There's an article in the New York Times about game reviews that is worth a look here.
(Link may require registration.)
The article discusses the fact that bestselling books often get bad reviews from official book reviewers -- and movies that are box office winners often get bad reviews from official movie reviewers. But for games, bestsellers tend to the games with the most laudatory reviews and top review scores.
Here's a short excerpt:
“Game reviews are written by people who are, relatively speaking, gamers,” said Mike Vorhaus, a managing director at Frank Magid Associates, a market-research firm. “Movie reviews tend to be by an older person, more highbrow person, who might not have as much in common with people who are actually going to the movies.”
...Some executives in the game industry have their bonuses tied to the Metacritic scores their games receive. The problem is that following the critics so slavishly discourages people from taking chances and a dearth of creativity is the biggest problem in the game business.
I’m not suggesting game producers try to antagonize critics for the mere sake of originality. But it is worth pointing out that the only game among last year’s Top 10 sellers with a Metacritic score less than 80 was Brain Age, the mental-exercise software from Nintendo meant to appeal to users much older than the typical gamer. Nintendogs, another innovative Nintendo game intended to expand the gaming audience (in this case among women and girls) also did not receive totally boffo reviews.
If the future of gaming is in reaching beyond hard-core young male players, that may mean risking some lower grades from the young male critics. Either that or the critics themselves can open their minds to new concepts.