What makes a good game? Great gameplay, lack of bugs, pretty graphics, excellent controls, astonishing music and all that, of course. However, all that is subjective. Some people will argue that no matter how high fidelity graphics you have, they don’t look good enough or misuse effects like bloom or have an awful visual style. Great gameplay is another, with some people calling the likes of Monster Hunter and Dark Souls to have absolutely the best games have to offer, while some simply absolutely hate them and their animation management. I guess everybody agrees that games should have as little bugs as possible, thou some would argue that the existence of bugs can lengthen the life of a game and add new dimensions, like combos in Street Fighter II. Music is completely subjective, as you can have a great symphonic soundtrack that does jack shit to function alongside the rest of the game or leaves no impact on the player.
Some time ago I wrote a post about what sort of games ‘academically good’ are. Hardcore gamers wired to recognize these, but even then their own opinions and biases stand in there harshly. You can create academically perfect game, and most Triple A titles do admire this the most, but that’s not what makes actually a good game.
A good game isn’t academically perfectly made game. To put it straight, what determines a good is statistics.
Whatever a person individually thinks is a good game has a value of jack shit. What a reviewer thinks is a good game is only based on his experience with any given title and the generic view of academically good. It’s a worthless opinion. However, when you begin to look at statistics, not review statistics mind you, but sales and use statistics, you are able to see what people truly view as product worth of their money and time. Essentially, what they view as good.
This is not an opinion either. Proper statistics ignore opinions and subjective views. They’re cold facts, and the more statistics you take into notion, the more you can gather proper data what is the silver bullet in whatever genre. For example, 2D Mario has always sold more than 3D Mario. Logic would state Nintendo would produce high quality 2D Mario games because of this, but they don’t. Nintendo produced mediocre 2D Mario for the DS and it was a hit, but they never stepped up their game after that and the sales fell. They ignored the statistics and essentially fucked up.
Keep in mind that what you regard as good game is still valid, or rather is as valid as anyone else’s opinion. Opinions are the only ones we can argue over. Invalidating one opinions is invalidating one’s own opinion on the same side. One can argue for Final Fantasy V and how it’s the best Final Fantasy game ever, while the other can argue it’s really the same shit as the rest of the franchise while claiming Final Fantasy Tactics to be really the best one of the bunch. What is the objectively best Final Fantasy game lies in the statistics, of course.
I understand very well that this seems like corporate shilling. However, this absolutely ignores the companies as well. If we check the best selling (I know) multiplatform games, you see Tetris and Wii Sports at the very top with Minecraft. These Top 3 titles have well deserved their spot. Both Tetris and Minecraft not only were absolute phenomena on their own right, but have made an impact to the popular culture at large, and in case of Tetris, on the overall culture as well.
However, the data is incomplete. While it’s true that these games have sold the most unit, it ignores arcades altogether. You can’t sell a game in an arcade. Thus, we need to check the highest grossing games as well for some comparisons sake, and the titles are very much different. If we were to check even further into data, that we may not have at hand, we could check how well each of these games have managed to sell and be received each year after their initial release. We’d also need to take inflation and population change into account as well as other variables, but that’s far too much to take into for someone who isn’t educated in statistics analysis.
All the above neglects my personal games as well. Mega Man is obviously up there, but within the statistics it’s merely a footnote. Mega Man 2 looms at spot 38 in the best selling CAPCOM games, and that simple statistics tells you more than a raving fanboy ever could. It’s followed by Mega Man Battle Network 4 as the 44th most sold CAPCOM game, a thing I can’t fathom why it sits there. Nevertheless, it is the 4th most successful CAPCOM franchise out there. Still, none of these statistics change how I feel about the games I regard as worth playing and putting money into.
That goes everybody else as well, and from those the statistics ultimately form up. While it does seem like an uncaring monster, statistics are ultimately decided by the actions of the people and what they think. Those actions speak louder than any review, blog post or sales speech. That’s exactly why money speaks and wallet voting is the best, if not the only way to actually make an impact. Then again, one person’s actions against thousands of others makes little impact, and in grand scale of things that one person means absolutely nothing. Minority has their own circles most of the time, and they are always afraid that their voice will go to deaf ears if their favourite thing suddenly becomes more popular, as they become minority in their own thing. Whether or not that is wrong or not is whole another post for other time, but overall minority should never go before the majority.