 7th July 2010 5:59pm

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Show all comments (7)
David Rider Publisher, Hustler UK11 years ago
Reviews are definitely an influencing factor, as is word of mouth, solid beta releases (hey, Medal of Honor on Xbox, I'm talking to you!) and decent PR.

But far too many good games slip through the review net. I barely get to see any games solely released on XBL or PSN, because companies don't want to spend on them. Weird, given the lack of money blown on shifting boxes and retail cuts.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Fantastic timing. I just had my network change our review rating system last night. I've come to hate the modern review rating system used by most sites (my own including until last night) because of how much it has skewed over the years.

Anyone else remember when a 50 meant average? Now a 70-75 is average. This skewing has come about because of publisher/media relations. Give us a good review, we'll give you good per click ad revenue and invites to publisher events. Or conversely, too many bad review scores will result in reduced cooperation from publishers. So over the years the numbers have skewed. And this report just ensures it will continue and may even accelerate.

The whole concept pushes readers to forgo the content of the review anyway and merely look at the number. But to not provide those alphanumeric digits would cause to lose a large portion of the reading audience accustomed to the instant gratification. So we are doomed to perpetuate the problem. And in the process, watch as the games of average quality steadily creep higher and higher into figures they do not deserve.
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You should buy games for their content, not for their review score.

I am a huge fan of the Dynasty Warriors franchise which always scored low to very low, but for me and my friends it's an amazing expierience.

95% a good game? absolutely!
40% a good game? Only if the content delivered in that game is your kinda thing!

Many people focus their attention way too much on that number in the end, which is a good reference, but not something to go and buy a game for.
There have been countless sleeping gem's that have been overlooked by people thanks to low review scores or undeserved scores.

Also many reviewers have their own view or opinion on a game, for example FFXIII (what a game!) you like it or you don't, people that don't come up with silly reasons like there are no town, its not like the old FF, its too linear and they say that without thinking, FF has always been linear go from A to B with the illusion of freedom by doing pointless things like talking to a villager to hear how good his plants are growing.

Anyway my point is, when it comes to certain games reviewers scores vary so much from a perfect 10 to a flawed 4 and everything in between that the consumer doesn't know who to listen to anymore.

So again, read reviews (dont limit yourself to one) and make up your own mind about a game, don't follow a number blindly!
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany11 years ago
Oh Rly? That's genius, I would ahve never suspected it!
(Joking... seriously, you need a study for that?)
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