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Dragon Age II Metacritic Scandal


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#31 FriskyTanuki

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 08:13 PM

It's not about what someone has the right to do. It's about the usefulness of the user review average. Can I be somewhat confident that it represents the honest views of gamers like me? Not if I have no idea how many of those scores may have been planted by the company that wants me to buy the game.

What about all of the reviews by people that gave it a 0 to protest the changes they made to the way the original played?

#32 Professor Oreo

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 08:15 PM

It's now very clear to me that many people have no idea what ethics are. This is a non-story.

Dude posts a user review wherein he hypes his own product. And? Did he swindle anyone out of money? Did he somehow singlehandedly blow the curve and sway the overall review score? Did he force anyone to buy the product who would not have purchased it without his influence?

So all other review scores by random assholes who you know absolutely nothing about and who may have ties to companies or personal axes grind are okay, but his review is an unholy abomination because you now know that he has ties to the product? Anyone see the problem here?

ALL review scores are suspect. They are people's opinions and should hold absolutely no value above that. That dude's involvement in the project may have swayed his opinion but he's still entitled to express his opinion and is not obligated at all to tell you how he came to that opinion. Metacritic isn't some legal document. It's a fucking internet forum. Anyone spends any legitamate energy on this "scandal" truly has far too much time on their hands.

#33 Jodou

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 08:15 PM

It's not about what someone has the right to do. It's about the usefulness of the user review average. Can I be somewhat confident that it represents the honest views of gamers like me? Not if I have no idea how many of those scores may have been planted by the company that wants me to buy the game.

Reviews are only useful in a sense that they set expectations. The idea of a finite number defining a game is pure fantasy.

#34 Ryuukishi

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 08:19 PM

What about all of the reviews by people that gave it a 0 to protest the changes they made to the way the original played?

Their opinions may be idiotic, but at least they are who they're purporting to be. :lol:

I mean really, this is like a faith healer who calls up a planted audience member. The plant may genuinely think that the guy is all that, but does that make the whole thing any less suspect?

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#35 dmaul1114

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 08:20 PM

It's lame to shill your own work, but it happens all the time on review sites, so this is nothing new.

You have to take reviews on sites like those with a grain of salt. I just go there to look at the individual scores from major review sources.

User reviews I couldn't give a crap less about as there's too much bias there with fanboys trashing everything from rival companies etc.

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#36 bigdaddybruce44

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 08:23 PM

As others have already said, user reviews are extremely biased and useless to begin with. DA2 has a bunch of 0's already. 0, folks. How does a game even get a 0? I would have to think the only way to deserve a 0 is if I put the game into the console, and it explodes. User reviews and scores are a joke, so I really don't see the problem with this guy posting a review. It certainly isn't unethical, and it's definitely not a scandal.

#37 FriskyTanuki

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 08:30 PM

Their opinions may be idiotic, but at least they are who they're purporting to be. :lol:

Except that it's messing with the usefulness of the average review score since that you were talking about. They're just hijacking the system to make a point in a way that hurts the average reader.

#38 Ryuukishi

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 08:36 PM

Except that it's messing with the usefulness of the average review score since that you were talking about. They're just hijacking the system to make a point in a way that hurts the average reader.

I don't disagree with that. Just different ways of looking at it I guess-- maybe different "levels" of being invalid? :) I would rather see an exaggerated negative review that is at least based on something that an actual consumer genuinely hated about the game, than a fawning review that may or may not be genuine at all.

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#39 randall82

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 09:15 PM

But we are talking about user reviews, the Bioware employee is still a user and has just as much right to give a review as you do. He does not have to disclose anything.


He might not have to, but I think it's unethical for him not to disclose that he's obviously biased. No one is saying you can't comment on your own work or be proud of your accomplishments, but not disclosing that you had a part in making it, to me, is shady.

#40 ihadFG

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 09:31 PM

How does a game even get a 0? I would have to think the only way to deserve a 0 is if I put the game into the console, and it explodes.


:lol: I love that.


I don't disagree with that. Just different ways of looking at it I guess-- maybe different "levels" of being invalid? :) I would rather see an exaggerated negative review that is at least based on something that an actual consumer genuinely hated about the game, than a fawning review that may or may not be genuine at all.


I actually don't doubt that the Bioware employee was genuine in thinking the game is great. The review was based on his opinion of the game. He is also biased though, so that is where the issue comes in. But this is also a user review section, which is full of trolls and fanboys and just general idiots in the first place. I think a slightly biased review from a dev is still more honest and useful than a review from a random dude on the internet who didn't even play through the game and gave it a 0 because everyone is saying it is different from DA1.

#41 dmaul1114

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 09:47 PM

I think a slightly biased review from a dev is still more honest and useful than a review from a random dude on the internet who didn't even play through the game and gave it a 0 because everyone is saying it is different from DA1.


Exactly. Opinions are fairly useless in general, but there's no more useless opinion than those posted by users on the internet.

Fanboy bias, people being more prone to bitch when they dislike something or have problems than to take the time to praise something they enjoy etc.

So I just don't see the big deal. At the end of the day the only opinion that matters is your own, and if you want to use reviews it's best to look at the average among professional reviewers to get a sense of whether a game/movie/etc. is worth checking out on your own than the stupid user ratings that are full of bias. Professional reviews can be as well, but they're (when there are several of the anyway) at least a bit more believable to be at least somewhat objective than the user reviews that have no accountable mechanisms at all. At least professional reviewers can be fired if they're found being too biased.

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#42 FriskyTanuki

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 09:49 PM

I actually don't doubt that the Bioware employee was genuine in thinking the game is great. The review was based on his opinion of the game. He is also biased though, so that is where the issue comes in. But this is also a user review section, which is full of trolls and fanboys and just general idiots in the first place. I think a slightly biased review from a dev is still more honest and useful than a review from a random dude on the internet who didn't even play through the game and gave it a 0 because everyone is saying it is different from DA1.

This is still a step up from the user review system that they had before where you didn't even need an account to write up a review, which lead to every system exclusive game getting really low scores by trolling fanboys.

#43 ihadFG

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 09:58 PM

This is still a step up from the user review system that they had before where you didn't even need an account to write up a review, which lead to every system exclusive game getting really low scores by trolling fanboys.


A step up sure. But it's still not anywhere near relevant. Dragon Age 2 has a user average of 3-4 across all three platforms. Apparently people are still willing to make an account so they can give the game a 0.

#44 kainzero

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 10:03 PM

I don't think the FTC regulates user reviews nor do they seem to have much presence in video game blogs since that's the only thing I've seen about the ruling.

It's probably because a company or consumer won't get much if it goes after a video game blogger on a review. =)

Restaurants and other businesses that rely on repeat business, getting a bad review on a blog could be killer. And plus you have Yelp acting Mafia-like spotlighting negative reviews if that certain business doesn't want to pay ad money...

And anyway, professional video game reviews are a joke anyway, haha.
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#45 msdmoney

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 12:21 AM

It really isn't that he wrote the review that bothers me. While unethical, that can be explained away. It's the fact that this is viewed as "business as usual", and this one just happened to get caught. We might not look at reviews as something to take seriously, but sadly, the industry does. People's livelihoods are tied to a number. It effects whether studios get work or not, what studios get shutdown, and more importantly, it effects the bonuses and job security of the PR department of the publisher.

When score is king, nothing else matters. That's why embargoes are allowed to be broken early if a certain score is met. It's why certain publications get review copies while others don't. Objectivity is lost when PR Reps are under so much pressure to control the discussion that they resort to unethical behaviors to change public perception. If we want to hold up game journalism as something to be taken seriously, we have to realize that such unethical behavior is an attack to its cornerstone, objectivity.


Except game reviews are inherently subjective.

He might not have to, but I think it's unethical for him not to disclose that he's obviously biased. No one is saying you can't comment on your own work or be proud of your accomplishments, but not disclosing that you had a part in making it, to me, is shady.


Every reviewer comes in with a certain set of biases coming into a review. We are just talking about different levels of bias.

#46 ihadFG

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 12:28 AM

Except game reviews are inherently subjective.


I think he just meant lack of bias and favoritism though (in regards to websites and companies). Or at least that's how I took it. Either way, you could replace "objectivity" with professionalism, and his points are still valid.

#47 FriskyTanuki

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 12:54 AM

A step up sure. But it's still not anywhere near relevant. Dragon Age 2 has a user average of 3-4 across all three platforms. Apparently people are still willing to make an account so they can give the game a 0.

I never said it was relevant, just that they acknowledged the issues and have moved to something that at least makes it harder to just submit reviews anonymously to mess with the scores.

I don't know what they could do to legitimize the user reviews, as you'd probably have to require all user reviews to be submitted in writing to cut out the random 10/0 scores and require some sort of approval process where the community would have to approve the reviews to a certain degree that would allow it to show up to the public and count in the average user score.