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ranters and ravers

Video-Game Critics Now As Powerless As Movie Critics

Esther: loves Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, doesn't give a crap what Seth Schiesel thinks.Photo: AFP

Two of this weekend's movies — The Eye (featuring Jessica Alba as a blind concert violinist whose corneas are replaced by a maniac's) and Strange Wilderness (the long-awaited starring vehicle for Justin "The Mac Guy" Long) — were deemed terrible enough by their studios to forgo advance screenings for critics. Still, they'll probably both go on to gross $300 million at the box office and twice that much on DVD since, by and large, American filmgoers don't care what critics think anyway. Until recently, though, the same could not be said for video gamers. Back in July, the Times' Seth Schiesel concluded that, for the most part, consumers pay attention to game critics, citing the overlap between 2006's top-selling games and the year's best-reviewed ones.

Now, though, thanks to the market-expanding popularity of the Nintendo Wii, gamers are buying crap just like the rest of us. Today's Times notes that in 2007, poorly reviewed games like Mario Party 8 as well as prominent franchises such as Guitar Hero outsold highly acclaimed titles like Mass Effect, The Orange Box, and BioShock (which is so good that some even called it "the Superbad of video games"), meaning Schiesel and his ilk are well on their way to becoming as uninfluential as music critics, who, despite their best efforts, did little to save us from Chris Daughtry or Will.I.Am. Sure, the video-game adaptation of Alvin and the Chipmunks hasn't done nearly as well as the movie, but that's probably just because people are saving their money for the Xbox 360 version of Over Her Dead Body.

In the List of Top-Selling Games, Clear Evidence of a Sea Change [NYT]