What matters more: review scores or sales? Ten developers answer

Mark Mainey

Mark Mainey
Producer, Gusto Games

Ultimately it would have to be sales, because that’s how you get to number one in the charts. It is a business, after all, and being top of the charts means that you get to make another game. Obviously the two are connected anyway, as hopefully a good review has a better chance at achieving number one than a bad one. Occasionally I guess you get a 9/10 that just has too small a target audience to succeed, or a 3/10 that sells on the back of a licence and a massive advertising budget.


Kazutoki KonoKazutoki Kono

Producer, Namco Bandai

That’s a very difficult question for me to answer. Personally, I want to achieve higher review scores, but if my game gets a high score but it’s 
not bought by any of the people… [laughs]. It’s supposed to get high sales figures… and if it’s a good game, we achieve that. What’s important about game sales is that those sales support and feed the development team making that game. Since I’m the producer of a huge development team, I need to feed my people. So the sales are really important from that side – it’s really hard for me to decide which factor is more important.
Gareth Edmondson

Gareth Edmondson
CEO, Thumbstar Games

They are linked – well, not necessarily linked, but we will consider this a success in either case. Which do I find more important? Well probably, ultimately, the sales – because we are a business, after all. But we’re also a developer and we’re creative, so we want people to like what we make. There is a correlation. Sometimes you get anomalies, of course, but I’d rather make good games that sell well than good games that don’t. And I’d rather make good games than shit games. So if I had to pick one, review scores. And the chances of success are much higher with the review scores.


Richard HamRichard Ham

Freelance games consultant

Review scores, totally. Game sales is not my department. That’s up to marketing. But I firmly believe that I just want to make a game that I’m proud of, that everybody on the team is proud of, even if it’s not a big sales success. Even if it only gets played by 50,000 people. That’s 50,000 people whose lives you’ve touched in some small way, because they had fun playing your game.


Sion Lenton

Sion Lenton
Studio manager, Sega

That’s a difficult one. I’d probably go with review scores: I’ve played some awesome games which haven’t sold very well, but I’ve still thought they were great. I don’t think I could make a game which was just out there to sell well. It’s great to make a game that does both of those things, but I think feedback from my peers and the industry in general is a good pat on the back. Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily take sales if they came – but having our innovation recognised by peers for great gameplay is reward in itself.