EA Downplays BioWare Employee’s Metacritic User Review Fiasco

Electronic Arts has brushed aside complaints that a developer from its studio BioWare had acted unethically in posting a user review disguised as a fan. Electronic arts downplayed a BioWare employee’s positive user review of Dragon Age II on Metacritic, saying that it was normal for "people who make games" to "vote for them."

The publisher said it sees no wrongdoing in studios “voting for their own game," comparing it to movie makers voting their film up for an Oscar.

"Of course the people who make the game vote for their own game," an EA spokesperson told 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."

BioWare forum goers and RPG players in general seem to disagree. Instead of the usual fanboy-ish user reviews that typically accompany an RPG series of this caliber, The Dragon Age II user reviews are best described as "angry." While fellow developers and the media might brush the whole affair aside as a "run of the mill event" that happens all the time, the community at large thinks it is highly unethical.

Source: Develop

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  1. 0
    sirdarkat says:

    Frankly I have no problem with his making a review … he has that right … no where does it say when making this review that he had to disclose who he works for or what he has worked on (or hell who he even is).

    On top of that it was a User review … maybe I could see an uproar if say he reviewed it for a major site as an actual editor under a pseudonym while being paid by the game company to do the review, but giving his own opinion in a User review … yeah those are grain of salt situation and usually one that doesn’t actually make me buy or not buy a game. (But then again if Im sketchy on buying a game I wait for a demo if none shows up then it gets put to the back of my mind until Steam has a sale).


    Disclaimer: I have not worked on DA II, I don’t work for a Game Company,  Wasting the time it takes to Track my user name down to the real person shows your creepiness and will lead you to nothing fun or interesting.

  2. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    Problem is, that same argument can also be raised against Media reviews. If a company is paying you X to advertise on your site, how easy is it to criticise their game? This has already been an issue once, and sadly I don’t see it going away soon.

  3. 0
    eston says:

    I personally don’t see what the big deal is. It’s not as though user reviews (which can be written by absolutely anyone) hold as much weight as media reviews. People act like this review was posted on IGN or Gamespot or something like that. The way I look at it (and always have) is that user reviews should be taken with a grain of salt because you have no idea who is on the other end of that review or what kind of bias they may possess.

  4. 0
    kurifu says:

    I highly doubt this is an FTC concern, he acted as an individual and was not supported nor represented Bioware when he made that post. The review is not marketing material, nor a part of Bioware’s business strategy. As an individual, whether he was a developer or not, he is entitled to his opinions by means of vote or review or interpretive dance (his/her choice). If you seriously think that his review unfairly skews the results of the review and makes it impossible for you to determine if you like the game or not when making a purchasing decision, you should probably be reminded that it is a user review which means the only way to be fair is by looking at all reviews as a whole (and perhaps you should consider a more reliable method of predicting the value of a game, like rolling dice or flipping a coin).

  5. 0
    HarmlessBunny says:

    Well won’t argue with you on the EA side… As for Bioware, unfortunately they are part of the EA family now. They risk stupidity by association. However their track record is a lot more positive than EA.


    James Fletcher, member of ECA Canada

  6. 0
    Mendror says:

    This is more in the lines of the President giving his own performance review then himself voting.


    I swear to god EA/Bioware are becoming mentally retarded.

    —- Rumblerumblerumber

  7. 0
    HarmlessBunny says:


    No matter any way you look at it…I am personally not angry or offended, but it appears rather questionable for a Bioware team member to post such a glowing review for his own project.


    James Fletcher, member of ECA Canada

  8. 0
    Thad says:

    I’d say it’s more a tempest in a teapot than a fiasco, but EA/BioWare’s sure gotten lots of negative publicity over DA2 as a whole.

    First of all: he shouldn’t have posted the review in the first place.  Responding to your critics is, in general, a bad idea; it’s unprofessional and thin-skinned.  Nobody likes seeing their hard work criticized.  But it’s going to be.  By a bunch of savage, semi-literate man-children who will insult your mother while they’re at it.  Welcome to the Internet.

    Second: Yes, given that he wrote it, he absolutely, 100%, should have disclosed that he worked on the game.  He didn’t, and that’s a mistake.  Hardly a "fiasco", but an embarrassment, and yes, potentially an FTC violation, though siccing the feds on BioWare over it would probably be a bit of an overreaction.

    And third: more than anything it’s a demonstration that user reviews are easily gamed and, if 4chan’s in a tizzy about something, you can kiss the legitimacy of an average score goodbye.  I’m as unhappy about the DA2 DRM as the next guy, but I’m not going to go submit a bunch of 1/10 reviews on a game I’ve never played over it.  And I’m glad Witcher 2’s DRM-free (at least in the GOG version), but neither am I going to give it a 10/10 sight unseen.

  9. 0
    DorthLous says:

    Yes. That is called ethic. You are a professional in an industry, you usually have an ethic code. And, as was said above, this goes against the FTC’s rules.

  10. 0
    vellocet says:

    I think a lot of people are missing the point that this was the User Reviews section of the site.

    Just because he worked on the game, he should follow different rules than another reviewer who could post "worst game evar U R n00bz!"?

    ——- Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

  11. 0
    Chris Kimberley says:

    Actually, 2 lefts make a U-turn.  But I agree with your point that people who think his actions after shipping the game have anything to do with the game itself, and by extension would post negative reviews of it or choose not to buy it, are just being silly.

    As a developer I would never choose to review my game in a public forum other than to tell friends, "Ya it’s cool, you should check it out."  But really I don’t see this as different than any other fanboy posting a glowing "review" of a product.  And it can be hard to not be a little fanboyish towards something you put a lot of work into.

    Edit: Ninja’d about the two lefts….


    Chris Kimberley

  12. 0
    GrimCW says:

    in reality isn’t his posting a glowing review to troll the bad ones just as bad?

    all those that slammed him should first think of what they were doing as well, 2 wrongs folks 2 wrongs.. only 2 lefts make a right, 2 wrongs do not.

    theres also a very old one that goes "Don’t feed the trolls"

    by slamming the game repeatedly for his review, and/or without having played the game at all (as many have not done) all in all he was the only one amidst the crowd to have even  probably posted a proper opinion of the game in his eyes. Tis honestly why i ignore meta reviews anyways, most of’em on AAA games are troll posts either by total fantards praising the game, or slamming the sequel because its "differant" and therefore immedietly bad. or they’re a-holes just trying to diss it without ever having played a single moment, and only watched videos on youtube.

  13. 0
    airford says:

    Actually, I would question the precision of the review. Obviously he didn’t disclose the nature of his involvement, but I honestly believe that if you can’t find anything wrong it isn’t a review, it instead becomes a glowing testimonial.

    But then again that’s more of a personal gripe that I’ve levied on even a few professional reviews.

  14. 0
    Andrew S. Zaffron says:

    Not to mention the fact that the FTC’s guidelines on endorsements and testimonials (16 CFR 255.5) require express disclosure of any material connection between an endorser and a product or service endorsed.


    The failure to do so is an unfair trade practice in violation of section 5 of the FTC Act.

  15. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    I don’t think anyone’s questioning whether his review was an accurate reflection of his opinion or not.  What’s bothering people is that he didn’t disclose the fact that he worked on the game.


    Andrew Eisen

  16. 0
    Thomas P. says:

    Well, what if it was an honest opinion?  He may have well really enjoyed playing the game he had a part in creating.  There is nothing wrong with this.  I’m pretty sure if he would have thought differently he would have reviewed it differently.  User reviews are just that, user reviews.  If he’s played the game to completion, he has every right to express his opinion about his own work.

    People are overblowing the situation.

  17. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Except awards and elections don’t really compare to reviews.  Had this guy cast his vote for Dragon Age II in some kind of Gamer’s Choice award, that would have been fine.


    Andrew Eisen

  18. 0
    HarmlessBunny says:

    While it does look bad that their own staff review such glowing reviews, it is fair. He is absolutely right about academy awards and politics. This has happened before and shall happen again :)

    Though mind you, I finally got a new PC (never will buy a Dell again…grrr. POS didn’t last 3 yrs), and installed Dragon Age II. It is a fun, but simple/watered down game from the original. It is good in my book 😀


    James Fletcher, member of ECA Canada

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