MOOD SWINGS #1
Days Gone sales prove reviews don’t matter.


MOOD SWINGS
By JAY TEE
21/05/19

Days Gone did not review well. A quick glance at review aggregators across the web reveals an undeniably mixed response across the board. For every positive about melee combat, bike handling, and enemy design, there were complaints about inefficient storytelling, unlikable characters, and wonky shooting. It’s a huge AAA game from a studio that has been out of the home console development game for some time. SIE Bend Studio have spent the lions share of their recent years making handheld spin offs of other big Playstation titles. Resistance: Retribution and Uncharted: Golden Abyss were both solid efforts, but a fair chunk of the criticism toward Days Gone takes the angle that Bend wasn’t ready to make the jump to current gen.

But here’s the thing. Despite all of the above, Days Gone is selling like gangbusters. Three weeks at number 1 in the UK, with an even more impressive record in Japan, where it has already beaten lifetime sales of God of War, Detroit: Become Human, and The Last Guardian. So what gives? For me, the bottom line is that Days Gone ticks the boxes that matter. It’s a challenging open world that doesn’t hold your hand. The overlapping A.I. systems are well developed, and constantly present new surprises. Most importantly: it’s fun. But then, aren’t all these things subjective?

This happens to me a lot. And I get very stressed, every time.

MOOD SWINGS?

Besides being the obvious side effect to a hormonal outburst, ‘Mood Swings’ is an editorial crafted by our editor Jay Tee, alongside contributions from the team. It’s like a series of extended tweets, ranting or raving about something terrible / great that has happened in the world of gaming. It’s a collection of random musings designed to provide a snapshot of what we’re doing, things you should be excited for, and stuff to avoid as you navigate the choppy waters of this wonderfully unpredictable hobby. Anything, from reactions to a new game announcement, surprising breaking news, to our cat just nibbled our thumb sticks, can be found here. There’s one primary “Mood Swing”, along with much shorter thoughts, tagged with either a green, yellow, or red Tarp badge. This represents a visual indicator of our reaction to each news item.

RAGE 2 REVIEW COPIES

Several outlets are moaning that Bethesda didn’t send them a review copy of Rage 2 pre release. Erm… entitled much?  Publishers can do whatever they like!

SUPER MARIO MAKER 2

Nintendo have announced a 15 minute Direct for the game. Unless they’re about to announce an insane co-op mode, or a ‘Dreams’ style 3D level creator, I’m kinda ‘meh’.

A PLAGUE TALE: INNOCENCE

This game is getting outrageously good reviews. It’s nice to see a AA publisher finding success in this space… even though reviews don’t matter, right?

Therein lies the problem at hand. Just like any game, isn’t it reasonable to assume that ones reaction to any part of it is subjective, and therefore a player’s (or reviewer’s) experience can be massively different from one person to the next? Why is it then that this game is selling so well when the reviews have been so average? I think it comes down to the power of streaming and social media. I’ve come across countless gameplay clips, uploaded to Twitter or YouTube, where a shocking emergent moment or skillful horde elimination would in itself be enough to make me pick up a copy.

The positive sentiment from folks online backs this up. Days Gone demo’s incredibly well (despite the early days of wonky performance during past E3 events). And it’s these moments that have clearly created enough momentum to ensure the sales have longevity. My fiance and I are both really enjoying the story and characters, despite them both being a common thread in many of the critical complaints. And when you consider all of the above, alongside the undeniable impact of social media on how games are viewed nowadays, it’s not that big of a leap to state that the reviews really don’t matter. Metascores and back of the box quotes might be important to publishers, but I think it’s the content that sells the game.

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