BioWare Employee Busted in Dragon Age 2 Review Scandal - UPDATED

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Oh, the horror of it. Are people really surprised that things like this happen? I'll say it once again: the internet enables people to post anonymously, thus leading to behaviour that is often -in fact, usually- at odds with "normal", real-world behaviour. Worse things are happening at sea.

Ps's also just one person who did that, so I don't see the point of blowing this out of proportions :/

Brother of Alpharius:

Knight Templar:

Brother of Alpharius:

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.

It is a bit of a big issue when Bioware tries to cover it up, along with deleting threads and banning users on their forums which/who mention the issue.

Well that is a big issue.

Bah, that score bombing has been going on for ages. /v/ decided it hated this game (pre-release) for whatever reason.

Oh well.

Sure, it's unethical to throw out 10's without disclosure. Like the story says, it really could be his opinion. But why bomb the reviews online? Does it really make the game bad?

And honestly, who bases their purchasing decisions on metacritic user scores? Every game has a handful of great scores and a handful of "I hated it" scores. It's like movies or anything else....without a frame of reference of what this person is like and likes, a number doesn't mean jacks--t.

That 2 for the new game? Written by someone who only picked up gaming beyond the yearly Madden. That perfect 10? Fan of the series. Does that mean they know you will like it? No, you dummy. There is a reason why demo's are increasing in number. Gamefly rentals anyone?

Sure, I read reviews too. But only from sites and reviewers I've agreed with. Cause if their reviews have accurately reflected my views of the game beyond a number score, then I'm likely to agree with them.

Well, since we all enjoy our DA2-stories with a conspiracy-twist as of late, let me convice you it was all a plan. You see, my theory is that this reddit user is in on it. How have I reached this conclusion, you ask? Well, let me explain:

1. This reddit user is clearly insane.
Or, as I suspect, part of this elaborate, multifaceted scandal! You see, most people would at the sighting of this so-called objective review assume it's some overenthusiastic fan of Dragon age 2 who's desperately trying to make the Metacritic-score better, and lessen the impact of the other raging, non-biased Metacritic-reviewers.
This individual, however, probably taking time off from solving the JFK-assassination, immediately gets suspicious of this review, assuming it to be something far sinister, and decides to go further down the rabbit hole for no other reason. He googles the user, assuming him to having conflict-of-interest, based on nothing but the overzealous review.

2. The Bioware Engineer used his normal username for the review.
Now, this is the second part. This Bioware-engineer is clearly not the sharpest tool in the box. Or, as I suspect, part of this elaborate, multifaceted scandal! Because if you're going to try and be nice to your boss and try and help his game's Metacritic score, at least take on a name that's somewhat untrackable for your review. Like ilovekittens8434 or something to that nature, so you won't be tracked. Instead, the bioware engineer chose this rather unique username, because he wanted to be found out!

Presumably, he and this reddit user dislike Bioware for some reason, could be personal and exciting reasons, like "Bioware, you killed my father! Prepare to die!" or boring, normal reasons like: "I hate my job and want to quit spectacularly."

So they both engineered this bastard scheme to defile Bioware's good name in the gaming community. Clearly, it's the only rational answer.

So, what did you think, if you bothered to read it? Was it OK for a kind of "I'm making fun of conspiracy theorists"-post? Was it too dull? Too long-winded? Bore me with your answers, please.

Also, on-topic: Hardly the first time any gaming company ever did something like this. Doesn't influence my feelings towards Bioware in the slightest.


Because one Metacritic user score really matters right? God forbid an employee likes a game from the company they work for. I don't consider this a big deal at all.

Seriously, you don't see anything wrong with a guy making a Metacritic account just to do the most shallow, stupid, PR-like review on a game he worked on? This was (given that this is was not a really smart troll attempt) the most blatantly obvious act of desperation I've seen in a long while. Have you ever heard of 'conflict of interests'? If you have, think for one minute before posting.

Not really. Like I said one Metacritic user review isn't going to make a whole lot of difference. I personally consider all the 0/10 reviews for the game because it's not exactly the same as Origins or the ones that were done in reaction to this PR thing even stupider and borderline childish. Then again those are user reviews too so they hold pretty much the same weight.


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.

So, I'll be starting with a nice shade of grey, then moving into more of a slate blue. From there we'll add touches of brown, and finish off with a lovely trim of black.

OT: Is there definite proof that this guy actually made this post, and it wasn't just a troll trying to make the company look bad? People apparently decided to hate the game before they even knew it from all the responses I've read here, so what's to stop someone from trying to throw an employee under the bus?

While it was a bit foolish to do, I am not getting my undies in a twist. I love how some people are all like "RAWR FRAUD, IMA BE ANGRY NOW". Whateves.........I dig the game, not going to QQ over a guy's dumb decision.

I don't see why this event is considered to be that big of a deal.

I just put up a thread to discuss this on the Bioware forums.
Within the hour Stanly Woo showed up and Locked it down.

Make of that what you will.

While I understand that Bioware shouldn't have pulled that, I find that our behavior isn't very becoming, either. I mean, are gamers really Amazon-bombing the game? Is the game really being condemned because of the company's stupid act rather than its own merits as a mediocre game?

EA's defense makes no sense. It is fine for employees to post their own reviews but they need to disclose their involvement in the game. As long as they're up front about their involvement I have no problems whatsoever with them posting reviews in places like Metacritic. (Unless Metacritic specifically forbids this, I don't know.)

There were more quotes from Bioware that the Update didn't include:

"Duh! So, we're asking you now, what are some of your favorite games that these warlock brains produced?"

"We are on a drug. It's called Bioware."

"Boom, crush. Night, losers. Winning, duh."

The reason they removed it was because sites like Thr Escapist are giving the reviews bad publicity, so people would think EA put them up to it when it was the employee's own opinions.

I just put up a thread to discuss this on the Bioware forums.
Within the hour Stanly Woo showed up and Locked it down.

Make of that what you will.

Stanley tends to lock duplicate threads. There will have almost certainly been several of them already. What exactly did he say?

Simply stupid, no other words that can explain it. BioWare have really been going downhill lately.

There were more quotes from Bioware that the Update didn't include:

"Duh! So, we're asking you now, what are some of your favorite games that these warlock brains produced?"

"We are on a drug. It's called Bioware."

"Boom, crush. Night, losers. Winning, duh."

This. is. beautiful. The funniest thing I have read all week (so far).

I find it a bit unfair to have a go at this guy for posting a bias review in favour of the game with a 10/10 when it's been blasted with 0-2/10 scores since before it was even released. The way I see it, he had a right to try and balance that out and even if he didn't, the same people yelling bias are the same ones who posted those low scores in the first place.

Hungry Donner:
EA's defense makes no sense. It is fine for employees to post their own reviews but they need to disclose their involvement in the game. As long as they're up front about their involvement I have no problems whatsoever with them posting reviews in places like Metacritic. (Unless Metacritic specifically forbids this, I don't know.)

Well, they got caught and EA is in a position where it's options are limited. It either has to take the approach it did, or it has to do something to punish the employees involved if it's going to say that what they did was okay (and that means firing them).

The quick reaction like EA makes me think that this was intentional, I've read other articles (some on The Escapist I believe) where there has been discussion about companies using their employees to pump up the ratings of their own products for promotional purposes via things like Amazon, and Metacritic.

It's a dishonest practice because you have the developers promoting the product in concealment, claiming to be satisfied customers, who allegedly started with an impartial opinion. Given that they make money off of this, it's a big deal. It's also sadly possible because there aren't any safeguards to prevent it, and it shouldn't be surprising that something as increasingly corrupt as the gaming industry is angling to do every dishonest thing it can to get ahead.

The thing with Metacritic is that it tries to be more reliable than other ranking systems by intentionally seperating the customer reviews, from professional reviews. I don't think they really considered "promotional spam" by game developers themselves to begin with, however it technically belongs in the "professional" catagory due to their financial stake, as opposed to user reviews which is only affected by what people think of the product. Even someone trolling tends to be a sign tht they find it worth the time to troll about.

At any rate, the specifics of this arguement are kind of pointless, the bottom line is that Bioware has had it's first major failure, and it was a titanic one. Overall this penny ante crap isn't going to have that much of an influance on the ratings overall. If users dislike the game that much, that means something, I mean even trolls have to be motivated. What's more when there is this kind of a discrepency with the professional reviews that's kind of
a sign of why sites like Metacritic seperate them from the user reviews.

Bioware's "promotional spamming" to alter records, especially this quickly and sloppily shows that they are kind of desperate. To be honest I just hope it means that they will learn from their mistakes here, and release better games as a result. They dumbed it down, and cut all kinds of corners as far as the number of areas, the companions, and all kinds of things, and put in this stupid "they fall from the sky" system of zerg rushing thugs. They are quite simply paying the price for releasing a sloppy game. It's probably worse for them because Bioware up until this point had an almost golden reputation. They probably got arrorgant in thinking that people would worship anything they produced with their name on it, and decided to ignore the signs they were seeing when they started changing development strategies with "Mass Effect 2".


Oh and one final note, I would hope that a professional game designer could come up with a better handle, even a temporary one than to steal from old sneaker commercials. "Lupotheebutcher" being from a series of Converse (I think) commercials where they would have some cartoon wierdo try and destroy a pair of the shoes and fail. I think they did two commercials in the series because they didn't seem to go over very well.

I mean come on, you'd expect someone in the creative industry to do better. Let me guess, he's one of the relatively new hires, right? Maybe that has something to do with how Dragon Age 2 turned out of if was involved rather than the guys making the original game. A fanboy of an obscure, failed shoe commercial series, involved in the development of a failed video game. Hmmmm.... coincidence?

Okay, okay, no need to pick on anyone. I'm actually just surprised I remember the source.

I find myself agreeing with EA on this one. Of course you're allowed to praise your own creation.
My feelings toward Bioware remain unchanged (i.e. borderline worship).
Also I think DA2 is a great game

If I helped produce a game and felt it was excellent, I'd sure as hell post perfect reviews all over the web. In DA2's case it helps reverse some of the ridiculous 0-2 review scores from butthurt PC elitists.

So why did he hide that he was an employee? It's bullshit

No-one gives a shit about Metacritic user reviews, though.

Why is this a big thing?

I don't see what the big deal is, just like the EA rep stated, people vote for their stuff all the time.

I'm also of the opinion that Dragon Age 2 is the best game Bioware has ever made as well.
There's 2 kinds of flawed games. Games with great content but flawed gameplay where you wish the content was compressed because the gameplay just isn't fun, and then theres the game with great gameplay and weaker content, where you enjoy every second of it and just want more and better content. Dragon Age 2 is the first Bioware game I would put in the second category. It's not as deep and rich as other Bioware games but it's much more fun to play.

Well, this whole uproar has revealed some interesting things about this website's community.

Get a sense of perspective. It's not illegal, it's a person who liked the game and gave it a good review. If the employee in question didn't work for BioWare, but was exactly the same, would it magically become a valid review? You know, a user-review? As in not professional, but a person's opinion?

The amount of anger this has caused is deeply disturbing.

Dick move Bioware Employee. Dick move.

Is this a big deal? IMO? No...AND yes.

To me it's kind of like letting your dog shit on someone's lawn. Dick move yes. Against the law yes. Big deal (as in, unforgivable sin). Not really. Doesn't really matter -THAT- much.

But now imagine the press catching Barack Obama letting a dog shit on someone's lawn (before his election). Dear God. You know you're in for a shitfest.

This is where Bioware finds itself in right now. A big pile of bat shit PR. And damn, this batshit is going to form a super-mutant-conglomeration with the DA2 backlash that's already there (horse shit). So now you have bat-horse shit and eh...yea sometimes it's not about right or wrong. It's about smart/lucky or stupid/damned. And right now, Bioware is getting nailed by something called reality. Either that, or just a whole pile of shit. Like, Dave Matthew's Band throwing a whole ton of shit on your boat kind of shit.

Yeouch... that was really stupid of him to do. Made it way too easy to get himself caught using similar user names. It could have been someone else, but... it appears not since the review was pulled and the person hasn't said anything about it. :s

If I helped produce a game and felt it was excellent, I'd sure as hell post perfect reviews all over the web. In DA2's case it helps reverse some of the ridiculous 0-2 review scores from butthurt PC elitists.

But that's dishonest, you have a financial stake in the game. Presenting yourself as a customer doesn't give people an accurate accounting of how users are receiving the product. I can understand why people do it (and why you might do it) but at the same time those who rely on the reviews, or who run the review sources have a vested interest in the integrity of it.

Those "butthurt PC elitists" are still customers who paid for the product, and if they feel the product is lacking have every right to express that opinion. If a company is concerned about this, then they probably shouldn't have been selling to that crowd to begin with.

The thing about metacritic is that it compiles all of the user reviews accross the spectrum for an overal viewpoint of what the people buying the game think of it. If a review is diving like that, it means that a LOT of people aren't liking the product. If it's just a few trolls or elitists it's not going to do that to the ratings.

Now, for people with money invested in the product this is a bad thing. They don't care if their product is a stinking turd, or people hate it, they want returns, no matter what they have to do to get them.

For people who are in the market for a game that are looking at the metacritic scores to see what other customers liked, they want to avoid spending their money on a turd no matter how much money someone might have invested in it.

Metacritic seperates their review scores for a reason, on one hand you have the professional reviewers, the guys who can be swayed by money. Buy enough advertising from the right guys and you'll get your 10/10 rating. That's for the companies (as cynical as it is). There might be honest professionals in there, but it's generally the guys who can be bought. On the other hand you have the customer reviews, which are supposed to be untarnished by invested money, but at the same time you wind up with the trolls and troublemakers.

The end result is that by looking at Metacritic you can get a pretty good idea of how a game is being received due to seeing both scores. It's rare to see something like this where there is a huge discrepency. It's not flatterng for EA/Bioware, but the basic message here is that EA invested a ton of money in this game and paid off their reviewers, but the actual users aren't liking the game. I think that's pretty fair from what I'm seeing in various game communities. Bioware failed this time, they made a sloppy game, that was badly put together. It has nothing to do with PC elitism, as ratings like this come from bad reviews accross the spectrum. In the end I think it's that the game is so sloppy with it reusing so many maps and resources, and the way how it handles the spawning of the enemies (jumping out of the air in waves), that a lot of people are going "wow, this is really junky, especially for Bioware" beyond any consideration of the skills, interface, or whatever. Also if you pay attention a lot of people are cheezed off about the companions, not the lack of customization (though there is that), but the simple fact that your pretty much forced to use specific characters to balance the party, and that means that for a lot of players who want to play in a paticular way they have to endure a lot of whining. For example if your a warrior/templar build and playing with those sensibilities, the only way to have healer in your party is to have a guy who is militantly pro-mage and who is going to freak out every time you take the Templar side instead of the mage side. If you want to avoid listening to that...well good luck without a healer. If your playing a thief guy who wants to be mercenary and work for the underworld, your only sword and shield tank option is going to be the same way since she's a City Guard (and early on becomes the HEAD of the city guard), bribe someone, try and cajole payment (or more payment), or take quests that are illicit and you either have to listen to her bellyache and gripe at you... or experience the annoyance of playing without a dedicated tank.

Trust me, it's not PC elitism, they really made some horrible desicians with this game, a lot of the problems are NOT the ones people were talking about before the game came out. All of those issues are there, and perfectly valid causes for concern and debate, but right now the sheer sloppy game design has people on all sides of that camp upset. It's "dragon age rage" because it's not a minority of upset people, it's a situation where the only defenders are the more fanatical fanboys who would defend the game from anything. That's why the user ranking has plummeted so far.

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.

edit to clarify: yes, i have played the game, no i am not basing my judgement of the game solely on the actions illustrated in this article.

Yep me too.

Andy Chalk:
UPDATE: Electronic Arts has apparently decided to balls it out with a statement to Kotaku that actually defends the review as no big deal. "Of course the people who make the game vote for their own game," a senior PR manager said. "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."

Dont forget Nobel.

I'm a judo coach, and I will always support the ones I train. In a match, they will always be in the right, and the judge will be in the wrong. If he judges against us.'

Point is, of course they are defending themself. Why shouldn't they be allowed to? If an author gave his book a good review would we care about it then?

Ooooh, busted!!!

Maybe this is BioWare trying to counter those several million 3/10 user review scores....

Why counter what the general pubic think about your product? How about they return to what made DAO successful instead of defending their BS? LOL dude.

Whatever they screwed up no biggy. I still love Bioware. Gonna get DA2 no matter what. One bad game, and a employee's lack of foresight isn't going to ruin the great reputation they have built up, for me. I grew up on Bioware games. I plan on growing old with them as well.

I'm more annoyed by the fact that the review is so badly written. Couldn't he give some proper argument why the game is so good? Probably not... It's a dumbed down review!

Wow EA, that is the greatest public statement ever. You get mucho respect from me for being so ballsy, bravo.

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