As both someone who’s been credited on a couple of critically-panned games and as someone who’s pushed to hire developers who have worked on critically panned games, I will tell you that having shipped the game is vastly more important than the shipped game’s critical reception. There are a thousand different reasons that a game can get a bad critical reception and most of them are out of the control of individual devs on the team.
What’s far more important to me as a hiring manager is your individual contribution to the project. I want to know that you’ve done the work and saw your project all the way through the end. I want to know that you can finish what you start, which you show through shipped games. To paraphrase another game dev, “If you look closely at the game dev process, it’s a miracle that any game ships at all.” Game reviews are generally about the entire experience, which tends to be larger than the contribution of any single dev on the team (unless you were the only developer on the project). Our individual contributions tend to be much smaller in scope overall, even on small teams. When it comes to hiring, however, it is those individual contributions that we look for because we’re looking for somebody who can contribute in specific areas.
Unless you were one of the top leadership positions on the team making the big decisions about the game itself (in which case you probably wouldn’t be asking me for advice about this), I wouldn’t worry about it. The top decision-makers are usually the ones who take responsibility for the game’s direction and the most responsible for its reception. For the rest of us, we take our marching orders and do our best. As long as you can show the hiring manager that your skills and judgement as a game dev in your field hold up, I promise we won’t hold any shipped game’s critical reception against you.
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