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Behavioral Study Shows Effect of Critics Reviews on Purchasing Habits

DALLAS  (July 7th, 2010) - The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University and Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR) recently conducted a behavioral study 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.

“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.

At the end of the gameplay portion of the study, participants were asked if they would rather have $10 cash for participating in the survey or receive a copy of Plants vs. Zombies.  Participants exposed to the higher reviews rated the game 20% higher than the group exposed to lower reviews and were more than twice as likely to take a copy of Plants vs. Zombies over the $10 cash.

“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, Vice President of Public Relations at PopCap Games, makers of Plants vs. Zombies. “This study illustrates not only that game quality trumps hype, it also shows how important it is for game makers to establish and maintain good communications with the media outlets that cover video games.”

“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,” said Dr. Peter Raad, executive director, The Guildhall at SMU. ”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. We look forward to additional consumers studies with EEDAR in the near future.”

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Posted by: Redeema
Date: July 7, 2010

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