Metacritic Scores Really Do Matter To Video Game Sales

EEDAR analyst Geoffrey Zatkin has shared some interesting facts and figures with Destructoid regarding Metacritic and video game sales. According to Zatkin average review score floats around the 68-71 out of 100 range, but the games rated in that range rarely sell more than 100,000 copies. Here’s a few more insights that you may find interesting:

  • Titles rated below 80 sell poorly
  • Average review score is around the 68-71 out of 100 range
  • These games rarely sell over 100,000 copies.
  • Using the 3-month average sales of titles in 2011, games in the 70-79 range sold only 62,000 units
  • 60-69 range sold roughly 57,000 units
  • 1,024 games were rated at 50 or below last year
  • These titles average 30,000 units in 3-month sales
  • 216 games rated at 90 or above in 2011
  • These titles saw average sales of 700,000 units
  • 80-89 rated games saw a 3-month average drops to 236,000 units


  1. Umm… that’s a bit misleading. This is a statistical correlation, not causation. If you presented evidence that Metacritic scored specific games very low, while all other publications scored these same games highly, and the games themselves sold less than well, then this would be grounds for a cause-effect study. Basically all this article says is that Metacritic generally judges when a game is good or bad. Which it does.

    1. This. I feel like video game analysts either state the obvious or have no idea what they’re talking about.

    2. Isn’t metacritic a combination of ratings from different reviewers and not just one? Nintendo Power, Gamespot, IGN, and Game Informer are all parts of this. So “Metacritic scored specific games very low” doesn’t really apply since they themselves don’t score the games, they combine scores.

      1. Metacritic also has a very large number of user ratings and reviews so it’s generally less biased than big gaming publications and reviewers.

      2. Yes, but the point still stands. It’s unfounded to say that Metacritic scores affect sales directly. Its like saying I bought Game X, Y, and Z, and those games were very successful; therefore, my game purchases “really do matter” to the whole video game industry.

        When I gave the example of an experiment where metacritic’s score is low comparatively, I meant that in a purely hypothetical way, as of course the way metacritic is set up prevents it from being anything but a mean of public reviews. A much more logical and plausible statement would be that game reviews in general matter to video game sales. The title indicated that Metacritic caused games to succeed or fail – a causation – whereas in reality (unless proven otherwise), Metacritic, by nature, just represents the opinion of the general public – a correlation.

    3. I think a bunch of median averages (and the total number overall) of games that sold over a certain threshold of sales would have been a much more accurate representation than a mean average.

  2. I usually buy games if they are 7 and up. If they are lower, I will try a demo or rental or just move on.

    1. Why 7? Why do magazines/websites and their readers seem to decide 7 is an average score, like 50/100. A 5 is an average game, enjoyable with problems; 6 is a good game with a few niggles; 7 a very good game; 8 an exceptional game; 9 a game everybody should seriously consider owning; 10 a perfect game. A 10 should hardly ever be given out unless it’s truly perfect (like, say, Mario 64). Personally I wish they would scrap review scores completely and do away with crap like Metacritic. Look at the idiots giving Skyward Sword low marks as they can’t just hammer ‘A’ and Mass Effect for daring to have a gay romance.

      1. In school a 50/100 is failing, a 60/100 is barely passable, a 70/100 average, 80/100 above average and 90/100 very good. Thus that’s likely the reason why it’s judged so.

      2. That logic is pretty damn sound, actually. No need to be an asshole.

        There are two ways to look at aggregate scoring: as a percentage or as an unweighted plot on the number line. A 50% means the game got things right half of the time, whereas a 5 out of 10 means the game is exactly average, with no major highlights or downfalls. Most websites lean towards the percentage way of thinking, but display scores in a single-digit fashion (hence the plethora of 7’s and 7.5’s across most websites). This simplified notation is easier to digest at a glance, as it removes nuance and arbitrary decimals.

        If you’d like examples:
        1-Up grades in letters and so exemplifies percentage, whilst Game Informer uses a pretty strict 1-10 scale that places average games around 5.

      3. Why? Because people have limited money these days, and if they can’t access a demo, they’re better off trying games that are graded higher. It’s not a matter of a 7 being a bad game, it’s a matter of all those 8’s and 9’s being BETTER games. And that’s what most people want.

        When you have a system like Steam, where games become dirt cheap, you start buying 6’s and 7’s; when a game’s $5-$10 it’s easily justifiable. But I can’t justify spending $35 ($50 in SA) on a game with a rating of 6 (I sometimes spend that much on 7’s, usually because I’ve played them before and find them to be much better than a “7”) or lower, when an 8 or 9 rated game (MGS, upcoming KIU) is the other option.

      4. abujaffer has has a very good and true point. Certainly in my case, at least.

  3. Gee, good games sell more and mediocre/poor games sell less?
    The scores on Metacritic aren’t a reflection of the sales. As aforementioned, it’s a correlation. Games with high scores sell independently of the score they receive, so it is misleading to say that a lower score on Metacritic will result in less sales. It’s going to sell less because it’s a poor game, which Metacritic only reflects in the score.

    1. Uhhh some very good gems get rated bad by these types of websites because they don’t “match modern standards.” which isn’t fair. Some of best games don’t have ‘amazing graphics’, ‘enthrallingly dark/deep stories.’ or whatever. You shouldn’t rate a game for how it compares to ‘modern standards’, but for what it is.

    1. You don’t even know what Metacritic is, do you? I bet you’re assuming that they are one company that rates games.

      1. One of their critics rate 1 at Super Mario 3D Land and 0 at Skyward Sword.YOU MUST BE DEAD DRUNK TO RATE THIS LOW!!!!

  4. I usually buy games due to personal taste and the taste of someone else… I mean my first person shooters tend to suck… But they get high ratings despite them being the same as any other first person shooter… If you buy based on rating you are a retard…

    1. Agreed…a true Gamer does not go buy a rating, but by own opinion, or even with advice from a friend.

    1. There’s one of you every day posting that exact same comment.

      You must be part of the “how is this Nintendo News” secret society.

  5. I don’t think so. Metacritc’s score is based in a lot of publications, and these publications can give whatever score they want to the game. I’ve seen games like Ocarina of Time getting an 4 from an unknown publication.
    It seems like a coincidence. If the game is awesome, it will score higher and sell better…

  6. Game ratings really don’t matter to me. I may check them out, but usually if I was going to buy a game in the first place, it’s a done deal.

    Leave luck to heaven.

  7. So we have to blame Metacritic for the fact that Nier criminally undersold?

    But Don’t the likes of Dynasty Warriors get panned and sell well?

  8. I have to say I don’t believe meta critic matters. Modern Warefare 3 had a 12 on it the last time I check a 12, and it sold shit tons even though people knew it sucked.

    1. That’s user reviews.

      Unfortunately there are trolls that just post negative reviews.

      Like mass effect 3.

      Game in no way in hell, is a 1.4 as is shown by the user reviews.

      1. That’s funny to watch. While game websites gave ME3 epic scores (all between 9 and 10), the user review notes are all near 5. Some of them may think they’re just trolls, but to be honest, they showed good reasons to give the game such mediocre note. Lots of websites are talking about it so I’m not going into that point. But from what I read, this game ain’t no Skyrim, but it definetly isn’t any piece of trash. I’d go for a 7.5

  9. This doesn’t bother me tho.


  10. I never trust reviews anymore. They always seem more biased than they should be. A lot of the games I actually love to play were scored very poorly and I was told to never play them. I buy games that I want to play not based on what others tell me. I have found more games I enjoy by basing them by my own judgement than by another user.
    ( especially when the game involves any type of physics implementation, I’m already attracted to it. xD )

  11. OR the games that score high are just better than the games that score low and therefore sells better… Just saying :s

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