USA Today on SMU Guildhall study: Video game review scores influence consumers

A three-day study by The Guildhall at SMU and Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR) found that video game review scores influence consumers, at least to an extent.

The behavioral study was designed to measure the influence professional critic reviews have on purchase behavior, willingness to recommend, and consumer perception of individual video game titles. The results reinforce the industry’s assumptions of a strong causal link between professional critic reviews and their ability to affect consumers” actions and perceptions, said the study’s designers.

“Video games are increasingly contributing to the overall health of the entertainment sector, so it’s crucial to understand behavior,” said 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.”

During the three-day study that took place at the SMU campus in late March, 188 participants were asked to play a 20 minute session of the game Plants vs. Zombies. Each participant was randomly placed into one of three groups and asked to read an informational packet about Plants vs. Zombies before playing. All the information within the packets was identical except that one packet had high critic reviews of the game, the second had low reviews of the game, and the third (control) group had no reviews of the game at all.

USA Today in the July 8 article “Survey says video game review scores affect consumer behaviors” quoted the makers of the game: “We’ve always known that good reviews are beneficial to a game’s sales, but we didn’t realize just how significant a role they play in the purchasing decision process,” said Garth Chouteau of PopCap Games, makers of Plants vs. Zombies, in a statement on the study.

EXCERPT:

Video game review scores influence consumers — to an extent, according to a new study by EEDAR (Electronic Entertainment Design and Research) and The Guidhall at SMU.

Those shown high review scores for the game Plants vs. Zombies before playing the game tended to give the game a lower score than the review scores afterwards. Those given lower review scores prior to playing the game responded by giving the game higher scores than those shown to them.

However, those shown the higher review scores were twice more likely to take a boxed copy of the game instead of $10 cash. They were also 40% more likely to recommend the game to a friend than the low review groups.

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