Review scores don’t sell games on Steam


Steam’s best-selling games of 2017 infer that vicious regard has tiny temperament on blurb success.

Now that we’re finally giveaway of a maelstrom that was 2017, we can take a step behind and consider one of a few joys that a past 12 months did not destroy: video games. Along with a many best-of lists (such as a possess round-ups of 2017’s best PC games, best Xbox One games and best Nintendo Switch games), a large digital storefronts are rolling out their possess analyses of how games fared over a final year.

Steam is heading a container with a fascinating look behind a typically inflexible curtain, charity adult lists of 2017’s best-selling games, tip new releases and games that boasted a tip series of coexisting players. On their own, these lists paint a revelation design of a gaming landscape in 2017, with a arise of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and a continued recognition of Grand Theft Auto V contextualising a actions of studios like EA in their change from single-player, story-based games to multiplayer-focused games-as-a-service.

What’s some-more interesting, though, is a story Steam’s sales rankings tell when interconnected adult with vicious accepting data. Taking all a games from Steam’s 2017 best-sellers list that validate for MetaCritic scores, we set out to establish either there was any poignant couple between examination scores and sales opening on Steam.

In what is firm to upset many a numbers-focused executive, we detected no transparent association between sales on Steam and vicious reception. While many of Steam’s tip sellers are indeed among MetaCritic’s aloft scoring games, there are copiousness of well-reviewed titles that unsuccessful to find success on Steam in 2017. Conversely, many games that unsuccessful to stir reviewers managed to stand to a tip of Steam’s sales charts, even when Steam’s possess user examination complement shocked opposite them.

Note: Steam’s tip sellers list is formed on sum revenue, that levels a personification margin rather for comparing full-priced AAA games with cheaper indie games. However, sum income does not cause in costs like selling and licensing, both of that can minister significantly to sales numbers. Bear that in mind as we examination on.

The first, and simplest, comparison to make is between a several sales ranks in Steam’s best-sellers list. While Steam does not exhibit specific sales figures, a 4 ranks – Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze – yield a suitable categorisation for identifying any trends.

Looking during a median MetaCritic scores for any rank, it’s transparent that any association between measure and sales is minimal during best. Not usually are there a measly 4 points between a median measure for Platinum arrange games and a median measure for Bronze arrange games, a Platinum arrange contains dual games scored during a tiny 69: Warframe and Ghost Recon Wildlands. Meanwhile, any singular diversion in a Gold arrange scored 74 or more, and nonetheless any one was outsold by titles that MetaCritic categorises as “mixed or average”.

Looking over a ranking tiers, it becomes even some-more apparent how indeterminate success on Steam is. As we can see in a graph above, a game’s position on Steam’s best-seller list has tiny to do with a MetaCritic score: ARK: Survival Evolved sits atop a sales draft with a MetaCritic measure of 70, while bad Dishonored 2 hangs onto a bottom mark notwithstanding a significantly aloft MetaCritic measure of 86.

MetaCritic measure isn’t a usually metric that varies severely between Steam’s best-sellers. Despite a diversion industry’s omnivorous craving for new experiences, many of a tip sellers on Steam in 2017 expelled in 2016 or earlier. Games like Grand Theft Auto V, Rainbow Six Siege and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt continued to sell gang-busters years after their launches, outperforming newer transport like Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and Nier: Automata. Some of this comes down to a latter games lacking a full 12 months’ value of 2017 sales, though it also speaks to a continued support studios like Rockstar Games and Ubisoft have shown for their games good past their release.

To serve illustrate a undo between MetaCritic scores and Steam sales performance, we compared some of 2017’s highest-rated PC games that didn’t make a best-seller list with their more-popular brethren.



Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

MetaCritic: 83


Nier: Automata

MetaCritic: 84


theHunter: Call of a Wild

MetaCritic: 64


For Honor

MetaCritic: 76


Tales of Berseria

MetaCritic: 80

Non Best-Sellers


What Remains of Edith Finch

MetaCritic: 89


Torment: Tides of Numenera

MetaCritic: 81


Slime Rancher

MetaCritic: 81



MetaCritic: 75


The Legend of Heroes: Trails in a Sky a 3rd

MetaCritic: 83

As we can see, a high MetaCritic measure doesn’t pledge a diversion will soar adult a sales charts, only as a reduce MetaCritic measure doesn’t doom a pretension to blurb failure. When a critically praised Night in a Woods can’t make a cut notwithstanding an 88 MetaCritic measure while a decidedly disciplined Ghost Recon Wildlands can float a 69 MetaCritic measure all a approach to a tip of Steam’s charts, it’s straightforwardly apparent only how lax a tie between examination scores and sales opening is.

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