BioWare Employees Write Reviews; Gets Caught

What's worse: a gaming site giving a cruddy, just-released title a favorable review based on gifts and donations by publishers, or an employee of the game's developer secretly posing as a mere consumer and writing perfect-ten review?

Unfortunately, both scenarios are prime examples of how the gaming industry unsuspectingly slithers into your wallet.

While we've heard all about the former scenario of reviewers putting on a positive spin thanks to publisher promises, threats, gifts and whatnot, the latter scenario—developers posing as consumers and writing prefect reviews-- popped up over the last few days. The game in question is Dragon Age 2, published by EA and developed by BioWare.

According to a keen eye spilling the beans on Reddit, the game received a perfect 10/10 non-press review by Metacritic user Avanost. "The immersion and combat of this game are unmatched! A truly moving and fun epic," the review reads, offering up no indication of the author's true identity. "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."

This was also the only review written by this specific Metacritic user. Ever.

As Reddit user GatoFiasco pointed out, the review was "almost like a press release," dripping with promotional slogans aimed to sell potential buyers with the idea that they can't live without this game. Suspicious, GatoFiasco researched author Avanost and discovered him to be an employee of BioWare who was directly involved with the development of Dragon Age 2. Avanost's real identity is Chris Hoban, an applications engineer from BioWare.

But that wasn't the only "planted" review. "Forget about the trolls / haters," reads the brief user review from LupoTheeButcher. "This is a very immersive game and a great entertainment product. You won't be disappointed. [Fast paced] combat, great companions and engaging story line." This is supposedly written by Dragon Age Project Manager Benoit Houle who goes by the same alias on the BioWare forums.

To make the entire situation even more sketchy, an EA representative seemingly waved off any concerns that BioWare employees were artificially inflating the overall Dragon Age 2 review score. In fact, EA's comment was rather alarming. "Of course the people who make the game vote for their own game," the EA rep supposedly stated to Kotaku. "That's how it works in the Oscars, that's how it works in the Grammy's and why I'm betting that Barack Obama voted for himself in the last election."

Say what?

Granted that two, paragraph-long reviews won't change the overall score of Dragon Age 2 when all is said and done, it's a "matter of ethics and integrity" as Reddit user GatoFiasco stated in his original complaint. "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."

Well said.

Gamers would be surprised by the great lengths at which publishers and developers will go to in promoting their products as the next holy grail while discrediting anyone who speaks in a negative light. That, unfortunately, is a story for another day...

  • mosu
  • kcorp2003
    thats how every Call of Duty games are like. Since CoD:W@W
  • belltollsforthee
    i would like to read this article saved for another day. Please show some light on what can only be showed to us through some great investigative journalism!
    thanks Parrish
  • Sabiancym
    They know they made a crappy dumbed down game and are trying very hard to put a positive spin on it.

    Dragon Age Origins was an amazing game that was a throwback to classic in depth RPG gaming.

    Dragon Age 2 is a console action game designed for the lower common denominator in gamers. It's a game for 12 year old casual gamers.
  • nisallik
    It will be ok BioWare, I'm upset at the cesspool of user reviews giving the lowest rating possible. I have your back giving and giving you the max rating at different sites to at least try to make the average score more realistic.

    Yes, I am a BioWare Fanboi.
  • americanherosandwich
    Dragon Age 2 is the best game ever made, period. If you don't own it, you'll have missed out on what millions of others have enjoyed.

    EA, please make the check payable to...
  • nisallik
    SabiancymDragon Age 2 is a console action game designed for the lower common denominator in gamers. It's a game for 12 year old casual gamers.
    ... I would love to see a 12 year old try Dragon Age 2 on Nightmare. Origins is a cakewalk in comparrison and would be considered "designed for the lower common denominator" if judging tactics and difficulty to Dragon Age 2.
  • PudgyChicken
    Fix the title, it should be GET not GETS. GETS is used for singular nouns, GET is used for plural nouns.
  • Sabiancym
    You fanboys amaze me. What could you possibly gain by defending this game? Every time someone posts something negative about this game, there are a group of Bioware fanbous that swoop in and claim the person's opinions are wrong and that the game is sheer perfection.

    What could you possibly gain from this other than more shallow unfinished games released?

    Fanboism does nothing by stagnate game development. The user reviews are in, and this game is bad. No matter how much damage control you do, it won't change that. Let the hate flow and we'll all be rewarded with better games.
  • ern88
    Ah yeah. Dragon Age 2 is right up there with Call Of Duty: Black Ops. It has excellent graphics and game play is top notch. 5 out of 5 middle fingers

    -Game Shister magazine

    LOL, who would have ever though that there were crooked people in the game industry. I though they were all Saints.