BioWare Employee Busted in Dragon Age 2 Review Scandal - UPDATED

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Glaive_21842:

As for your stab on rsvp42, a developer who makes regular AAA games doesn't deserve this kind of idiotic backlash just because the made a game that is worse than usual. If anything, that is to be expected. Outliers happen, quality rises, quality sinks, etc. Seriously, it seems to be that people give this game a 3-4/10 only because they expected to be 9-10/10, like the only things that exist in their world is dog shit and ambrosia. Why can't this game simply be a filling steak and potatoes if you catch my drift? Hell, i think Bioware is fucking awesome if DragonAge II is actually the worst of their games to come out in a long while.

NOTE: I'm not actually pissed or anything...I'm just having fun ^_^

So true. That's all I'm saying. No, DA2 is not perfect, but if someone thinks that these bad reviews are all unbiased, balanced, fair reviews based on the quality of the game, they're deluding themselves. The backlash is clearly greater than the game deserves.

rsvp42:

danpascooch:
If you want my personal opinion the game is pretty broken, at the very front I could barely handle it on hard, but two hours later with a few more abilities I'm on Nightmare because hard is unbearably easy, what kind of difficulty curve is that? Also when I tell my companions to hold position because I want them positioned a certain way, when combat starts about 50% of the time the current action (under their portrait) flickers rapidly between two abilities (indicating an infinite loop) which is really an unforgivable glitch, what did they expect nobody would use that feature? These two major problems combined with the lack of auto-attack on consoles (which Bioware officially stated was a mistake, that option was supposed to be there) and the shamelessly recycled environments, really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

That glitch only happens for me when my characters aren't positioned well. Usually just moving them into range or giving a better line of sight has helped me. Also, I agree that difficulty jumps in crazy ways. There was one boss in the deep roads that required me to jump down to Normal, even though Hard has been just fine so far. It could have been an issue with my party makeup, but who knows.

I won't tell you this game is perfect. I realize it's not. But I skimmed Metacritic and saw a lot of 0 and 1 reviews, which is crazy. As I said, the game is at worst a 5, realistically, but more like a 7 from me because I actually like a lot of the changes, even if they don't all come together perfectly.

Your point about the 0 and 1 reviews bring me back to what I said before, I don't believe the score is valid as anything other than a basic comparison to it and other games, For example, I think this score makes it valid to say "This game is worse than ME2" but not "This game deserves a 4/10".

Smorlock:

uppitycracker:
what a coincidence. i swear, not 20 minutes ago, my buddy was linking me the metacritic site, talking about how it seemed like EA employees were throwing 10 reviews out there... man, what a crap game. so glad i didn't pay for it.

Except this sort of behaviour (while crap), doesn't mean the game is crap. The game is fine. This kind of stuff isn't. Make sure you are distributing your hate correctly.

i'm distributing it just fine. the behavior is right on par with the game itself IMO. i'm clearly not the only one that feels this way. but hey, if you enjoyed it, more power to you. i certainly didn't.

Zing:
Funny, almost as strange as giving DA2 it's only perfect score on metacritic.

edit: ahh someone beat me to it.

It's also amusing that in second place is XboxAchievments.org; the head editor on the site is a gigantic Bioware fanboy, to the point he had / has(?) a Mass Effect 2 forum logo...yeah, guess which game won or was nominated for "Game of the Year" in pretty much every category [including, somehow, best soundtrack] on that site...

Ok, maybe I'm missing something here, but I fail to see the problem. Sure he worked on producing the game, and his review is probably SUPER biased. Heck, he may not even think the game was that amazing, and just inserted a shameless plug for his and his companys creation. But...so what? Why is it a big deal that he wrote a review and did not state that he was on the team that made said game? I dunno about you other gamers, but I never buy/don't buy a game based solely on web site reviews. I'm honestly more surprised someone took the time to actually identify this guy's true identity.

BehattedWanderer:
(I said all this back here: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/jump/9.270688.10413272)

Goodness, are we ever touchy these days. The ability to assume that someone can act independently on two different fronts has died, somewhere. Should we now have to declare everything about ourselves when me make a relation, or statement? Will we have to pronounce our affiliations, and state whether we are individuals, or members of a company? Are we now to mention whether we're biased by former knowledge of all of their products or starting anew, with no experience with the matter at all?

We are allowed our opinions, still, are we not? And the idea that we must be fair in our dealings is one of simpleness--not everything requires us to take the stand that all things are level. We are encouraged to consider many positions, but of those options, we only choose one. As there are many, not everyone would see eye to eye. To assume that each choice is on a level field is insipid, at best. Some will be equal. Others will not.

What this leads to, in it's verbose and circumspectral way, is this: it's a fluff review. Everything had fluff reviews. Billy Mays made his fame on fluff reviews. If you, as the buyer or observer, are swayed by a fluff review, then you have not understood how a review works. A perfect score, without a thorough analysis or critique, is not a review. It's fluff.

With respect, you sound fairly young and intellectual. Adult professionals should declare conflicts of interest when operating in their field - this is a basic ethical requirement across business, journalism, and even game development. People who don't understand this IMO are lacking real world experience, education, or both.

Cheers

Colin

If he submitted a user review, I don't see what the issue is.

It's embarrassing, sure, and fairly pathetic. However, there's no demand for objectivity or accuracy in Metacritic user reviews. That's why they're 'user reviews' and not 'critic reviews'. Hypothetically speaking, everyone on a dev team could send user reviews for their game and it would still be acceptable.

"Scandal"? Really?

By the way more than one BW employee put up user reviews. At least one moderator who's name matched his metacritic user name exactly, as well as a female leader writer who wrote on their forums that meril was "so cute she wanted to nom on her head"(something along those lines), a 10/10 review on metacritic had the exact same line word for word.

Pretty sad, these people need to learn how to take constructive criticism and make a better game instead of these pathetic tactics.

kael013:
So let me get this straight: Average Joes write up 0-score reviews because they don't like how it's been "consolized" or whatever, that's fine. BioWare employees writing up reviews to counter the mud-slinging, however, is bad?

Agreed.

Besides, he is still allowed to write reviews anyways, anybody can sign up and do so.

danpascooch:

Sephychu:

danpascooch:

Didn't I just say that's not valid because all of these games are on Metacritic? They all deal with the same set of flaws so the playing field is level, the only difference is the game being reviewed.

It is valid though, and this is because of said flaw with Metacritic. You cannot possibly account for the sample of people that will get off their asses to score a game. It seems to me that this is more likely to be people who are angry that they've spent money on a game they don't like. Maybe that's a dim view of people, but I don't know.
The point I'm making is that low scores like 1 and 2 can be attributed to a game that is, for most intents and purposes, pretty damned good. The visuals are very nice, the gameplay is at the very least engaging, and the writing is not terrible.
Standards vary from person to person, and a person who feels angry at a company for being betrayed by them is likely to think more in hyperbole than a rational scoring system.

Anyway, I don't see these flaws that everyone is pointing out, I'm just saying you cannot possibly state that metacritic is a wide, fair sample.

You are absolutely right that people who are angry are more likely to get off their asses and review it, which begs the question, why are there more people angry with this game than other Bioware RPGs?

The playing field as far as Metacritic is concerned is equal, the game being reviewed is the only major change, if you want to get really technical even the weather outside on release day could have influenced the score, but we're not talking about a 0.5 point drop here, we're talking about a 9/10 for ME2 vs. a 4.2 for DA2

You see, I don't think the playing field is equal. I think that there are more factors than before.
If you consider, for example, this having happened before (to a lesser degree) with Mass Effect 2. Some people who didn't complain before might be more inclined to do so now.
Also, this game is a sequel to a game that was for all intents and purposes, quite like Baldur's Gate. That game is old. Lots of great childhood memories. So if you change that, you upset people. Not me, but some people. The Mass Effect/Mass Effect 2 rift didn't suffer from this problem.
So, I put it to you that, even though all of BioWare's games are subject to MetaCritic, they do not all reach the same fanbase, and this one in particular has a variety of reasons people might feel unhappy or betrayed at the changes, see?

maantren:
With respect, you sound fairly young and intellectual. Adult professionals should declare conflicts of interest when operating in their field - this is a basic ethical requirement across business, journalism, and even game development. People who don't understand this IMO are lacking real world experience, education, or both.

Cheers

Colin

With respect, your patronizing tone likely wont endear you to the folks at which it's directed.

danpascooch:

Irridium:

danpascooch:

Mass Effect 2 has a 9.0 user score on Metacritic, that score highlights all of its good points, and the reviews there are largely positive.

Are you saying the media doesn't freak when games get good scores, only when they get bad? Because that's not a problem with Metacritic, or with the scoring system, that's a problem with the reporters.

The media is giving Dragon Age 2 fantastic scores. Its the community thats freaking out and pointing to metacritic. What I'm saying is that I haven't seen anyone point to metacritic to point out that a game got great review scores, but bad user scores. Or at least done so in a way thats as big as them doing it to Dragon Age 2.

How is that really relevant to anything? That may be true (though I'm not sure if I agree) but how does the fact that people don't point to it make DA2's score somehow invalid?

The critics gave DA2 substantially lower scores than basically every other major Bioware RPG.

I'm not saying its invalid. I'm just wondering why everyone is pointing to Metacritic to prove DA2 is worse when they've just dismissed everything else about the site before all this.

rsvp42:

maantren:
With respect, you sound fairly young and intellectual. Adult professionals should declare conflicts of interest when operating in their field - this is a basic ethical requirement across business, journalism, and even game development. People who don't understand this IMO are lacking real world experience, education, or both.

Cheers

Colin

With respect, your patronizing tone likely wont endear you to the folks at which it's directed.

Not trying to be endearing. And these kids should get off my lawn...

This is shaping up to be the most contentious game of the year, and appropriately I'm conflicted on this. As a Bioware employee, its the guy's job to advertise and put positive spin on the game. However, I think he did it in the wrong place. If you want to get your product out there, put it on a Bioware blog, or give an interview or something. Don't call it a user review.

Maybe if he had actually written that review like someone who hangs out on the internet he wouldn't have been caught.

While the game is fun it is far from "flawlessly executed" it deserves praise to be sure but like ANY game it has plenty of flaws and I will use one of the things that bugged me most about the game as an example: All the caves, houses, underground caves have the exact same damn layout and atmosphere inside and you're not even able to fully explore them because of doors you can't interact with and it completely kills the immersion and it also implies a tremendous amount on laziness on Biowares part.

I liked the game, except the ending, which makes it 8 out of 10 for me. But otherwise I only have minor complaints. Achievements for dlc don't work, bonus items useless after first act, your sibling in the game, otherwise I don't really care about the normal complaints, dumbed down and inventory for companions, blah blah blah set it on nightmare. But the part about caves and houses being the same, I get that, really annoying.

As for the employee, not a smart move.

BloodSquirrel:

Timbydude:
Seriously, though, their PR for Dragon Age II has been an absolute nightmare. A vocal minority is non-stop bashing the game, that guy got banned from playing for saying that BioWare sold its soul to EA, and now this.

\

Maybe it's time to admit that the "minority" isn't so minor.

This isn't surprising, though. The entire DA II marketing campaign has been full of Bioware lying to people who had serious concerns about the game. We were told to just wait and see- there's a bunch of stuff we don't know yet! Then it turns out that, no, we were pretty much dead on with the whole 'dumbed-down' thing from day one.

The optimist in me hopes that Bioware will take this as a warning and put some actual effort into DAIII. The optimist in me is probably wrong.

The optimist in me hopes they forget a third part of this series and instead create a new IP set in a fantasy world less bland than this one.

My faith in BioWare as of late has been decreasing. My hopes for ME3 are being tapped with a chisel right now...please don't bring out the sledgehammer.

maantren:

BehattedWanderer:
(I said all this back here: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/jump/9.270688.10413272)

Goodness, are we ever touchy these days. The ability to assume that someone can act independently on two different fronts has died, somewhere. Should we now have to declare everything about ourselves when me make a relation, or statement? Will we have to pronounce our affiliations, and state whether we are individuals, or members of a company? Are we now to mention whether we're biased by former knowledge of all of their products or starting anew, with no experience with the matter at all?

We are allowed our opinions, still, are we not? And the idea that we must be fair in our dealings is one of simpleness--not everything requires us to take the stand that all things are level. We are encouraged to consider many positions, but of those options, we only choose one. As there are many, not everyone would see eye to eye. To assume that each choice is on a level field is insipid, at best. Some will be equal. Others will not.

What this leads to, in it's verbose and circumspectral way, is this: it's a fluff review. Everything had fluff reviews. Billy Mays made his fame on fluff reviews. If you, as the buyer or observer, are swayed by a fluff review, then you have not understood how a review works. A perfect score, without a thorough analysis or critique, is not a review. It's fluff.

With respect, you sound fairly young and intellectual. Adult professionals should declare conflicts of interest when operating in their field - this is a basic ethical requirement across business, journalism, and even game development. People who don't understand this IMO are lacking real world experience, education, or both.

Cheers

Colin

Not too young, but probably young enough to be considered young, so you have that on me. I'm an engineer, and admittedly, my conflicts of interest center more or less around supporting the project, and not publicly dismissing the suppliers or client. If I wanted people to see that there are those out there who would support the project, given an arbitrary review score, I would say that I am not above fluffing said score, without acknowledging my position on it. Yes, it has a lobbyist feel to it, but being a bit underhanded without being the most estimable in one's PR still gets the name out there. Should it come to light that I was the one who fluffed the review to draw attention, then I would admit as much--but would say that it was for the purposes of drawing more attention, which in today's climate, is how you get more people to try it and form their own opinion. It might be in that ethically gray area, but ethically gray is where most people sit. They're willing to see an underhanded trick, as long as it doesn't hurt them. That's how I feel on the matter, anyway.

danpascooch:

ZeroDotZero:
This just makes me, a genuine fan of the game, look like a Bioware employee.

I can't say I blame the guy though, you would want to try and do something positive to balance out the negativity towards something you worked on. The best intentions, right?

You don't blame the guy for committing fraud? Yeah I would want to do it, but there are plenty of people I want to punch in the face too, but I know I shouldn't do it

This isn't fraud, it is a man who likes the product he made. He never identified himself as someone other than a Bioware Employee in the review he left.

I find the whole issue irrelevant, considering the busloads of people who haven't even played the game giving it a 0/10 or 1/10.

kael013:
So let me get this straight: Average Joes write up 0-score reviews because they don't like how it's been "consolized" or whatever, that's fine. BioWare employees writing up reviews to counter the mud-slinging, however, is bad?

Yes, because they work for the company.

The guys writing the 0 score reviews are giving their opinion based on the what they think of the product itself. They have no real vested interest in taking the time other than to give their opinion, where the companies have a direct financial stake in how well a game is received. Positive reviews overall convincing people to buy the game.

Generally speaking the only time that a negative review of this sort would be contreversial would be if you could tie it to someone with a direct stake in the failure of the project. Say if Activision/Blizzard had just released an RPG of their own, and got caught trying to tank the metacritic scores of their competition in hopes of it attracting more people to buy their product.

The "Troll Factor" of people who report things negatively for the lulz doesn't matter much, because it's always present, and Trolls are always vastly outnumbered by people who want to give their opinions legitimatly.

The reason why this has become such a contreversy is because it's VERY rare to see a big and heavily promoted release like this tank out in the reviews so quickly, especially with such a huge gap between what the professional reviews and user reviews are saying (they usually wind up being within a point or so of each other).

The way things turned out with "Dragon Age 2" really stinks because before this contreversy people were noticing the score differances, and given "Dragon Age Rage" among the community itself it raises questions about the corruption of professional reviewers to rate it that high with all of the game's assorted problems. Bioware wanting to run damage control and pump up that rating makes a lot of sense under the circumstances because it was making them look bad on a lot of levels, and generating a lot of talk.

I'll be honest though, "Dragon Age 2" is getting the responses it has been getting not because it's been dumbed down and "consolized", but because it's been sloppy about it. There are TONS of console gamers that seem to be badmouthing it, so it's not some kind of PC gamer elite-ness.

I'm one of the only people that talks about it here (so far) but I'm hardly the only one who was going "WTF" when the game basically has you re-visiting the same locations again and again with new spawns, and the spawns are big groups of generic mobs that respawn in waves. When they even bother to have a spawn animation (as opposed to them just appearing unannounced) it involves somevery out of character elements like say thugs in a ghetto jumping off buildings like Ninjas, or sometimes just flat out falling out of the sky (OMG! It's raining knife wielding bums in Kirkwall!).

Complaints vary, but the point is that there is a LOT to complain about. There is a lot of stuff in this game that is just plain bad, no matter what format you play it on, and honestly you also have to wonder what any impartial, professional reviewer, who actually played this game would praise a game that has mindless waves of enemies that literally drop out of the sky. I mean seriously, the way how a lot of this stuff spawns and plays out seems like the kind of thing Obsidian would be apologizing for. This is like the "New Vegas" of Fantasy RPGs on a lot of levels, but it's not so much bugs, as much as a slapshod job in general. Obsidian at least builds these huge, epic worlds, "Dragon Age 2" is re-using the same areas as a painfully obvious way of having to do less game development. Not to mention the very limited companion options, above and beyond the much-complainted about issues about armor, why does a Thief have to drag a law-and order guardsman about since there is only one tank, or a Templar have to use a fanatically pro-mage healer since there is only one? This leads to a lot of whining from your companions no matter what you do, and it annoys nearly everyone. Above and beyond the game design, that's just flat out sloppy design, that apparently was not thought through. I shouldn't have to be annoyed just to build a balanced party.

PR disaster? Come one, it's EA, they have made disasters way worst than this.
This is just a mishap at best.

I don't think that this was really the most mature way to handle the immature turds on metacritic bombing their game, but can you blame them? They took a chance, made something DIFFERENT and, honestly, an improvement in a vast number of ways, and they get destroyed by people acting like petulant children, simply because they decided to make something other than Origins 1.5. And you know what? If bioware did make that, then they'd still be getting whined at. There's no pleasing the pc master race.

And seriously, i'm in love with DA2. The combat is great (let's face it, origins combat was a slog and a half) and the story is amazimg, it's different: instead of being the usual bioware formula, it's about a personal journey about how you come to be awesome (compare this to mass effect, where shepard is pre-awesome). But hey, noones forcing anyone to love the game, so let's all shut the hell up.

Trolling? Hardly. People are just unsatisfied with the current gaming circles and are now lashing it all up on to DA2 and Bioware.

All this over a pointless number that is worth absolutely nothing when it comes to deciding if a game is good or not. Truly pathetic. This is why review scores and sites like Metacritic shouldn't exist. Just write REAL reviews and leave off the nonsense numbers and people can get a real feel for if the game is for them. All numbers do is lead to nonsense like this and people whining on forums that site A gave the game an 8.9 when it deserved a 9.0, as if there was a fucking difference anyway.

InevitableFate:
I'd be surprised if just about every other developer and publisher out there haven't done this at one point or another. Probably before realising how pointless it is since Metacritic reviews aren't exactly reliable as people tend to rate a game 0 for the slightest flaw.

Well said. Although it doesn't stop it being unbelievably stupid, especially considering the flak they have received for Dragon Age 2 so far. They are going to need to do a lot of ass kicking to get back in peoples favour at the moment.

Not so much me at the moment as I am really enjoying it for the most part (except a damn companion quest bug I have at the moment), but they really need to work on polishing their games more.

Popido:
Trolling? Hardly. People are just unsatisfied with the current gaming circles and are now lashing it all up on to DA2 and Bioware.

True enough, but it is still rather childish.

DA2 is great advertising.

After I played it I realized how much I like Neverwinter Nights and went back to that.

If someone could render NWN1 in one of these newer engines I'd be in heaven :P.

It's not a terrible game, but my enthusiasm for it plummeted fairly fast.

I'm sad because I imagine their star wars game will be much the same. "OH MAN THIS LOOKS GREAT...and...well...it plays ok...and sounds alright...and the loading isn't too slow...and I guess I could keep going till this 30 day subscription is up...or maybe another week."

There we go, spent my monthly allowance of elipses in one post.

Therumancer:

kael013:
So let me get this straight: Average Joes write up 0-score reviews because they don't like how it's been "consolized" or whatever, that's fine. BioWare employees writing up reviews to counter the mud-slinging, however, is bad?

Yes, because they work for the company.

*snipped cuz that's a long response*

OK, fair enough.
I've played through the game and the only problems I had with it were the thugs constantly attacking, the sometimes wooden dialogue delivery, and the fact that most enemies exploded on death. However, I still agree with you, it was sloppily done, but what did you expect from a game with a rushed development time? (that's not an excuse for BioWare's sake). I also hadn't been following the PR on this game that much, so it looked like the "Troll Factor" was the only factor in play, thus I saw no problem with this guy acting independently and giving a positive fluff review to counter the negative fluff reviews.

As I have said before. I do not see the issue in a single user review.

honestly i don't see a problem in this back on the old YouTube page were we had stars people would ask for 5 stars all the time this is almost the same...tho i would probably rate it 8 with the only downer for the game being the same dungeons/cellars/caves...all in all i don't think its a ''PR disaster that people don't quickly forget.'' now on the other hand the mess bobby kotick does that is a PR disaster

Hmnn manipulation attempts end in failure for a perfect metric score well thats good news for me since i hate DA2 anyway.

ZeroDotZero:
This just makes me, a genuine fan of the game, look like a Bioware employee.

I can't say I blame the guy though, you would want to try and do something positive to balance out the negativity towards something you worked on. The best intentions, right?

Yeah, no kidding. Not to mention that half the negative reviews were done well before they could've possibly finished or even played DA2 (speaking of fraud...). The Bioware guys were idiots. Unfortunately, the internet is full of people that make them look like freaking geniuses. Color me apathetic.

Brother of Alpharius:

Knight Templar:
As I have said before. I do not see the issue in a single user review.

It's not actually just a single review. There's been several Bioware employees who have written 10/10 reviews on Metacritic, it's just that Avanost is getting more attention because of /v/.

That makes it highly inappropriate but still not a big issue.

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