Review scores have a definite impact on sales in this industry. There's a reason EA routinely says they strive to produce 9+ games; it's because they know that, for the most part, quality still succeeds.
Even the biggest franchises aren't entirely immune. This year's Madden NFL 2012 received a relatively lukewarm reception and although it still topped sales charts for a while, it didn't exactly break records. However, once you reach a certain size, perhaps the review scores finally don't matter at all. Maybe all you need is endless celebrity endorsement, a multi-billion-dollar advertising campaign, and legions of dedicated fans, all of whom have willingly shelled out in years past and will do so again.
So, just for the sake of argument, what if Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 earned disappointing review scores? I don't expect it to happen but again, it's just for the sake of debate. Would this have any effect at all on overall potential sales of the game? Or would it just break more records and end up selling 30 million copies, regardless of worldwide criticism? As another question, how low would the average review score have to be to have any effect? 8s might not hurt…but what about 7s? 6s? It's very unlikely, but I'm just wondering if the rampant popularity of this franchise has superseded the critic's role.
Heck, why even review the thing? Those who want it know it already, right? Those who hate it won't ever get it. And really, it almost seems as if gamers are separated into two distinct groups; the love-it and hate-it crowds. Is anyone really on the fence?
Related Game(s): Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3