While most all of you will immediately scoff and respond in the abrupt negative, I believe it's a legitimate question. Bear with me.

When you look around the Internet and visit gaming communities and forums, you will see countless discussions concerning the best games of the the year; this tends to happen as we get towards the end of December. And you will notice that someone will mention something about sales numbers and quickly thereafter, dozens of people will slam on this dude and laugh at him for thinking "sales have anything to do with quality." Heck, I did something similar when we announced our Game of the Year Nominees and the concept of sales numbers caused me to reply with those very words. But ever since then, I've been starting to think outside the box a little, so-to-speak. While I will never believe that the consuming public will always reward the best-quality entertainment products (there's a reason why so many have never even heard of Oscar nominees these days), there's something else here…

The purpose of any given entertainment industry is to cater to as many members of the targeted demographic as possible. That's basically the goal in any business. Therefore, when something like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 or Grand Theft Auto IV sell millions of copies in only a few days time, that's very clearly a rip-roaring success, regardless of your own personal preferences. Should we not reward developers for being able to win over so many of the intended audience? Is this not worthy of positive attention? Furthermore, there's the social gaming aspect of the industry, which is – for all intents and purposes – almost brand new, especially in the console world. A game like MW2 really relies on multiplayer, for instance, and it must please entire groups of gamers who come together to play. To continue to succeed in that is another success.

Clearly, the games that sell well are doing something right. You could blame it all on over-the-top marketing but gamers have never rewarded crappy productions; they may have rewarded "great" games more than "excellent" ones, but we shouldn't be complaining about that, should we? Perhaps we should also look at sales numbers when determining awards and say to ourselves, "well, how many people did they really snag with this one?" On the other hand, we could simply hand out awards based on how we – the staff in question – view the merits of each game, and that's that. Of course, I'll still go with the latter but it's not quite as cut-and-dry as one might think…

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NoSmokingBandit
NoSmokingBandit
10 years ago

The problem with appealing to the general public is that the general public is full of morons. This is why bands like Nickelback and Shinedown are selling tons of records but nobody is listening to real high-quality music like Bach and Chopin.
This is not always true though, some really good quality games sell well, but generally speaking sales mean nothing when it comes to value.

Happy late christmas everyone!


Last edited by NoSmokingBandit on 12/25/2009 11:02:35 PM

johnld
johnld
10 years ago

i think calling them morons is a little too harsh. i think its more of a herd complex where they chose to just follow instead of making up their own viewpoint. as long as a small vocal group supports mediocrity, there will be people who will just follow. I mean i like playing multiplayer on Modern warfare 2 but thats only part of the game, but even that is not the best shooter i played. IMO its not even close to be good enough as a Game of the Year contender. Same goes for halo, i played it a few times and it was fun but nowhere near the quality of what people want you to believe. i want to name a ps3 exclusive too but i cant think of one that i didnt completely love. I could say that i bought haze day one and found it decent at best. Not even close to how badly people put it down. It was enjoyable when i played it and thats all i care about.

Qubex
Qubex
10 years ago

JohnID does have a point… difficult to consider this complex subject in a relatively short post…

Briefly though, consider this… the effect of popular culture on a "herd".

Let us accept this fact at the very least; we are all part of a "herd", but to varying degrees.

Reality is, most individuals that form our humanity have half decent brains which evolve through life experience, education and application (use)… On an individualised basis "stupidity" and "level of stupidity" can be subjective; the thought processes and methodologies an individual employs to make choices to accept or reject products that seemingly reflect a cultural tract, or parts there of, vary, and therefore can result in the "herd" mentality when it comes down to some aspects of life.

In this case it could be the act of buying or voting for a particular game product; even though, with close scrutiny, the game product in question may truly not be worthy of an accolade when analysing and dissecting it from a very "intellectual" point of view, and/or "technical" point of view…

On an individualised basis, with the right information and knowledge, and with the correct analytical approach, individuals with a brain could and should judge a game product for what it really is. What does that game try to achieve in its representation of popular culture; and does its execution warrant the types of awards that ought to be bestowed on it whether or not it sells a million units or not?

A good example of this is Demon Souls. From what I read here it seems like it really is a superlative title, innovative and well executed; but then why has it not won awards for it's efforts? Why has it fallen off the radar screen in light of other AAA titles that have been released of late? What happened to gamers and their critical eye; their method of analysis; their appreciation of a well designed, well executed game that unfortunately has not sold as well as it could?

Has popular culture gone mad? Is it influencing and skewing the methodologies by which individuals analyse game products and their true potential?

Q!

"i am home"


Last edited by Qubex on 12/26/2009 9:19:54 AM

dlte
dlte
10 years ago

but the general public is full of morons. that's also why fox news has the highest viewership of cable news.

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
10 years ago

I love Nickelback and Fox news. I guess I am a moron, but I know what music I like, and I certainly know where to get my intellectually honest news from. Not sure why you would bag on either of those two entities.

Fane1024
Fane1024
10 years ago

Fox News isn't news. Even if you're conservative, you should be able to see that.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

Great point with the Oscars. It's sad to see how few have actually watched the movies that have won.

MW2 rode the coattail of MW1. If Uncharted2 was multiplatform it would not have come close to selling the amount that MW2 has. Certain genres tend to sell a lot in particular areas, (RPGs in Japan, FPS in the States). Obviously millions of people can't be wrong but a game that sells 5 million vs a game that has only sold a little over a million does not show which is the better game.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

My thinking is we just hand them an award for most sales, how about that?

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

We already do, it's called the checkout.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

I dunno, I've bought plenty of crap over the years. I certainly didn't award my money to them.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

I'll admit I've done the same but thankfully most was done in my teens and when stores still had great return polices, (Buy a game, return it a week later for a full refund).

Lately I've been thankful for demos/torrents/and reviews like PSXE to keep me educated on what deserves my money.

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
10 years ago

Limited, buy a game, and then return it a few weeks later? That is a return policy I could really get behind.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

Build a time machine and go back to Orland Park, Illinois during the period of 1992-1999.

Enjoy! It's that easy!

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

I was still working at EB when that policy got abolished. I believe my manager said something like, "the company finally decided that they didn't feel like renting games for free."

Larsperson
Larsperson
10 years ago

EB games in Australia has the 7 day return policy on all new games. I know of a few people who regularly buy a game for an easy platinum then return it within a week and get something else. Personally I like my game collection too much to return anything.

Buckeyestar
Buckeyestar
10 years ago

Sales=popularity, not necessarily quality. Just because American Idol is the most wildly popular show around, doesn't mean it's good television. Same principle applies.

TheJackyl
TheJackyl
10 years ago

"they may have rewarded "great" games more than "excellent" ones, but we shouldn't be complaining about that, should we?"

I think we should. Otherwise what is there to encourage developers to make excellent games as opposed to somewhat more mediocre games by comparison.

I'm not going to say that games like MW2 are as poor in quality as say a Britney Spears' album but there are some similarities. Primarily that these games tend to have a lot on the surface but no real depth. At least that is what MW2 seemed to me for the 15 minutes I played in on single player. No, I didn't try the multiplayer but I'm the type that believes these games still need an engaging single player mode first and then a fun multiplayer mode second.

TheJackyl
TheJackyl
10 years ago

Also, aren't excellent sales figures a reward in themselves?

This is why there are separate award competitions. There are the ones that are juried by renowned critics and then there are awards given through popularity vote. This is why the Oscar's are more respected than the MTV/Teen Choice Awards. The opinions of proven professional critics are held in higher esteem than the opinions of Joe Blow Plumber and Mary Sue.

Using sales figures to qualify a game for an award is simply adding the popularity vote, which in my opinion, lessens the awards validity.

to_far_apart
to_far_apart
10 years ago

You do make a valid point Ben. Although, I still feel that the sales of games shouldn't affect awards or nominations in the respective categories. Unfortunately, there are many people who rely on figures and marketing solely, rather then trying it out for themselves. Since society today is mainly market driven, then you do see a correlation between a company who promotes their products more then others. I agree that companies who have huge success with a game should be noticed. Like you mentioned, games like GTA and Call of Duty are widely popular because they execute their games perfectly to the audiences they're focusing to. Such a feet should be rewarded, or appreciated, I guess then it would all be personal opinion if it should be included for nominations.

But i still feel that sales figures shouldn't be taken into account. It's true, the widespread majority have not seen half of the movies that are nominated or even win their respective awards. But the idea that any company could have a legitimate chance to be rewarded for their work, is really the bet option in my opinion. I mean granted, Call of Duty MW2, has been selling copies like if it was going out of style, but has it really been the best game of the year? That's still personal preference like everything. Granted, such wide success, is what draws consumers from everywhere, and "validates" itself among people. Unfortunately, these same people don't play the little hidden gems in gaming that are sometimes under-appreciated.

Unfortunately, there are to many people that believe that high sales figures equates to a high quality experience. Rather a game should be recognized for the overall quality, story, experience, etc. But that's just me haha

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

You need to post on here more, you're an excellent writer.

to_far_apart
to_far_apart
10 years ago

Like i mentioned in previous comments, i think the addition of online play in gaming has affected gaming to a point. Now, let me clarify, I'm not saying every game that has an online playing component is bad, but if you notice, overall, quality of games have suffered. Unfortunately some companies focus a lot of their time on the online component, do to such popularity for online play. But this shouldn't affect game quality. You have seen companies succeed with a great online mode and a great story, so i guess you could argue that it depends on the developer, but i still feel that online has had a huge impact on this.

to_far_apart
to_far_apart
10 years ago

haha thank you! writing has always been a hobby of mine! i appreciate the compliment =)

Gordo
Gordo
10 years ago

If you start making a distinction between "popular" and "classy" you will end up being "elitist".

This must be the general gist of any "game of the year awards". You need to reflect your own preferences but also keep close to the general populations preferences.

We shouldn't have to jump on every bandwagon and rate every blockbuster 10 out of 10 but critically review it like you guys do here.

At the end of the day every review is personal and dependant of the gamers own preferences. I might have liked Dragons Age Origins 10 years ago when I was single and at University and had 50 hours to play it.
I loved Uncharted 2 because it wrapped me up with an excellent story and gave me a few hours escapism every evening after work for a couple of weeks.
Also as a teenager with loads of friends Modern Warfare 2 might have been my favourite because we could all play together.

So horses for courses as they say.
I appreciate the work that goes into every game and would love to play them all if lifes commitments didnt get in the way.

Also popular shouldn't be confused with "lowest common demoninator". Just because a game is popular doesnt mean it is brainless or common. It may be more the "broadest common denominator" so games that are aimed at the biggest world wide demographic like GTAIV and MW2 are the biggest sellers.

Should they be the award winners? That is the difference between popular and critical acclaim.

So is Modern Warfare 2, Killzone 2, Demon's Souls, Uncharted 2 or Assassins Creed 2 the game of the year?

Popular or critical? Sales versus reviews? Technical versus gameplay? Herd mentality or go off on your own?

Good luck guys… Damned if you do and damned if you don't!


Last edited by Gordo on 12/26/2009 12:21:45 AM

to_far_apart
to_far_apart
10 years ago

Great post!

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

You can separate elitism from simply being knowledgeable though. Many people make the mistake of transposing the two.

At the end of the day a published review is not reliant upon the reviewers preference. One's opinion on a game can differ drastically from an informed critique.


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 12/26/2009 12:47:38 AM

Gordo
Gordo
10 years ago

cheers!

Some of the games of year at the moment are Demon's Souls, Assassins Creed, Batman and Uncharted 2.

I think most have kept away from the "elephant in the room" Modern Warfare 2.
I loved MW2 but it was like watching a series of 24 with Keifer Sutherland instead of Indiana Jones which is Uncharted 2. Assassins Creed 2 was more like the Sopranos or Rome!

Probably from a critical point of view Demon's Souls is the game of the year since it took internet connectivity to another level and immersed you in a whole new universe. Annoyed that the game isn't out in Europe or Australia so cannot play it! That must be a negative point even for a US website! ūüôā

Anyway, all I know is that I've played enough excellent games this year for my wife to want to cut my HDMI cable in half (that is a euphemism by the way) so the only winner is the gamer.

oldmike
oldmike
10 years ago

deamon souls has 2 thing that make some HATE it
1 its hard many play for fun not to get mad
2 some one can enter your game and kill you
this is why i passed on it that and i like story in my rpgs and i read its a bit weak

StevieRV
StevieRV
10 years ago

i agree ben, throughout the year you have said in countless articles that the alltime greatest sellers closely resembles the greatest reviewed games, so therefore best selling games are usually the best games

jerocarson
jerocarson
10 years ago

i think they should work pari pasu

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
10 years ago

Then I'm pari pasu with Nike ….

"JUST SAY NO"…


Last edited by BikerSaint on 12/26/2009 1:28:57 AM

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
10 years ago

also means "hand in Hand" according to Google

Gordo
Gordo
10 years ago

Pari Passu – fairly, without partiality.

Definately should be the motto of this site.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

But that's boring, come on.

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
10 years ago

@LV,
Then how about…

"F*ck em if they can't take a joke"?

(it always works for me)

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
10 years ago

Saint you usually have a habit of making me laugh but for some reason your post this time REALLY got to me, can't stop laughing thinking of you saying that line.

Oh and by the way there is a mountain of snow outside. So make that 3 layers of ICE covered by what looks to be 6inches of snow. DEATH TRAP.

Gordo
Gordo
10 years ago

ok, needs to be this one instead:

"A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi"

Between a rock and a hard place!

NeutralGamer_86
NeutralGamer_86
10 years ago

Although sales at times indicates how popular a game is, it does not mean that it's the best. With all the sales that MW2 received, it was beat out by another game in it's category. Let's just say it's been a successful year for PS3 games.

http://www.gamespot.com/best-of/?ttag=mktg_newsletter&tag=nl.e573

www
www
10 years ago

My answer is Yes. There's a reason why millions bought MW2, so it shoulda been in the GOTY nominees regardless.

Hezzron
Hezzron
10 years ago

Millions in sales AND great reviews. It deserves at least a nomination for GOTY.

Jawknee
Jawknee
10 years ago

Millions buy Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus records, it doesn't make their music good or even quality.

www
www
10 years ago

Hezzron you know it.
Jawknee, I know…..but you mean it doesn't deserve a nomination?…naaww


Last edited by www on 12/26/2009 2:30:31 PM

Jawknee
Jawknee
10 years ago

Based on sales, no.

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

That's what eludes you Jawknee. It's not ONLY because of sales. The sales are there because it's a friggin good game regardless of your personal tastes.

Sales does NOT equal quality, but as Ben points out, would the sales even BE there if the game was crud? You think devs can bamboozle 5 million gamers? You're dreaming.

oldmike
oldmike
10 years ago

"You think devs can bamboozle 5 million gamers?"

Halo says HI

Hezzron
Hezzron
10 years ago

@Jawknee – Do you have any clue as to who buys millions of Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus records? Little girls.

Little girls wouldn't want YOU reviewing their music any more than WE would want government officials reviewing video games.

Sales numbers are all relative too. You can't just blurt out something popular that you know most people here wouldn't like, and think it'll drive home your point.

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

@ oldmike – Here's a new concept for you. Halo single-handedly brought the FPS to consoles. The millions of customers who bought Halo weren't bamboozled, they bought what they liked.

Jawknee
Jawknee
10 years ago

Doesn't matter who buys those reords. Its a nonsequiter. Ben asked if sales should impact the nominations and awards. Just because something sells well doesn't automatically mean it's deserving of an award. If it's such a great game then it can be judged and win without taking sales numbers into consideration. This goes for any game. If you have to point to sales and say "see, people bought it, it must be good!" that doesn't say much. The question of why did it sell surfaces and THAT is what should determine if it's worthy of an award or not.

Alianage, your forgetting Golden Eye. Halo didn't "single handedly" do anything.


Last edited by Jawknee on 12/26/2009 7:59:12 PM

Alienange
Alienange
10 years ago

Don't be silly Jawknee. The damn snes had Wolfenstein. That's not what I'm saying. Halo, single-handedly introduced FPS to millions through it's online action. It didn't matter that the game lacked in other areas, the game gave gamers what they wanted so they bought it up by the pallet. You think reviewers should just turn a blind eye to that and say "bah, there was some screen tearing here and there, it's bad game?"

Jawknee
Jawknee
10 years ago

Aah forgot about online. You got me on that one sir!

___________
___________
10 years ago

well you would think so.
if a games so good and gets rave reviews, and just by word of mouth you would expect it to sell well.
but clearly thats not whats happening.
owell, keep bringing the games and im happy.