We've heard of publishers putting pressure on sources to award games higher scores, but this is new.

The Internet is a-buzz with a user review recently posted at Metacritic: it comes from a user named "Avanost" and apparently, it's more of a promotion than a review. We say "apparently" because the review was removed shortly after it was posted. But here's a snippet from the volunteer analysis:

"The immersion and combat of this game are unmatched! A truly moving and fun epic. Anything negative you’ll see about this game is an overreaction of personal preference. For what it is, it is flawlessly executed and endlessly entertaining."

It was also true that DAII was the only user review Avanost had ever submitted. Come to find out, the "reviewer" is an EA BioWare engineer. Since everyone discovered this disturbing factoid, the review has disappeared and neither EA or BioWare will make any sort of comment. But this is definitely worthy of discussion, don't you think?

It's a user review and not a professional review that will be counted in the Metacritic or GameRankings database, so isn't everyone entitled to that? Or does it make more sense to say that his affiliation with the maker of the game disqualifies him for an opinion? What do you think?

Related Game(s): Dragon Age II

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slugga_status
slugga_status
9 years ago

If you are involved in the creation of a game I don't think you should review it. You let the people and your peers judge your work. Reviewing something that you helped create says many things and one of them is to boost sales.

I think it would be different if he had been reviewing games before. But to have your first review to be something you had your hands on, just tells me there was more too it..

Excelsior1
Excelsior1
9 years ago

i absolutley agree with that. few, if any can be unbiased about there own work. plus, it creates a pr nightmare for bioware. frankly, i'd fire him. he had to know better.

Minishmaru
Minishmaru
9 years ago

It'd be the same as me grading my own term paper, am I really gonna give it a real grade or am I gonna make it better than it should be? Duh! 95%+!!! 😉

Excelsior1
Excelsior1
9 years ago

i don't like this sort of thing at all. kind of reminds of the of ms. saw something else interesting about da2 today. 57% sales are on the 360, while only 22% are on the ps3. that's an enormous split between the 2 platforms. i wonder what's going on there.

kraygen
kraygen
9 years ago

Can you post a link, I'd be interested in seeing that article, I find it a little hard to believe. Was it written by a reliable source or someplace like xbox magazine?

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

BioWare only recently jumped on the PS3 bandwagon, and while Origins was on Sony's console, many said it was better played on the 360. I don't see people saying the same thing about DAII, but we all remember.

BioWare is most commonly associated with Microsoft (PC and Xbox), in much the same way Square-Enix is still commonly associated with PlayStation.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 3/15/2011 12:19:10 PM

Excelsior1
Excelsior1
9 years ago

that makes sense, but with da:o the 360 accounted for 42% of sales. you would think the split would be a lot wider on the 1st game rather than the second.

Bonampak
Bonampak
9 years ago

@kraygen

The DA2 attach rate that Excelsior1 mentioned here comes from EUROGAMER. However, those numbers come only from sales that took place in the UK.

EUROGAMER also mentions this: "This sales picture (Xbox 57%, PS3 22%) suggests that Dragon Age II on Xbox 360 is the better console game. But that's not the case; actually the PS3 version was ever so slightly preferred in Eurogamer's Dragon Age II face-off".

Temjin001
Temjin001
9 years ago

lol awesome. devs should be able to toot their own horn if they'd like.
I love that he seems to have dumbed his language down for us common folk.
I also particularly like this line, "Anything negative you’ll see about this game is an overreaction of personal preference."

SvenMD
SvenMD
9 years ago

Personally, I gave you a thumbs up, whether you're kidding or not.

I don't care if someone that works at a company toots their own horn, but they should come out and put their name on it. If they think it's the best game ever made, then they should be able to express that. But I don't like hiding behind the internet and acting like it's just any other user review.

Temjin001
Temjin001
9 years ago

thanks, for the up thumb. Yeah, I suppose it breaks the gamer ethic code. I just can't help but find humor in this incident and I liked it.

Jalex
Jalex
9 years ago

I don't think it's a problem so long as it was a user review. One should be entitled to speak their thoughts on a game whether they had anything to do with it's creation or distribution or not.

slugga_status
slugga_status
9 years ago

That's like Burger King coming out with a new sandwhich and the chef that created it submits a user review about it praising it as the best sandwhich ever. And if you hear anything negative then it's a overreaction of their taste buds.


Last edited by slugga_status on 3/15/2011 11:05:49 AM

Ludicrous_Liam
Ludicrous_Liam
9 years ago

Nothing wrong as far as I can see…? It's a user review, not like it means boosting DA2 sales or anything.

kraygen
kraygen
9 years ago

not necessarily, a lot of people read more user reviews to determine if critics are just being picky.

Simcoe
Simcoe
9 years ago

I don't believe BioWare told to this guy to write and post such a review. I'm sure this happens more than anyone knows, and it certainly isn't limited to the games industry. How many Wikipedia articles regarding companies, products, events, people, etc. aren't helped along by people with a direct vested interest in how those companies, products, etc are portrayed.

mexgeo86
mexgeo86
9 years ago

While it is not 'illegal' per se for someone to write a user/personal review, these actions make it seem as if the engineer is NOT satisfied with the final product and thus is worried that it may not fare as good as it was thought to. His wording choice too, makes it sound more like a promotion than an actual review.

coverton341
coverton341
9 years ago

Well, on the one hand, everyone is entitled to an opinion and this review, as stated in the article, was a user review that did not get factored into the Metacritic score.

On the other, if an engineer that helped create the game is writing a review, it was, again as stated in the article, probably more of a promotion than a review.

I would say, that if he took a true and honest assessment of the final product; because we all know that no single engineer makes an entire game, then his review should be valid. For example, if he stated that the exclusion of being able to choose armour for your party was a bad design idea, and pointed out the actual negatives in the game, let the review stand.

Let's be honest though, there are plenty of users on there that let fanboyism of a game or franchise boost their own scoring of the game.

kraygen
kraygen
9 years ago

Welcome to the morally gray area. Yes it was a user review and wasn't factored into the actual metascore, but that doesn't necessarily mean it was right either.

If companies write their own user reviews for any products it can skew the results of the user score and ultimately it just seems a little petty. Whether he did it on his own or not, someone apparently thinks the game needed every advantage possible.

I think this falls into that area where it might not be considered dead wrong, but it's going to make most people frown at it.

JSwayze
JSwayze
9 years ago

BioWare is going to release a statement saying, someone hacked his account

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

An employee should of course not write a "user review" since he's not a user but first and foremost an employee. It's not how the user reviews are intended to be used.

On the other hand it's utterly naive to think that this does not happen in all quarters. Play com is riddled with user reviews like that. I would not be too surprised if there is guerilla marketing firms that offer fake postings on forums etc as part of a marketing package.


Last edited by Beamboom on 3/15/2011 12:12:46 PM

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

… But then again, what's the difference between a fanboys "review" and an employees "review", really…


Last edited by Beamboom on 3/15/2011 1:34:33 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

The difference is like asking what's the difference between a review written by a gourmet and a review written by someone who never eats anything but McDonalds.

Critics in all entertainment venues must have qualifications. I know people – especially gamers who love to claim anyone can do what a game critic can do – think otherwise, but this is the truth.

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

Ben, please. The engineer in question here is the employee. This is the topic we're discussing, right? I'm not talking about you or any other professional reviewer. So, what's the difference between a EA BioWare engineer written review and a fanboy review? I'd say in reality almost nothing, it's both promotion.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

Depends on if he's being honest, doesn't it?

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

Well, if they both are being honest then I guess it's no difference either, even though that's not what I meant.
With a "fanboy review" I meant the typical, all positive to the level of almost being untrue, kind of comments. The kind of comments meant more to promote a title than to share actual, objective facts. In those cases it really doesnt matter much who wrote it. In my opinion.

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
9 years ago

This sure makes me wonder if reviewers are paid off sometimes.

Soultaker
Soultaker
9 years ago

Honestly from seeing it i would have to say that it shouldn't have been done. Looking at the user reviews though for Dragon Age 2 it was raided by a large amount of angry people giving it a fat 0 and saying the game sucks. I think people abuse the user review total score average. That's my opinion on it anyway.

Not sure if they've cleaned up all the 0's or not though

-edit-

Just looked at the PS3 and 360 user reviews for the PS3 the score is 3.7 and for the 360 it's 4.7 I don't think the user reviews are fair when it comes to crap like this


Last edited by Soultaker on 3/15/2011 12:21:30 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

This is why you don't ever trust user reviews. A few are really good while the vast majority are just plain stupid.

SvenMD
SvenMD
9 years ago

Now Ben, I'm sure you mean user reviews at OTHER sites….cause here at PSXE, we trust all of our user reviews, right??? 😉

EDIT: haha, see below…


Last edited by SvenMD on 3/15/2011 2:28:22 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

Well, I'm talking in general/overall. We tend to have much better user reviews because we tend to have members who can actually speak, write and function like human beings, even though they're on the Internet.

Not so much in other places.

MMaLuFF
MMaLuFF
9 years ago

This is one of the reasons i prefer to read the reviews here.

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

Some user comments on this site may very well be written by employees too. You never know. One should always keep that in mind, regardless of what site it's posted on. PsxExtreme reviews are linked from Metacritic and gamerankings – it's how I got to know this site. It doesn't make it less trustworthy. Rather the opposite, actually.

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

Beamboom, that's just absurd. We know very well who the employees are who comment on this site considering it says Amin or what ever their title is next to their name.

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

Do we really? Do we know the background of every new nick that pops up? Of course not.

I'm obviously not talking about the oldtimers, the well known nicks. But what we talk about here is a new user that posts *one* comment. Explain to me again how we can be so sure on this site, as opposed to any other site.

(And when I say employee, I mean of course the game publishers, just like on Metacritic. Not of psxextreme…)


Last edited by Beamboom on 3/15/2011 2:53:26 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

I can promise you that there are no mysterious PSXE staffers who post Comments under disguised names.

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

"(And when I say employee, I mean of course the game publishers, just like on Metacritic. Not of psxextreme…)
"

Well now your first post makes more sense though I still haven't seen any evidence to prove this theory here at PSX.

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

I can't understand how I can be this misunderstood! Seriously… The topic here is a EA BioWare engineer writing fake user reviews on Metacritic. How can you all interpret this into being me accusing psxextreme-emplyees of creating fake comments…?!
Of *course* I do not think you're faking comments, Ben. And Jawk, I agree, no evidence yet, but that doesnt mean it won't happen. Had PsxExtreme been a larger site it would raise the probability of it happening, I'm pretty sure. There's no mechanics preventing it from happening, to put it another way.


Last edited by Beamboom on 3/15/2011 3:17:32 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
9 years ago

It wasn't misinterpreted. You asked Jawknee if we really knew the source of all the names on this site. I told you none of them are from PSXE. Simple.

Beamboom
Beamboom
9 years ago

Ok 🙂

NiteKrawler
NiteKrawler
9 years ago

Of course he should be able to give a review. I mean, anyone who goes to metacritic for a quick look at an average score should know that user reviews are taken into account. It is their problem if they go by what some random unqualified/obviously biased source says as if it is gospel. It is not hard to find real reviewers like Ben and Arnold and the great reviewers at EDGE. Ha. Should I say that I'm joking about that last part about EDGE? I really shouldn't have to…

Alienange
Alienange
9 years ago

Bioware should fire that guy. Get rid of him. Like large companies need more asses in their employ than they already do. You want to work in your company's PR department, go apply like everyone else. A loose cannon is a danger to a company and should be gotten rid of immediately.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

I'm enjoying the game but whose personal preference is FOR screen tearing, hitches, pop-in, and murky textures?

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

I know right? Does he think people are stupid?

SvenMD
SvenMD
9 years ago

As we know, Jawknee LOVES screen tearing…in fact it seems like he buys games just to determine whether it has screen tearing or not! 😉

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

Ha!

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

There's a TON in DAII for PS3.

kraygen
kraygen
9 years ago

Another reason I have stopped buying games at release, wait till they are cheap and they have all the updates that make them do less of what you're describing.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
9 years ago

HA! Whatever floats your boat. Given the wording, the clear desire for praise, the apparent negation of any negative elements to the game, and his job, I'm going to say that it was foolish of him to do this. It just seems a way of gloryhounding. But you can't really fault the guy. I mean, every little bit of marketing helps, even if it some random user review.
Peace.

Jawknee
Jawknee
9 years ago

Yea, this is pretty pathetic. As a musician I wouldn't feel right anonymously talking up my own record while pretending to be objective. He made a big mistake and made Bioware look bad in the end.