GoldenEye dev remembers the apprehension about the game's release
Back when GoldenEye was released on the N64, the world was a very different place. You couldn't get immediate feedback on a game from the public at large. The internet wasn't really a widespread thing by any means. This meant that when devs released a game, they had to sit back and wait for magazine reviews, and word of mouth.
GoldenEye dev David Doak looks back on those days in a Nintendo Life interview, and recalls how apprehensive RARE was about GoldenEye being well-received, because they simply had very little idea what the public would think.
I don't have clear memories of the exact public retail release date. There was definitely a fair amount of apprehension because we really had no idea how well it would be received. By way of context, we knew that the game had been very popular in testing – particularly after feedback from NoA / Treehouse – and with the other teams at Rare (there was even an internal trade in illicit multiplayer ROMs), but the public showing at E3 1997 hadn't set the world on fire. The critical feedback was also not immediate – again, there was a lag, certainly for print reviews, and online was still relatively niche.
In 1997 at Rare, there was one machine with direct internet access (in a locked room!) and I would regularly check to see if reviews had come out, and I particularly remember reading IGN's very positive review by Doug Perry. Later, the UK print review in EDGE magazine was another big sigh of relief, and something that mattered a lot to us on the team because it was so respected.