I had typed up a huge diatribe, but forgot to save it and my I was logged out, but I endure and endeavor to try again, this time I'm going to be more straight to the point and less ragey.
Oblivion had some of the worst character models of faces I've seen in gaming and certainly among the worst of the worst in this generation of consoles. The game was enjoyable though. Deadly premonition, as Jim has pointed out, is fucking terrible looking, with bad texturing, bumpy objects (are those wheels on the car?), hilarious voice-acting and wonky controls but it still is a great game and appealing. The reasons for both of these games successes as games, not fiscally for Deadly Premonition, is that the style, narrative and gameplay worked well within the medium and the presentation did not sell us something that the game couldn't back up. Images are worse than words because they carry no context with them. When Mr. Hines says, in refrence to the selling power of "good" graphics/images, "it's so much easier to get them (the audience)", it sounds to me like he is really saying, "images are great because we don't have to show you how this game works or how fun it is, we can show you ADD-addled children a pretty-picture and you'll buy our shit because of it, easy monay".
The message is what matters in all forms of communication, not what you are presenting in words or pictures but what is actually being said. When someone looks at an image, they know nothing other than something looks cool. Playing with cool looking shit, as has been proven in gaming, without having that mysterious and elusive fun-factor mixed in is like taking LSD and sitting in a hitlerian WWII bunker. Pretty lights and colors will appear before you, to be sure, but you aren't going to be able to do the stuff you want with them. The most popular IOS app, Angry Birds, is not a particularly graphically-stunning game compared to a game like Infinity Blade, also on the IOS, but it IS a better game nonetheless and it sold infinitely
more than most games on all of the current-gen consoles not to mention the IOS apps. WoW, when compared to the artistically and graphically stunning Guild Wars, looks like a free-online mmo, but how many users does Guild Wars still have? Funny side note, Medal of Honor looked really good too right? Wonder how that game did...
Because of editors, gamers and the noosphere of information, images are pretty irrelevant in the stream of data that gaming market and gamers are saturated with. I would go so far as to say that graphics are irrelevent, out-dated and illusionary. For games like FF7 they really mattered because it made the game stand out from all of the other JRPG's of the day but back then there were a TON of great RPG's, just not very many graphically impressive ones. Square was suffering financially something bad in those days and FF7 rescued it from the brink by the pure happenstance of hype being met and fans being made. It's part our fault as gamers, of course, we're part of the reason why our generation is so attention poor and information-drenched, image-saturated. In an age of cheap data, attention is expensive, maybe that's why it's hard to make good games now. It's easy to make things look good, but I won't buy it.