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The Order: 1886 sales success, shows reviews don't matter

The Order 1886.jpg

A few years ago a motoring journalist colleague of mine made the lament, "It doesn't matter what we say, they'll just keep buying Toyotas." It's pretty much the same with game reviews, I'm starting to think. Game reviewers can say whatever they like, but gamers will still buy whatever they like.

Order up

The Order: 1886 hasn't had the best time on the review circuit. Currently the game has a metascore of 66, which Metacritic defines as mixed, with many of the reviews bringing up the issue of the game's lengthInterestingly, the game's user score on Metacritic parallels the pro scores, coming in at 6.6. Our own review wasn't too flattering either, with our reviewer urging gamers to perhaps consider spending the cash elsewhere. 

Yet despite the mediocrity of the critical numbers, the sales numbers tell a different story. According to GFK Chart-Track, a research outfit that monitors music, videos and software sales at retailers in the UK and Ireland, The Order: 1886 is the bestselling game of the week in the UK, grabbing the top spot from Evolve.

But how can that be? The game has basically gotten a critical drubbing, how can it being so well. You know what other game had came under similar fire? Destiny. And that game didn't seem to bothered by it either. Logically, they shouldn't really be doing as well as they have and yet here they flying off shelves. Why?

Because reviews and their scores aren't nearly as influential as people would like to believe.

There's no accounting for taste

The truth is there is no logic at play here. One of the things you need to accept when you write professionally about entertainment products is that you can never tell what is going to be a hit, and that quality is not always an accurate indicator of success. The inverses is also true, lack of quality does not automatically equate to failure.

How else do you explain the meteoric success of James Cameron's Avatar or the 50 Shades of Grey books and movie?  Now, The Order isn't quite on that level, but so far it's doing pretty well, yet it does fall into the same box as the franchises I mentioned earlier. Critics dislike it, yet the public loves it. And who can honestly say why that happens? Yesterday, we tried to unravel the mystery with the question, "Is there a way to determine if a game is worth its price tag?" There is a long history of the buying public making up there own minds, regardless of whatever the critical press says, which extends across all entertainment media, and it really demonstrates how anemic the power of a review can be.

I've always maintained that in the majority if cases, gamers already know what games they want to buy long before they actually come out and use reviews to affirm those decisions. Unless those reviews are universally contemptuously damning, the public will ignore it. It hearkens back to that lament of my motoring journalist colleague. It really doesn't matter what the reviews say, people will buy what they want to buy. Right now, it would seem that people want to buy The Order: 1886.

Who am I to say they are wrong to want that?

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