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Do game reviews sell games?

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A common belief is that positive reviews are paid for and the gaming media is corrupt, and if this true then surely game reviews must influence sales, right? There are also those who claim the opposite, that they aren’t paid for and that reviews don’t contribute to sales. Unsurprisingly this is often the argument from those within gaming journalism.

So who’s correct? How important are review scores to the average person, and can they influence your decision to make a purchase? To answer these questions, I decided to take a look at the role product reviews play by analysing the wealth of available research data. I also looked at e-commerce to see how reviews have been leveraged in the sales process and how important they are from a UX perspective.

What I found was surprising. According to
podium state of online reviews - Do game reviews sell games?

most studies and the people involved in selling games, reviews are a significant contributing factor in convincing people to buy stuff. Even more surprising though, is that expert reviews (those created by the mainstream media) may not be the most influential. In fact for younger audiences, user reviews appear to be the most persuasive.
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What’s interesting is that many people consider the opinions of reviewers online just as trustworthy as those from the people they know offline. Expert reviews still have a high level of trust with most people, but according to an article published in the
Harvard business review, people are more trusting of critic reviews that are less favourable. In other words, critic opinions are perceived to be more honest when they aren’t glowing, and maybe this explains why some people feel that critic reviews are fake when they’re overwhelmingly positive.

Reviews are also much easier to consume than ever before. They can be presented as long-form articles. They can be short one paragraphs displayed next to products. They can be tweets or Instagram posts and they can be video reviews or let’s plays. The quantity and variety have increased dramatically in recent years because anyone can easily create a review and post it online. We’ve never been more informed or had so much choice, making it easier than ever to find an opinion to trust.


Conclusion

In a world where online shopping has become the norm, the ability to seek the opinion of others quickly, without leaving your house has become incredibly valuable. Whether it’s to find out more, get that last nod of approval before you buy, or simply to feel good about an existing purchase, game reviews have never been more important when it comes to selling games.

I dive much deeper in this video

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