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Wii reviewers are the problem - Braben

Family titles critiqued "poorly, if at all".

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Frontier boss David Braben reckons the problem with Wii review scores stems from the type of critic assessing the game.

"Ruling out a source of information is never a good idea," Braben told Eurogamer, responding to Peter Moore's declaration that Metacritic is irrelevant to the success of a Wii game.

"The main problem he is alluding to is that family games tend to get reviewed poorly, if at all, by many mainstream review sites, typically dropping 10 or more percentage points as a result. Anecdotally, this is because most reviewers are what are often called 'core gamers' - and these family-focused games tend to appeal less to them (us!).

"It throws up a difficult dilemma for those reviewers," he adds. "Are they reviewing the game for those people likely to play it, or for those people who form the bulk of their readership? Clearly it has to be the latter, as that is why they are writing the review, why they are getting paid, but it devalues the accuracy of reviews as a measure of quality for family games, as most reviews are targeted at these 'core gamers', despite the fact the core gamer is unlikely to play it whatever the score."

Peter Moore argued that an advert on a website for a woman's magazine drives as much interest and consequently sales as a high review score. Examples are common and frequent: Punch-Out!!, MadWorld, Boom Blox, Okami and No More Heroes all reviewed well but sold badly in the UK. Conversely, Carnival: Funfair Games received 5/10 on Eurogamer but still enjoys a top 40 spot in the UK All-Formats chart one-and-a-half years after release.

"At Frontier we also use review scores as part of a forecasting process, but this is an indication of perceived quality, and this accuracy problem for family games is an issue that has to be allowed for. So, though I agree with Peter Moore that there is an issue here, it is more one with family games - indeed any games that do not include conventional dedicated gamers in their main audience - which are very common on Wii," said Braben.

"If there were an equivalent rating to Metacritic that only indexed family review sites, MetaFamilyCritic say, indexing the 'mommy bloggers' to which he refers, then he is not circumventing review sites - simply using a more appropriate collection that better match the audience.

"It is not really the Wii that Peter Moore is complaining about but reviews of family games in general. 'Core gamer' games on Wii still track forecasts based on Metacritic scores just fine," he concluded.

Yesterday, various industry sources argued on Eurogamer that success on the Wii is dictated by the size of advertising budget available, or the strength of brand in question.

The Wii titles present in the UK All-Formats top 40 this week support that theory.

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