Study Suggests Reviews Strongly Shape Word of Mouth

Study Suggests Reviews Strongly Shape Word of Mouth

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Research suggests that those Metacritic scores might be even more important than you think.

Some gamers read reviews to get an idea of what games they might like to buy, while others go with word of mouth. But new research conducted by EEDAR and SMU Guildhall suggest that the two might not be mutually exclusive, and reviews can even influence your opinion even after you've played a game for yourself.

EEDAR and Guildhall took 165 participants, split into three test groups, and had them play Plants vs. Zombies. One group was shown a mock positive review of the game in which it scored 90/100, another group was shown a mock negative review where the game scored 61/100, and the final group was shown no reviews at all.

The participants were then asked to give the game a score. The group shown positive reviews gave it a score of 85/100, a full 14 points higher than the group shown negative reviews, and six points higher than the control group. The positive group was also much more likely to recommend the game to a friend, with 91% saying they would, compared to 65% in the negative group.

The study did acknowledge however that review scores alone did not determine a game's success, and that numerous other factors, like marketing and PR, had an effect, but said that "the relationship between videogame sales and professional review scores are not correlative but causal."

"Professional critic reviews act as a multiplier for the likelihood of a consumer positively recommending the game to a friend," said the study. "As painful as it may be for developers to consider, even with the creation of a high quality game, a game is likely to achieve greater commercial success if reviewed highly, than if reviewed poorly or not at all."

This study seems to contradict research conducted by EEDAR at the end of last year, which said that marketing was the biggest factor in game sales, but it's easy to see the two having a complementary effect. The proper marketing of review scores, such as on promotional materials and game boxes, will certainly have a significant effect on how a game performs.

Source: Industry Gamer

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Uhh, I really cant understand how ANYONE can listen to a review and believe everything. Also whose dumb idea was it to simplify entertainment/art/sport with numbers. That does not work!

IF I read a review I READ it. I always ignore the score, seriously (unless its big and glowing... and shiny). Besides I do read it just to see if it could be my type of game, but I never take them seriously. The first ever review of one of my favourite games ever (S.T.A.L.K.E.R. SoC) wasnt that good (not bad, mind you) and yet here I am loving the thing.

I'm getting mighty tired of all these "studies" endlessly contradicting each other.

Anyway, I rely totally on word of mouth and gut instinct, reviews never did it for me. None of my friends like reviews either, so we just have our little circle of shit we like.

I will say this though, you should never take a reviewers opinion over your own. I used to do that. When I liked a film the critics despised, I just thought that I was wrong and never watched it again. Bad.

Study says most people prefer to be influenced by percieved authority rather than think for themselves? *shrug* News to me.

And metacritic and other reviews *are* a form of marketing as well for a game. Just mentioning a game, let alone devoting column inches to it in a review or criticism, means you are advertising it, for good or ill. And the worst thing you can do to a game's reputation is not necessarily to trash it, but to utterly ignore it.

News just in: Most people are dimwits who can't think for themselves. I've seen this repeatedly, especially when people repeat complaints from reviews that I know to be factually wrong (like the aiming system in Alpha Protocol, which is the same conefire as everything else ever, but apparently in this one game is an example of how broken the combat is).

stop being so elitist.

Reviews DO color your opinion on the produkt, even if you try to form your own opinion.

A good reviewer will point out flaws or well made parts of a game and highlight them, rendering you unable to explore the games weaknesses on your own. Even if you disagree with the reviewer, your attention is being drawn to aspekts he/she deemed important.

In collective behavior, the "public" discusses a single issue, such as the issues with Alpha protocol because we don't want to contradict the "Mass".

I am not a sociologist, but going against "what everyone has been saying" is not inherent in most of us as far as I can tell. Whether or not its perceived mass knowledge or real.

Status quo's 'n shit.

I usually read the review and can tell within seconds if the reviewer has any grasp of the game entirely. Most of the reviews I have read on IGN or Gamespot are just whiny, or bitchy, and almost have nothing to do with the game. You can just tell they are viewing it within their tiny little frame of how much thought and effort they gave it to just pump out another review "before the other guys".

At least the Escapist writes lengthy reviews and says how the game made them feel as they play it. That's really important to me. Was is fun, exciting, boring, frustrating, fun at times, slow, etc. Those perceptions might influence how I might feel about the genre if they give a reason why they felt that way.

This results of thier study are troubling. Much as i would like to think this is a fluke my gut says otherwise. I've posted a page before chastising professional reviewers for casually blasting a game. Unfairly or in some cases inaccuratley describing the game to thier audience. I make no excuse for the people who don't just hit a demo or rental up and decide for themselves. I just hope professional reviewers think about this the next time they're bitching about the endless chain of dull FPS, and perenial sport titles, then pivot on thier right foot and trash an original title.

Idiots and sheep far outnumber self directed educated people. So when your not happy with how something is, I'd urge you to consider what you're doing to lead the sheep in the direction you need them to go.

Yeah, this wasn't really obvious, was it now?

I am just tired of all these studies, confirming what we know and hell, even contradicting eachother. Especially about how games effect behaviour or the other way around. The complexity of the human brain-...The cognitive ability of a pe--. You know what, nevermind.

How intriguing, though I don't bother to take reviews seriously. I base my purchases on the games genre and (*sigh*) coverart.

Makes sense, if someone likes it, but thinks no one else does, they're less likely to reccomend it.

Games that I have bought by recommendation, hype or reviews have more often than not been disappointing for me.

Those that I have bought on gut instinct have nearly always been my favourites. The exception being Fallout 2; that lovable, buggy as hell game.

TL:DR version: We think game reviews influence a person's opinion. And we have 165 people to "prove it".
Most people are stupid, and can be swayed this way. Everyone else, not so much.

Furburt:

I will say this though, you should never take a reviewers opinion over your own. I used to do that. When I liked a film the critics despised, I just thought that I was wrong and never watched it again. Bad.

That's why I don't look any more at Roger Ebert's reviews. Maybe his right and I'm worng, maybe I just like crappy films and stuff like that, but one thing is for certain: we have totally different tastes, and wouldn't get along very well.
Edit: OT: When seeing a bad review of a game I'm inclined to think it isn't that good, but I always go with my gut instincts(worst case scenario the reviewer's right, and I fail to get the satisfaction I was hoping for)

Moriarty:
stop being so elitist.

Reviews DO color your opinion on the produkt, even if you try to form your own opinion.

A good reviewer will point out flaws or well made parts of a game and highlight them, rendering you unable to explore the games weaknesses on your own. Even if you disagree with the reviewer, your attention is being drawn to aspekts he/she deemed important.

You have a point, but reviews dont paint my opinion much. As I said I very rarely read them.
I take advice from friends or relatives more. And YES there are reviewers that are good. Its just very hard to know in advance XD.

That's quite depressing considering that sites like IGN, Gamtrailers and Gamespot show a completel lack of integruity and those are the sites that are most used for veiwing reveiws.

These are the kind of studies that scare me. Because not only is it fundamentally flawed to test something like this on only those 3 groups of people (meaning, not running the test multiple times on multiple groups of people), but it also tells developers "hey, take that shit game you made, and instead of polishing it up, splurge on some editors to get a good review". Not like this kind of thing doesn't happen already, but it certainly does encourage it.

Now me, personally, I never did really think much of reviewers, due to the fact that they tend to hate what I love, up until the Last Airbender. I'm so angry I didn't listen... not like I was going to NOT see it, being a huge fan of the cartoon, but still.... they did nail that one.

Charcharo:
Uhh, I really cant understand how ANYONE can listen to a review and believe everything. Also whose dumb idea was it to simplify entertainment/art/sport with numbers. That does not work!

IF I read a review I READ it. I always ignore the score, seriously (unless its big and glowing... and shiny). Besides I do read it just to see if it could be my type of game, but I never take them seriously. The first ever review of one of my favourite games ever (S.T.A.L.K.E.R. SoC) wasnt that good (not bad, mind you) and yet here I am loving the thing.

It isn't just a matter of believing it. Especially when it comes to the ones who played then read. When someone sits there and points out all these flaws that you might have not noticed or really cared about at the time that can have an effect. I know it has with me. Where I beat a game, read the reviews and hear this and this and this was a problem and I go damn you're right. I just never thought about it like that.

squid5580:

Charcharo:
Uhh, I really cant understand how ANYONE can listen to a review and believe everything. Also whose dumb idea was it to simplify entertainment/art/sport with numbers. That does not work!

IF I read a review I READ it. I always ignore the score, seriously (unless its big and glowing... and shiny). Besides I do read it just to see if it could be my type of game, but I never take them seriously. The first ever review of one of my favourite games ever (S.T.A.L.K.E.R. SoC) wasnt that good (not bad, mind you) and yet here I am loving the thing.

It isn't just a matter of believing it. Especially when it comes to the ones who played then read. When someone sits there and points out all these flaws that you might have not noticed or really cared about at the time that can have an effect. I know it has with me. Where I beat a game, read the reviews and hear this and this and this was a problem and I go damn you're right. I just never thought about it like that.

I usually see the flaws. Really, I never read a HL2 review yet i did see ALL its flaws. But I guess im like that because im from a poor country and when I buy something I replay it a lot, and the fact that I always wanted to be a game critic. But a mix of the Yahtzee and Artsy type. Those that are fun, poin the flaws, yet concentrate on the good and are optimistic.

I can see how its true...people who see high numbers are more likely to want to talk about it...

I like to look at the scores, but, I also try to read written review work. That way, the number isnt the only basis I have behind a decision

Not really surprised. Next thing you will be telling me that the best prediction of how well a game is reviewed is how much is being spent on marketing. Oh, shock, horror, reviewers are also sometimes more influenced by PR, gamers and the game development community than the actual product. They don't even need bribes or people in PR shouting at them to change their reviews like some more excitable commenters insist must be happening all the time. But reviewers are also far from being the only ones who are affected by hype and "wars of ideas." We all are.

I can see easily how poor reviews can mute word of mouth. If I really love one of the poorest reviewed games, movies, albums of the year, I'd probably have a tendancy to keep it to myself, despite my love for it.

No matter how passionately I might try and promote my love for the fine and nuanced gameplay of Barbie: Horse Adventures, I have no doubt that my pleas would fall on deaf ears. And that would be in no small part due to the overwhelming terrible reviews of the game. I doubt any of my peers or posters here ever played the game themselves, but I bet I would find no shortage of folks happy to pile on me their mockery based on the negative buzz. I know this and would probably keep my secret love of a girl and her pony to myself.

However, if the reviews backed up my position - even marginally - I would be far more comfortable outing myself as a fan and recommending the game.

Disclaimer: I have never actually bought a game in a pink box. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Straying Bullet:
Yeah, this wasn't really obvious, was it now?

I am just tired of all these studies, confirming what we know and hell, even contradicting eachother. Especially about how games effect behaviour or the other way around. The complexity of the human brain-...The cognitive ability of a pe--. You know what, nevermind.

I totally support these studies. You just have to recognise them for what they are; a way to keep scientists busy so that they don't decide to start blowing things up. Scientists could do a fuck of a lot of damage if you don't waste their time on meaningless, self-evident dross like this.

Personally, I noyl read reviews for games that I've already decided I'm going to buy. I find that it helps to hype me up for the game, and I find myself noticing positive things because the reviewer has pointed them out. Oddly enough, I rarely see a bad review for a game I'm going to buy, but then again I rent a lot of shit games and only save the big money for awesome-looking stuff.

Guilty as charged. Usually if it's a sequel or a game I've been looking forward to anyway, I'd definitely get it. But a lot of the time I decide to/not to get a game based on the negative reviews it gets.

Reviews do actually give you a sense of how good a game is, but not entirely. Which is why you're supposed to read them, not just look at the score.

I watch a gameplay video and I can tell exactly how the game will feel to play. That's how I decide.

Hm, I am really sick of people bashing reviews.

I base my choice of whether or not to buy games ENTIRELY based on reviews. I won't form an opinion on a game until I have played it obviously, but my purchases are decided entirely by reading professional reviews by people who know what they are talking about. My opinion might be different from theirs, and I might miss out on a couple of gems, but for the most part it has helped me make wise decisions and without reviews I would be lost.

Fact is, the less people who like something, the less likely it is that I am going to like it. Not because I just follow the crowd, but because when something is shit, most people generally recognize that it's shit. There are hugely overrated games, sure (Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War etc) but none of those games are shit. Actual shitty games that I won't even want to play are recognised by the majority as shit, and after reading reviews and seeing thoughts and facts stated about a game I have a general idea of if I am going to like it or not.

I know scores are useless (I always read the reviews rather than looking at scores) but here is a test for people who hate reviews: name me a couple of games that have an aggregate score of below 50/100 on Metacritic that you actually consider to be good games. Go on, I dare you. You might find a couple, of course there are going to be exceptions. But I think unless you have an extremely niche taste in games, you're going to have trouble finding more than 3-5... There's a reason for this, guys. The majority are not as stupid as you all think they are. Not many people are going to play a truly crap game, and that alone makes the chances of me enjoying it much slimmer simply by process of elimination.

I tend to go with the review scores because I dont wanna buy every game that ever existed to find the one game that I'll like, because I wasnt blessed with that kind of funding, so I choose to seek out an opinion. I would try word of mouth but I dont trust that of my gaming friends, seeing as how every movie I've considered an inspired piece of writing they shoot down as boring. They must all be the type to like action movies and shooter games, so I go for the review scores.

By the way, someone earlier said STALKER was their favorite game and it got bad reviews. I WISH id gone with the reviews on that game. I HATED that game with a passion. Waste of my money.

The thing this survey is pointing out, though is that word of mouth is affected. So you say that you ignore reviews and just go with your friends. The study is suggesting that your word of mouth is influenced by the reviews. So you think you're free of the tripe, but you're really not.

DominicxD:
I watch a gameplay video and I can tell exactly how the game will feel to play. That's how I decide.

Me too.
I look to reviews for facts more than opinions; Except for ZeroP, those are just hilarious.

I can totally believe this study though. It would explain how No More Heroes became so popular. The game bombed in Japan, in America it got rave reviews and became very successful.

there better not be any tax dollars at work here cause this really just seem like a "NO SHIT SHERLOCK" moment <.<

I read reviews but I never make that my decision factor for a game I want. What I don't understand is if you goto the gamespot/gamefaqs forums, people will cancel pre-orders if a game gets a 7.0-8.0 like its a horrible score.

Experts: Water is "wet"

Considering the vast majority of forum chatter on Alpha Protocol when its reviews went up was about how bad the game was, this report is 100% accurate. Hence, any chance of a sequel's been shelved.

While reviews are noteworthy and provide valuable perspective on the game of the moment, I will never condone Metacritic as a viable source of information. By picking and choosing what numbers to include, as well as making up/fudging numbers for reviews that don't use a 100 point scale (or a number scale at all) I just can't help but notice certain things, like when I look up a Wii game and it's got multiple 90-100 reviews from a bunch of websites and magazines with 'Nintendo' in the title. Reviews are only useful if they are coming from a source you can respect, trust, and share similar values with. Back before I haunted the Escapist I would always get two magazines every month: EGM and Game Informer. EGM was funny and entertaining but I didn't put much stock in their reviews. Game Informer, on the other hand, typically held the same values regarding games that I did. And even beneath that, there were certain reviewers I felt shared my opinions and those that I felt were too hung up on graphics or whatever. A review should inform a decision or at best inspire you to find out more for yourself. It should not be taken as a numeric scale showing you how much you should want this game.

 

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