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How much do REVIEWS affect sales?

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The question isn't "Do reviews affect sales" rather the question is "By how much do reviews affect sales?" If even one person is motivated to buy a game they wouldn't have purchased by a review then we've established a causal relationship (I can vouch for that). However, the existence of highly reviewed but low selling games suggests that the degree to which a review benefits (or hinders) sales is low.

Of course, then we need to take into account how many people read the reviews. If a game is highly visible than more people will read the reviews and base decisions on them (which can go either way). If a game is less visible then fewer people will seek out reviews for it and those reviews will have a smaller overall impact.

In the end, I think there are too many variables to account for to make a decisive conclusion.



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The problem with any investigation of the impact of reviews on the sales of games, is that it would be difficult and extremely subjective to factor out the inherent quality of the game.

That is to say, if you are comparing the sales of two games one of which received a 90% and the other received a 70%, how do you know whether the sales were impacted by the better review or if they were impacted because the 90% was a better game?

I think the only thing you could eliminate the impact of game quality would be to only look at day one sales; though then I should think that the review would be just one cog on the hype machine.



astrosmash said:
The problem with any investigation of the impact of reviews on the sales of games, is that it would be difficult and extremely subjective to factor out the inherent quality of the game.

That is to say, if you are comparing the sales of two games one of which received a 90% and the other received a 70%, how do you know whether the sales were impacted by the better review or if they were impacted because the 90% was a better game?

I think the only thing you could eliminate the impact of game quality would be to only look at day one sales; though then I should think that the review would be just one cog on the hype machine.

 

That's a standard forecasting issue.  In the end you don't know for sure, you just have very strongly implied correlations.

There are various approaches, some are simpler, some are more complex.  Some look at each item individually, others look at 'cross-elasticities' to also include how items may affect each other - for example if two FPS launch at the same time will they affect each other, and how?  What about the latest FPS from a popular franchise vs a new FPS IP?

It can be done though, you just need the correct algorithms and either patience or an actual forecasting engine to undertake the grunt work for you.

 



Try to be reasonable... its easier than you think...

Not a lot, it would appear. Some highly reviewed gems like Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Okami and Valkyria Chronicles haven't crossed 2 million (or in some cases, even one million), while Carnival Games, with its awful reviews, sailed past 3 million. Halo 3 has lower reviews than BioShock and LittleBigPlanet (okay, roughly the same) and has sold more than double both of them PUT TOGETHER.

It's a factor, yes, but brand name, marketing, install base, console, genre and word of mouth are all far more important.



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Way too much.



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Reviews have a high effect on sales, but as has been said, are only one factor among many. Furthermore, they affect different games and gamers differently. Examining the factors that go into a game purchase are really fascinating, and something that I'm sure publishers do a fair amount of secret research into.

Reviews are far more important to new IPs though, obviously. Many people will buy a sequel based on how much they enjoyed the previous game.

I do think the most underestimated factor in game sales is word of mouth. That's generally how I believe most of my friends (who tend to be "Halo + GTA casual" gamers) buy games. I know that's how a great many copies of CoD4 were sold to them, off of recommendations by friends. Personally, I know I bought Uncharted after (in person) word of mouth, and Valkyria Chronicles after reading a great deal of good stuff about it online a few months ago (one of the best gaming decisions I've made, heh).



Look at what happened to LAIR. Huge amount of hype that was obliterated by low review scores.