Study: Influence of review scores on game purchases

EEDAR and the Guildhall at Southern Methodist University recently conducted a study to measure how professional game critic review affect game purchase behavior. As you’d expect, there’s a strong connection between what we say about games and how many copies gamers buy.

I read the entire study. [I loved that a mock Mass Effect 2 box featured a Destructoid quote on the box in the study data.]  While I wasn’t surprised at any of the results, there were some pretty interesting findings. Participants were divided into three groups, and each were given an informational packet about PopCap game Plants vs. Zombies to read before playing 20 minutes of the game. One group’s packet contained high review scores and write-ups for the game, another had low scores, and a third control packet featured no reviews at all.

Participants that read the “good” packet before playing rated the game highly, giving PVZ an overall score of 85. The low score people gave it a 71/100. The control group gave it a score right in the middle: 79.

To measure purchase intent, those in the survey were asked to pick between $10 cash or a copy of Plants vs. Zombies. The group exposed to the high review scores were more than twice as likely to take a copy of the game over the money. The low review score guys? Over 80 percent of them took their ten bucks and ran.

Jesse Divnich, vice president of analyst services for EEDAR: “The study findings clearly indicate that properly leveraging game reviews to form a positive anchoring effect can dramatically increase consumer’s perception, adoption and willingness to recommend a game title.”

Some days I can almost feel the influence that we and other game reviewers have. It’s like holding a dangerous weapon. Even as someone who writes about and reviews games for a living, I hope that gamers will still seek out these games to judge for themselves if they’re worthy of purchase.

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Dale North
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