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The Guildhall at SMU and EEDAR Study Influence of Professional Review Critics

Study shows that participants prefer games to cash.

DALLAS (July 7th, 2010) - The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University and Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR) recently conducted a behavioral study to measure the influence professional critic reviews have on purchase behavior, willingness to recommend, and consumer perception of individual video game titles. The results reinforce the industry’s assumptions of a strong causal link between professional critic reviews and their ability to affect consumers’ actions and perceptions.

“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.”

During the three day study that took place at the SMU campus in late March, 188 participants were asked to play a 20 minute session of the game Plants vs. Zombies. Each participant was randomly placed into one of three groups and asked to read an informational packet about Plants vs. Zombies before playing. All the information within the packets was identical except that one packet had high critic reviews of the game, the second had low reviews of the game, and the third (control) group had no reviews of the game at all.

At the end of the gameplay portion of the study, participants were asked if they would rather have $10 cash for participating in the survey or receive a copy of Plants vs. Zombies. Participants exposed to the higher reviews rated the game 20% higher than the group exposed to lower reviews and were more than twice as likely to take a copy of Plants vs. Zombies over the $10 cash.

“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," said Garth Chouteau, Vice President of Public Relations at PopCap Games, makers of Plants vs. Zombies. "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."

“This research, which has identified key behavioral aspects, is part of an overall objective of ours to ensure that we are always on the cusp of what is next in an ever-changing environment of the video game industry,” said Dr. Peter Raad, executive director, The Guildhall at SMU. “The driving force behind what we do is based on what is happening beyond our campus - in both distance and time. Preparing students to become industry leaders requires a commitment to ongoing research. We look forward to additional consumers studies with EEDAR in the near future.”


EEDAR, based in Carlsbad, California, is a research firm founded by a team of interactive entertainment veterans in 2006. The company's mission is to increase the profitability and creativity of the video game industry by allowing publishers, developers and investors to make more strategic decisions based on objective, accessible and meaningful data.

EEDAR supplies the industry’s two leading analytical and information services, DesignMetrics ® and GamePulse ® , and delivers custom research and industry publications critical to understanding and navigating the highly competitive electronic entertainment and videogame market. All of the firm’s products and services are built upon on its proprietary game feature database, the world’s largest dataset of game features, allowing the company to produce highly accurate analysis at even the most granular levels. For more information please visit

About The Guildhall at SMU

The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University is the premier graduate video game education program in the US. Many of the school’s founders are industry icons, and classes are taught by industry veterans. In seven years, the program has graduated over 350 students and alums have worked at more than 100 video game studios around the world, with several graduates now serving in leadership positions. SMU offers both a Master’s degree and a graduate Professional Certificate of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development, with specializations in art creation, level design, and software development. For more information, visit

About PopCap

PopCap Games ( is the leading multi-platform provider of casual video games: fun, easy-to-learn, captivating games that appeal to everyone from age 6 to 106 and are available anytime, anywhere. Based in Seattle, Washington, PopCap was founded in 2000 and has a worldwide staff of more than 275 people in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Vancouver, B.C., Dublin, Seoul, and Shanghai. Its games have been downloaded over 1.5 billion times by consumers worldwide, and its flagship title, Bejeweled, has sold more than 50 million units across all platforms. Constantly acclaimed by consumers and critics, PopCap’s games are played on the Web, social platforms, desktop computers, myriad mobile devices (cell phones, smartphones, PDAs, Pocket PCs, iPod, iPhone, iPad and more), popular game consoles (such as Xbox and DS), and in-flight entertainment systems. PopCap has been one of the most innovative companies in the video industry since its inception a decade ago. Pioneering new game mechanics, sales models, and platforms ranging from mobile devices to online and location-based games of chance, PopCap is the only video game provider in the world with leading market share across the entire spectrum.

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