It’s no secret that the success of Days Gone is what has led me to this question.
A little while back I wrote an article questioning whether or not Days Gone was Sony’s first dud due to the lacklustre reception it had received from critics. As I was finishing the piece, news was given to me that it had become the most successful launch title of the year so far across all formats and since then it has gone on to smash more records including outselling the PlayStation masterpiece – God of War in its first week in Japan.
So do reviews really impact the success of a game in 2019? Judging by those hard facts you’d have to say no but I find that hard to believe. Personally for me, reviews still matter a hell of a lot and I’m not just saying that because I’m a reviewer myself! In fact it’s due to the mediocre reviews that I decided to wait on a price drop before purchasing Days Gone. This isn’t the first time this has happened either, in fact for the majority of big titles I am more than likely going to see what the review scores are before parting with my hard-earned cash and I know I’m not alone here.
Sure if it’s a game from a franchise I love such as Uncharted, Batman Arkham, Devil May Cry or God of War then chances are I already have the game preordered, and unless I hear some catastrophic reviews then I’m keeping that preorder no matter what. Same goes if it’s a new IP from a developer with a stellar reputation. Aside from that though I need reassurances on a game I’m not sure about, especially if it’s a new IP from a lesser known developer or a genre of game I’m less keen on. This isn’t due to not being able to make up my own mind on a game but purely down to financial reasons.
This is where I know I’m not alone. Video games aren’t cheap, especially AAA titles and parting ways with £50 on a new game is a big old commitment for most people so we need some sort of guarantee that we’ll be getting our money’s worth. Now I’m not saying that a review is the be all and end all when deciding to make a purchase, there’s been a few times when I’ve decided that I want a game based purely of trailers and gameplay videos. Detroit: Become Human is a good example of this, I knew I’d love that game and was waiting for the 10/10 reviews to come swarming in but it never happened. It was received well and ended up sitting at a 78% on Metacritic which is good but not what I wanted to hear… This didn’t stop me though, I scrolled and scrolled through multiple opinions until I found a 9 or 10 out of 10 to justify my upcoming purchase and went on to love the game and was left wondering why I even stressed over the reviews in the first place.
I believe this is the case for Days Gone, given the hype behind it I think that a lot of people had already made their mind up that they wanted it and although reviews weren’t perfect, they were just about good enough to not cancel that all important preorder. Though if the reviews were bad and I mean REALLY BAD… Would this still be the case? This makes me think back to Aliens: Colonial Marines. Back in 2013 there was a fair bit of hype for this game. The Alien vs Predator game three years earlier was a pleasant surprise to most and just the fact that Colonial Marines was a game advertised as following the events of James Cameron’s Aliens was enough to start the hype train rolling! But once the embargo was lifted the terrible reviews began to roll in. These reviews were bad enough to stop people like me from making that purchase and saved me from wasting a lot of money on what ended up being a shambolic release. So in that sense reviews will always be a vital part of the industry.
At the end of the day, it comes down to whether you really want the game or not, as long as you’re hyped and the reviews confirm the title isn’t a broken mess then you should carry on with your purchase and make your own decision on whether you like it or not. Days Gone has proved that people will do exactly that and that’s brilliant for the industry but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t value the amount of reviews we have out there, they help guide us on those more unsure purchases, warn us of an upcoming disaster or even better – Make us aware of hidden gems and true masterpieces that may have otherwise passed us by. So yes, reviews are important but never let one make the decision for you.