Keith Stuart has written excellent analysis of one of the great mysteries of our time: why is the game FIFA Street topping the charts when all the reviewers reckon it’s a pile of pants? This bit’s priceless:
How videogame reviewers would like people to buy games:
1. Read reviews in dedicated videogame magazine
2. Make informed choice based on considerations of game depth
3. Go to independent game store and buy game
4. Play for many months, determined to wring every ounce out of the experience
How people actually buy games:
1. View a range of brilliantly produced TV adverts, created using jump cuts of pre-rendered footage, perhaps with the odd two or three micro-seconds of gameplay.
2. Choose a game that is attached to the most currently visible brand (at the moment that would be Dr Who, Frank Lampard and the Roman Catholic church)
3. Go into highstreet videogame chainstore where row upon row of shelving, as well as window areas and point-of-sale advertising space, has been bought up by the publisher of the game mentioned above.
4. Play alone for a few hours. Play for a few hours with mates. Consign to shelf, or return to highstreet videogame chainstore along with a couple of other neglected brand games, to trade them in for… FIFA Street.
This ties in nicely with all the guff about “New Games Journalism”, the quest to inject gonzo-style writing into video game magazines. I’m all in favour of better journalism, but NGJ depends on the first scenario – “how videogame reviewers would like people to buy games” – rather than the reality.