Monday, March 04, 2013

We The Critics

Christopher Dring at MCVUK asks do video game critics matter? They do and they don’t. Much like movie, book, theater, restaurant, computer, and any other area that asks for reviewing, it all comes down to the power of the customer.

You can look at surveys, studies, and metacritic to see how people respond to game reviews and if it influences their purchase. The bottom line: No matter how great or insignificant the impact a review has on a game, a person who is determined to buy something will purchase it. Aliens: Colonel Marines got a crappy review across the board. But people wanted to buy it, and they did. Why do you think they keep making the same Call of Duty over and over again? People keep buying it, no matter how tired of it critics (aka me) become.

Versus something like Xcom. Not a big sales hit, but a lot of reviewers appreciated the game for what it offered to the genre. We might see a sequel, we might not. It’ll depend on the developer.

Having said all of that, I do feel that critics offer something to the gaming world: an alternate opinion. Yes there are some that join the bandwagon and either love or hate whatever is “cool to love/hate on right now.” But some do care about passing their true opinion to people. I have an appreciation for Final Fantasy XIII while most of Kotaku dogged on it (didn’t budge the sales numbers guys, just saying), and so did a number of other publications, that is gave FF13 a high score. Critics can provide new insight, points of view, or even flip everything around and drive you crazy. But that’s the mark of a good reviewer. And yes, they can potentially influence your opinion on a sale. When you think about a $10 movie ticket, that doesn’t feel like you are spending a lot-so the opinion of a critic may not matter. But a $59.99 video game that you may spend hours, days, or months on? That’s an investment of time and money that you would never see with a movie or a book. Maybe a nice restaurant and decent seats at a theater, but for most common forms of entertainment, video games are still the most expensive thing out there. So if you’re waffling about whether or not you want to buy the new EA FPS game, a reviewer’s opinion might sway you.

Because I am a reviewer of sorts, mostly a blogger-less of a reviewer, of course I’m going to say that we have value. Not as someone that controls the buying power of consumers, but as one that can provide an alternate point of view to what’s available on the market.


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