There are 32 ‘critic’ reviews on Metacritic for Call of Duty on the PlayStation Vita, with an average score of 32%. That’s 32 out of 100, with an almost unilateral panning across the board from game reviewers. The highest is a 56% from a site called Digital Chumps, the lowest a 10% from PlayStation LifeStyle. It’s not, according to those that like to pronounce such things, a good game.
And yet, it seems like the buying public literally don’t care. The photograph above, taken this morning, shows the game, which is a staggering £45, is the best selling game on the PSN. I don’t know the criteria for this in terms of timespan and I’m assuming it’s legit, but that’s a remarkable state of affairs whichever way you look at it.
It’s not just sales, either – that’s a 4/5 rating from those that have bought it, from over 500 ratings. If it was terrible, that star score would reflect that, right?
- “Black Ops: Declassified is an insult to pretty much everybody and everything in the videogame industry” says Destructoid.
- “A disjointed mess of meaningless missions” says Giant Bomb.
- “Awful” says Edge.
- “Declassified is such a laughable attempt at capturing the Call of Duty formula that it borders on self-parody” says EGM.
Well, it looks like the public either don’t care what the reviewers say and buy it anyway, with the slightly ignorant (and probably nonsense) notion on-board that if you’ve bought a game for £45 you’re likely to perceive it to have a somewhat higher set of qualities, or – you know – it’s not actually as bad as everyone’s saying.
Now, I’ve not played the game – and that puts me in something of a neutral position. I’m also not exactly the world’s biggest FPS fan, but from what I’ve seen anecdotally, the game’s hardly top tier but it’s not 10% bad either. That’s just from opinions of gamers I’ve seen around the web, of course, but that’s the thing – why is there so much diversion between those that write about the games and those that play them with this game in particular?
Perhaps it's the Call of Duty label that's doing this, or maybe it's just not that bad?
For reference, Amazon has the game at number two in their top selling charts at the time of writing, and it’s £37 there. That’s still (in my opinion) far too much money for a mobile game, especially given the rumoured development budget, but at least it’s cheaper than on PSN.
It also charted at number 16 in the all-formats chart this week in the UK, second only to Uncharted: Golden Abyss in terms of Vita exclusive.
We’ve been called out on reviews in the past – comments have suggested we’ve scored too highly or too low – and that’s fine (reviews are, after all, just one opinion, objectively as possible), but with Call of Duty: Declassified it seems like it’s just one of those games with such a powerful license that it transcends anything anyone else has said about it, regardless of the size of their readership or industry clout. That says more than you might think.
It’s almost a common internet meme now that the Vita has no games, but right now that’s simply not the case. Sure, it’s currently missing that AAA system seller (hi, Monster Hunter) and sales are on a downward slope in the east, but I’ve still got plenty to play so I’m not totally sure where that comes from, and this week’s introduction of Plus is hugely exciting.
Is this a indicator that the power of reviews and reviewers is waning? Probably not, there’s still a massive emphasis on the likes of Gamespot and IGN’s scores when a game rolls around, but in this case perhaps it’s more that such a big game can move beyond the low scores and still perform admirably at retail.
Nihilistic might have re-branded and opted out of this one, but it seems like they might just have gotten away with it.