Research Spotlight: Scores matter to video gamers

'Plants vs. Zombies' trailer screenbgrabVideo game review scores influence consumers, at least to an extent – according to a new study by EEDAR (Electronic Entertainment Design and Research) and The Guildhall at SMU.

Study participants were shown the game Plants vs. Zombies. The researchers found that those gamers who were shown high review scores (of about 90) gave higher scores of their own (about 85) when asked to give their own review score after playing the game.

Their scores were 20 percent higher than those of participants who were given low review scores (61) prior to playing the game; those respondents gave review scores averaging 71.

(Note: the Metacritic score for Plants vs. Zombies is 88 – not far off the 85 score given by the higher score group and the 79 given by the control group, which saw no reviews prior to playing the game.)

After they played the game, participants were offered $10 or a copy of the game. Participants exposed to the higher reviews were more than twice as likely to take the game than the cash.

In addition, those in the high review score group were 40 percent more likely to recommend Plants vs. Zombies to friends than the low review score group.

The results suggest that professional video game review scores can influence the marketplace, the researchers say. “We knew that review scores influenced consumers, but to what degree we couldn’t measure,” says EEDAR’s Jesse Divnich. “Still, as people, if you ask yourself individually we say, ‘No, we are not persuaded by outside sources. We make our own opinions.’ But obviously, the review scores influenced them.”

“This research, which has identified key behavioral aspects, is part of an overall objective of ours to ensure that we are always on the cusp of what is next in an ever-changing environment of the video game industry,” says Peter Raad, Guildhall executive director. “The driving force behind what we do is based on what is happening beyond our campus – in both distance and time. Preparing students to become industry leaders requires a commitment to ongoing research.”

> Read the full story from USA Today
> Learn more at The Guildhall at SMU website