New research from financial analytics firm EEDAR concludes that software reviews matter more in the early part of a console's life cycle. The new research from EEDAR provided to GamesIndustry International this morning shows a stronger correlation between review scores and sales early in a platform's lifespan.
The firm compared its own review metascore for games with more than 10,000 units sold through at US retailers with their first year of sales (or three months in the case of newer systems) and found that (regardless of the platform they appeared on), the correlation between review scores and unit sales lessened for games released in the latter two-thirds of a system's lifespan.
"[A] title is less likely to succeed on brand power alone," Divnich said of games at or near launch. "Consumers have just dropped $400 to $500 on a new platform, so those first $60 software purchases are critical and consumers will mitigate their risk of buying a game they may not like by applying more due diligence such as reading more review articles or asking core gamers in their social circles who traditionally keep their finger on the pulse of what's good and what's not."
"I believe that you can tell a lot about the demographics of a user base by seeing the correlation between review scores and sales of a platform," Divnich said. "A lower correlation would indicate that the consumer base is judging purchasing decisions off other factors outside of review score."
Divnich added that systems with a more "casual user base" tend to see their software sales mostly unaffected by review scores.
At the end of it all EEDAR concludes that game quality is very important when a new system launches, with a new IP that receives decent scores at launch more likely to get multiple sequels (think Dead Rising).
You can read more about EEDAR's pontifications on the matter over at GII, which includes a handy dandy infographic...