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How Critic Scores Affect The Consumer

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If your limited spendable budget keeps you from buying all of the latest video games, you’ll probably find yourself doing quite some research on whether or not a certain game is actually worth its steep price. Ranging between $50 and $70, video gaming has become a rather expensive hobby as of late, making it hard for the average gamer to keep track of the hottest titles – and this, my dearest reader, is where the critics come into play.

A good critic has only one goal. Vaguely put, that goal is to give the consumer a proper idea of what the game gets right and what it doesn’t. A final verdict is also formed that usually comes in the form of a score between 0 and 10, as is the case here at Gamer Headlines.

The question you might ask yourself here is how badly these critic scores ultimately end up affecting the average consumer. Does a bad review score mean the game will bomb, or is the writer’s verdict more or less irrelevant in the end?

As a reviewer myself, I approach every game with an average 7 out of 10 in mind. I try to limit my expectations as I build my score based on what I like and what I think the game could’ve done better – obviously. Some severe downsides (e.g. unresponsive controls and a diversity of technical shortcomings) can easily turn a 7 out of 10 concept into a 4 out of 10 failure. Luckily, I found these situations to be extremely rare nowadays.

Something that is harder to do, however, is allowing the good to overshadow the bad. Let’s face it: we human beings are incredibly picky when it comes to where our hard earned money goes to, yet some poor executions and questionable design might keep you from experiencing an otherwise enjoyable adventure.

Just because a certain game includes some downsides doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. You might prefer smooth gameplay over superb story telling, yet someone else entirely can overlook some hitches in terms of gameplay as long as the story keeps them engaged. That is why a trustworthy critic has to look at titles with a neutral perspective, and while this isn’t always an easy task, it’s that exact neutrality that makes reviews and their corresponding scores relatable.

Allow me to clarify this by using an example. Imagine this: you’re hesitating between purchasing late 2014’s first-person shooter Destiny or the more recent role-playing title The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. When you compare the average critic scores for both titles, you’ll notice that The Witcher 3 comes out noticeably stronger than Destiny.

If you’re someone who prefers solid action over richly detailed story telling, however, you might find yourself being drawn to Destiny more so than to The Witcher 3. While both games are great in my humble opinion, I can see how some could find Destiny’s lack of explanation troublesome and why others think The Witcher 3 feels slow and bulky.

Personally, I think that a combination of ups and downs like the ones listed above will ultimately be the decisive factor. Tastes differ, but noticeable flaws and masterfully tackled features can easily catch your attention if you were to look at the game with a certain thoroughness.

Should you ever find yourself stuck between two games, think about the 4 P’s: players, press, price and promotion – in that order.

First look at the attention and love the title got from a selection of different players, either by looking for them through forums or simply by asking the opinions of your friends.

Secondly, head towards the critics. While it’s not always easy for one man to reflect the opinion of an entire website, reviewers usually get picked for good reasons. Read the good and the bad reviews, and ultimately pick the side of the reviewer you found to be the most accurate in his or her description of the game.

Still not too sure? Then go by the game’s price. A new $70 game will most likely get a temporary price drop or an exclusive sale soon, making it a better investment to go with the cheaper $40 counterpart. Waiting to pick up a game a while after its release is usually the safest bet, especially in today’s controversial industry.

Finally, look around you. See a lot of commercials and promotional posters for a certain title? That probably means it gets more love and attention from both the consumer and the developer alike. While this fourth step might not always be as accurate, it does give you a general idea of how badly the industry cares about that game.

So, in short: critic scores don’t necessarily determine whether or not someone will pick up a certain game, but it will however influence their interest in it. If you’re hell bent on buying that one game you’ve been excited for since its announcement, you will most likely still be picking it up, even if that game scores noticeable below what you expected it to get.


Original Author: Sven Boonen