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Dragon Age 2 Conspiracy - Highest rated Metacritic review by Bioware employee (with zero disclosure)

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 11:06:00 -0700

First post ever, but I think you'll find this interesting...

Checked out Metacritic for Dragon Age 2 reviews (after hearing about all the changes from Origins, was a bit skeptical). After seeing it got a generally favorable score, I checked out the user reviews, since they usually offer a more accurate portrayal of how a game actually plays.

Right off the bat, I notice there's something...off with the top user review (by 'Avanost'). It reads almost like a press release. I do not trust it:

"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" (emphasis added).

Sketchy to say the least.

So I check Avanost's Metacritic profile (http://www.metacritic.com/user/Avanost - cache), and, whaddya know, he’s only ever written one review. On Dragon Age 2.

So I Google ‘Avanost’, because I’m starting to not trust this motherfucker. And a Plurk (WTF is Plurk) profile shows up (http://www.plurk.com/avanost), revealing a name.

So I Google the name, all the while cautioning myself that this could be a completely different Avanost, and not to jump to conclusions, and WHAT THE FUCK HE’S AN ENGINEER AT BIOWARE. (Linkedin profile)

I have to laugh, because this really borders on farce.

Despite reeking of impropriety (and the fact there has to be a rule against doing this in the Bioware employee handbook), ole Avanost has no problem writing a review with zero disclosure of his industry ties, as long as you pick up a copy of the “flawless” Dragon Age 2 at your nearest retailer.

(Disclosure: Sensationalist title to garner interest.)

EDIT 1: This is a matter of ethics and integrity. A consumer requires objective information in order to make an informed decision about purchasing a product. If the line between editorial article and product review is skewed, then the consumer is being deceived at the cost of their eventual trust and loyalty to the company responsible. This is why disclosure of industry ties is necessary to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

EDIT 2: For those of you frothing at the mouth in the comments about how anyone who doesn't like Dragon Age 2 is retarded (including me), take a deep breath and relax: I like the game. I was checking out the reviews because I wanted to read what other people thought of it (I've since borrowed it from a friend; piracy at its finest). That does not mean I wanted to read reviews written by Bioware employees cloaked as genuine. That is not okay, under any circumstances, for any employee, of any company. (And for those saying it might not be the same guy...yes, I'm sure this is all one big coincidence. He just happens to respond to, and simultaneously dismiss, the most prevalent criticisms of Dragon Age 2 in one fell swoop.)

EDIT 3: So they're going into damage control mode, and the review has been deleted. (Cache). Thanks to SnakeLinkSonic: a breakdown of my 'investigation'.

EDIT 4: Okay, so now 4chan is just bombarding Metacritic with fake reviews again, so let's pretend I didn't compromise my integrity by referencing them earlier. (Also, TIL about 'astroturfing'.) If anyone finds another verifiable fake review from Bioware, feel free to post it.

EDIT 5: Russian Bioware forum. (Original.) - This is not an official site; apologies.

EDIT 6: Story picked up by CapsuleComputers, GamerTell, Pubvo, VividGamer, Nexus404, PixelApocolypse, TechSpotlight, VGChartz and Thumb-Culture (where my attempt at investigative journalism is referred to as "slightly stalkerish". Thanks to everyone sending me links, tough to keep up.

EDIT 7: Gamepro, Escapist, Kotaku (EA's Senior Public Relations Mananger responds).

EDIT 8: EA's response: "Of course" we did it, "that's how it works." Apparently their public relations manager is unable to grasp the distinction between voting for industry accolades (analogous to the Oscars or Grammy's), and manipulating review scores to influence consumer purchasing decisions (analogous to the example below from the FTC guide). So your fears have been realized. This is company policy at EA/Bioware, and further, they're not ashamed in the least. (Note the amount of downvotes this post has received since the story broke on Kotaku; another harmless coincidence from your friends at EA/Bioware.)

EDIT 9: Related thread.

EDIT 10: According to Escapist, Dragon Age Project Manager Benoit Houle is LupoTheButcher. Metacritic review, Twitter.

FTC Guide Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising: "§ 255.5. Example 8: An online message board designated for discussions of new music download technology is frequented by MP3 player enthusiasts. They exchange information about new products, utilities, and the functionality of numerous playback devices.

Unbeknownst to the message board community, an employee of a leading playback device manufacturer has been posting messages on the discussion board promoting the manufacturer’s product.

Knowledge of this poster’s employment likely would affect the weight or credibility of her endorsement. Therefore, the poster should clearly and conspicuously disclose her relationship to the manufacturer to members and readers of the message board" (emphasis added).

Twitter search.

EDITED BECAUSE I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO USE REDDIT.

submitted by GatoFiasco to gaming
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Killzone: Shadow Fall Review Thread

Wed, 13 Nov 2013 06:46:40 -0800

Metacritic Score - 73

IGN - 8.0

There's never been a better time for everyone to be paying attention to the Killzone franchise, because Shadow Fall is a step in an all-new, very welcome direction.

CVG - In Progress

Overall, Killzone Shadow Fall is a pleasant surprise. It doesn't seek to reinvent the FPS, but it does inject a much-needed infusion of creativity and originality into the genre.

Gamesradar - 4/5

Sure, Killzone: Shadow Fall has its lulls, but it's a mostly enjoyable experience from start to finish. This is no doubt the PlayStation 4's strongest exclusive launch title.

PSNation - 9.5

Even with a couple of stumbles during the campaign, this is a fantastic game, and like I said, I have a hard time believing that this is a launch title. Shadow Fall is the biggest step in evolution that the series has seen, and although a few die-hards may have an issue with the more open nature in sections, I think that many are going to appreciate what’s been accomplished here. The story takes some pretty interesting twists and turns, and the action never gets stale.

Multiplayer.it - 8.7

OPM UK - 8/10

A mix of familiar gunplay and just enough new ideas, gorgeous looks and sheer technical wow to make you feel like you're stepping into a shiny new future.

Gamespot - 7/10

Guerrilla Games remembered what drew me and many others to the front lines of online war, and it's here that Shadow Fall emerges from the rubble and flies into the electric skies.

Eurogamer - 7/10

It's a game that any new PlayStation 4 owner will be proud to show off - but it won't be one they remember by the time PS5 rolls around.

Polygon - 5/10

For all the next-gen bluster of its visuals and the repeated blunt-force attempts to ram a message home, Guerilla's first shot on the PS4 retreads shooter cliches, and poorly. In a launch lineup crowded with shooters, Killzone: Shadow Fall sits at the bottom.

Kotaku - No

There's an element of braggart showmanship to Shadow Fall. It's as if with every mindboggling vista or nutso-busy cityscape Guerilla is saying, "Hey, look at what we can do." But the problem with all the visual dazzle is that it makes the screen hard to read. Someone's shooting at you; but from where? You're supposed to climb a cliff; but which parts? The tricks that developers use to drive the eye to key parts of a game world get lost in a ton of visual noise.

Videogamer - NA

Guerrilla Games is a master at creating technically excellent but utterly lifeless titles - the 'game' element is seemingly little more than an interactive showcase for its skills. Killzone: Shadow Fall is both ahead and behind the times, with gameplay sadly falling into the latter category.

Joystiq 3.5/5

Killzone: Shadow Fall loses its sheen at times, usually when pursuing moments that are cinematic but not sensible. As a shooter, it's better at thriving on eye-catching environments and supportive combat abilities that don't just come for free. It also can't help but blow up its pristine cityscapes before you get to know them, but that just goes with the territory, here on the border between good and great.

Destructoid - 9/10

A hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.

GameTrailers - 8.8

Guerrilla Games needs to recognize that it's not plot points and politics that move its games, but the bullets and guns. If the campaign could take a step back from the spectacle to focus on core concepts and feedback loops, the qualities that make the multiplayer suite so flexible and entertaining could make the campaign even stronger.

Updated as and when of course

submitted by LSB123 to Games
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