Lunchtime Discussion: Metacritic & Buying Decisions

While writing the post about Metacritic’s Best of 2009 on yesterday I found myself wondering how widely used it is by gamers to help them decide whether to buy a particular game or not.  Do gamers value Metacritic’s weighted average more than they do reviews from trusted sources?  How large a factor in their game purchase decisions is Metacritic?

Personally I have never looked up a game’s Metascore as part of my game buying decision making process.  For me some games will be a must-buy, like Uncharted 2 and Forza III for example.  For games I am not so sure about I will read reviews from sources I trust (e.g., TSA and Edge) and if it is a game that has already been released I will seek out the opinions of gaming friends who have played it.

Other times I might pick up a game just because it is from a favourite developer.  Free Radical Design’s much-maligned Haze was one of those.  There was a good game in there buried beneath some over-hyped aspects, David Doak could be almost as bad as Peter Molyneux in that respect sometimes, and despite the delays it had been subject to it really could have done with another few months of work.  Maybe Raen and Gastos will use their microwave to visit a timeline where it was a deserving beneficiary of its TimeSplitters heritage and FRD was not one of the first developers to succumb to the recession?

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The final type of game purchase decision I make is the impulse buy.  The most recent of those was when I was driving past Sainsbury’s on Modern Warfare 2’s launch day morning.  £26 was too good a price to not pick it up.  Over the past year I have been making fewer impulse buys, whether of full retail games or PSN titles, as spare cash has become harder to find, while that has not affected my less impulsive game buying decisions.

That’s how I decide to buy games, now it’s over to you.  How do you decide which games are deserving of your cash?  Is Metacritic a factor, large or small, in those decisions?  Why or why not?  Has your game buying been affected by the recession or have you sacrificed elsewhere so you can continue to buy the games you want?  If you mainly rent games, what will make you buy a game and how often, if ever, do you buy games you have previously rented?

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