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Game reviews as predictor of sales.


R_Yell

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Here is an interesting article about how influential are becoming game reviews, up to the point some publishers tie bonuses to metacritic/game rankings score directly. I knew reviews were quite important, but not so much, having some kind of control over those scores could be more important than making a good game actually.

There is another fact they mention, Take Two's stock jumped 20% after Bioshock got a high composite rating on MetaCritic. Scores are important, definitively.

About 18 months ago, Activision also conducted a study of 789 games made for Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 2 console and found a strong correlation between some high game scores and strong sales. Activision Chief Executive Robert Kotick says the link was especially notable for games that score above 80% on Game Rankings, which grades games on a 1-to-100 percentage basis, with 100% being a perfect score. For every five percentage points above 80%, Activision found sales of a game roughly doubled. Activision believes game scores, among other factors, can actually influence sales, not just reflect their quality.

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB ... 33247.html

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Yes, everybody knows reviews are important, but this states that there is almost a mathematical correlation between scores and sales, except for movie licensed games which seems to work well if the movie does cash.

I'd expected publishers to set bonuses accordingly sales, but seems there is no need for it when a metacritic score can even make jump a company stock for its own.

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I have run almost every regression around game rankings to review scores possible, as well as many other models for my clients, and on the whole there is general positive correlation...however using aggregate game review scores is not a reliable method to accurately forecast actual sales for any individual product. There are many more factors. So on the whole Activision is right, but they and every other publisher knows that waaaaaaaaay more goes into forecasting sales than just critical game quality.

Thus, as a general corporate strategy for a developer or publisher you want to make games that are of higher quality than of lower quality. Pretty much every publisher at least gives lip service to that notion.

The WSJ article does make a good point that stock analysts do pay attention to review scores because they generally can influence overall sales of a product, but ultimately that influence is not entirely predictable. Suppose a highly high hyped game sequel got a metacritc scrore of 60% when the original got a 90%. Will sales of the sequel be significantly lower than what the publisher or stock analysts were expecting? Suppose the forecast was for 1 million unit sales in first 3 months of the product being on the shelf, and suppose the forecasted review score (by Wall Street) was in the 85 to 90% ranges. What would the actual 60% score mean?

Unfortunately, it's really hard to predict. We can model it using historical sales data (and other data...) which I have done about 50 billion times and the degree of error is still really really wide. For a game that was expected to sell 1 million units in 3 months, the forecast error standard deviation is hundreds of thousands of units wide. That could mean that your game sells 600,000 units when you were expecting it to sell 1Million, for example. That's a huge margin for just 1 product. So in other words, when you are factoring in review score into your forecast models, the actual results may vary widely from what the model predicts.

Anyway, this is always a great thing to talk about....glad you posted it.

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Anybody know how Ico fared in its rerun after the success of Shadow of the Colossus? Don't know how widespread that rerun was, but it certainly got significant shelf space again here in the UK. I'm doubt it was suddenly a top seller, but it would be interesting to see if it did better second time around.

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Anybody know how Ico fared in its rerun after the success of Shadow of the Colossus? Don't know how widespread that rerun was, but it certainly got significant shelf space again here in the UK. I'm doubt it was suddenly a top seller, but it would be interesting to see if it did better second time around.

After playing shadow I immediately went looking for Ico and was pretty much shit out of luck. I ended up having to buy it off somebody second hand.

Interesting though that they would resurrect a 4 year old title following Shadow's release, aside from some really major titles like the Halo's and stuff, I've never really noticed that.

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