EA plays down BioWare stealth-review fiasco

EA plays down BioWare stealth-review fiasco

By Rob Crossley

March 16th 2011 at 10:47AM

'Of course the people who make games vote for them,' says red-faced publisher

Electronic Arts has responded to complaints that its studio BioWare has acted unethically in posting user reviews disguised as a fan.

The publisher said it sees no wrongdoing in studios “voting for their own game”.

This week a developer from BioWare was caught publishing a glowing user review for the studio’s latest release, Dragon Age II.

The game, which has a Metacritic score of 80 from professional game critics, was given a glowing review by user Avanost, who wrote: “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.”

An investigation into the matter revealed that the Avanost’s real name is Chris Hoban, an applications engineer at BioWare.

EA has been widely criticised for the measure.

“This is a matter of ethics and integrity,” read a message from ‘GatoFiasco’, who first spotted BioWare’s review.

“A consumer requires objective information in order to make an informed decision about purchasing a product.”

The practice of developers self-reviewing, promoting and praising their games is common. The success of a product is often tied to the livelihood of its creators.

Publicly, EA is standing behind Hoban’s actions, though the review has been taken down.

A spokesperson for the company told Kotaku; “Of course the people who make the game vote for their own game. 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."

Hundreds of fans are now artificially lowing the score of the game in Metacritic's user-review section.