Friday, 1 February 2013

Schrödinger's Sales Charts

Or, how I learned to stop worrying and ... well, nothing really.

Alright, it's about time that I stop avoiding this issue. This will probably be the last, fleeting time that I touch upon DmC: Devil May Cry, the reboot of the franchise which has provided me hours of entertainment. I was considering talking about it at length, but let's be honest: I haven't played the game beyond the demo, I don't plan on buying the game or playing it at any time in the near future, at all. I may be able to touch upon some of the things I've seen from various videos I've watched, and I've already talked about where I stand as a fan of the old. Besides that, fellow blogger Voltech has done a fantastic job, of looking at the game, and the story. Plus the fact that he's actually played it means that he's far more qualified to lead a discussion about it than I.

That being said, there's still something, or rather one last thing to talk about, and it's a conundrum that's been prevalent for a while but that I believe this situation shows off quite spectacularly.

That is, this game is doing FANTASTICALLY! Oh wait, that's not right, it's doing INCREDIBLY POORLY! Wait, wait. No, what the hell? It can't be both of those things. And yet, those polar opposites seem to be exactly what different people are reporting, and using the same figures to boot.

We've seen this kind of situation happen before. The clearest example in my mind aside from this is how Prototype 2 topped the sales charts yet still failed to meet sales expectations. The case with DmC isn't even that though, it's still far too early to tell whether the game has sold well or poorly, but already people from both sides are crawling out of the woodwork using the ranking to either praise or condemn the game.

Even with my admitted grudge against this title, I can see that this is bloody asinine.

These kinds of reports don't take into consideration whether the people that have bought the game are happy with their purchase. According to what I've read elsewhere they don't take online sales into account at all period. Even if a game is number one on the charts, there's no way to tell if it's been selling above, below, or on par with expectations because there aren't any actual bleeding numbers behind it. Just a ranking saying that "this sold the most x week or x month" which is about as pertinent to anything as how many waffles the dev team had for breakfast while making the game.

It would be one thing if this information were being tempered with the fact that it's not really indicative of much, but as you can see, people only seem to care about what will get their article views. Statements like the shock-schlock I used above get hits, plain and simple. It's a sad truth, and one that's going to have to change if gaming journalism hopes to get any sort of credibility back.

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