We don’t consider results as a binary “successful” or “not successful” because that isn’t a useful metric. Instead, we have targets and our success or failure is measured by how far away from the targets we hit. Thus, there are very different decisions made around a game that is just a bit below target and a game that misses the mark by a wide margin, even though both would be considered failures.
As you may imagine, critical success is absolutely a helpful mitigating factor that can factor into continuing a franchise that didn’t miss the target by too much. No More Heroes and Bayonetta are both series that had disappointing sales for their initial games but managed to continue. However, there are also plenty of franchises where critical acclaim was insufficient to persuade publishers to continue funding their development - Square-Enix’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Psychonauts (whose sequel was eventually crowdfunded), and Bioware’s Jade Empire were all games that were critically well-received, but were too far from their sales target to continue.
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