Conduit Studio Accused of Amazonbombing Conduit Reviewer - UPDATED

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Andy Chalk:

Baneat:
If it's the Escapist's stance not to condone star/score reviewing why do the reviews on this site have an x/5 star rating at the end (Written ones, not Yahtzee's)?

I said "playing games with the review scores," by which I mean pressuring sites to inflate scores, having employees post glowing reviews on Metacritic, that sort of thing. I detest numerical scores but accept that we're stuck with them because nobody wants to bother actually reading and thinking anymore, but I have no patience at all for gaming them to squeeze a few extra percentage points here and there.

I've no idea how that would pertain to the statement I quoted originally, but, if that's what you meant, then fair enough.

IMO, it wasn't really saying "Give it a good review" but more or less saying "Please give it a review." I'm sure he hopes they like it and that they give it a positive review, but it doesn't say that once in it and I would kind of like to think that he just wants his staff to look at it and maybe write a review for it to give it some activity on amazon.

The PR surrounding this game has been atrocious. From SEGA building up the hype, to High Voltage "apologizing" that the game is so good, to poor reactions to critical reviews, just everything surrounding this game and its community stinks. It's really all quite backwards.

I think High Voltage did what they could with a dead platform unsuited to the genre. That is just my opinion. I don't condone bombing someones book for giving you a bad rap as it seems rather vindictive, but hey, nothing really says that just because someone reviewed your product you can't review theirs. I'd just hope they gave it a fair review, if they hated it, they hated it, it doesn't have to be personal slander. Then again, how many reviews are fair, I know plenty of fans (or upset fans) are happy to give something a five or one star rating rarely ever ranking something they care about personally in the middle. Point in case = Every metacritic user score ever.

So, I guess that sending letters to review sites saying that the game was going to be "too awesome" didn't really work, then.

A game developer that can't use Print Screen? Now THAT'S unprofessional.

Azaraxzealot:
has anyone noticed the recent upswing in developers getting mad about reviews? it seems to be taking over the industry these days. the gamers and the ones making the games are starting to form a rift...

hey, JUST LIKE THE MOVIE INDUSTRY!

looks like gaming IS going the way of movies after all! with critics that hate their products more and more and are getting less tolerant

There is a massive feeling of entitlement within the games industry. Remember these are the same people who feel that second hand sales are the same as piracy or that if their game didn't sell a million copies it's because the buying public are either stupid or pirates. Nothing is ever their fault.

xXDeMoNiCXx:

buy teh haloz:
Hey, not his fault that Conduit 2 sucked! Are they really so butthurt about a number that they have to make his numbers look infinitely worse? Why not put out quality games instead of trying to over-compensate for something? Sorry your TMI sucks ass, High Voltage (Cookie for the reference!), but there IS such a thing called admittance. At least admit that you made a sub-par FPS game and all will be forgiven.

I love how you're so quick to bash High Voltage when I don't see you doing any better than they did. You're no better than either of them if you're just gonna talk smack. Your opinion doesn't equal truth.

THIS IS A FORUM OPINION DOESNT HAVE TO EQUAL TRUTH THATS WHY ITS AN OPINION THATS ON A FORUM.My opinion does equal truth however because i am a caps lock warrior. also whats with bashing someone for talking smack? thats a ridiculous mind set to have and if we all had it progress would never be made

The state of the games industry is just plain sad of late...

thedeathscythe:
IMO, it wasn't really saying "Give it a good review" but more or less saying "Please give it a review." I'm sure he hopes they like it and that they give it a positive review, but it doesn't say that once in it and I would kind of like to think that he just wants his staff to look at it and maybe write a review for it to give it some activity on amazon.

More like "As you know, this guy abolutely bombed us with a review, he wrote this, so let's go give *him* a "review" *wink wink*"

mogamer:

Azaraxzealot:
has anyone noticed the recent upswing in developers getting mad about reviews? it seems to be taking over the industry these days. the gamers and the ones making the games are starting to form a rift...

hey, JUST LIKE THE MOVIE INDUSTRY!

looks like gaming IS going the way of movies after all! with critics that hate their products more and more and are getting less tolerant

There is a massive feeling of entitlement within the games industry. Remember these are the same people who feel that second hand sales are the same as piracy or that if their game didn't sell a million copies it's because the buying public are either stupid or pirates. Nothing is ever their fault.

i think if you were making the games you'd probably see things differently, i know i did when i first started :P

Andy Chalk:
Conduit Studio Accused of Amazonbombing Conduit Reviewer - UPDATED

In fairness, it seems that these folks felt like the reviewer was using his review to plug his own stuff. That could mean that the review of Conduit 2 wasn't being given from a fair perspective, but rather from someone with a clear agenda of his own.

Sometimes reviewers have them, you know. Sometimes it's about downing on one product for the purposes of shedding a good light on another, more self-serving product. Sometimes it's just trying to make news, realizing that negative reviews are more "fun" and "attention-grabbing" than positive or lukewarm reviews. Tell me you don't read some movie reviews and think, "This guy was just looking for an excuse to use that particular jab and look clever."

I'm not saying that's what happened, and I'm certainly not saying the review was wrong. What I'm saying is that reviewers can be just as guilty of shady dealings as developers, but we tend to cut them slack because they have individual names and faces. Immaturity met with immaturity excuses no one, but that's just the point--it excuses no one.

Hey, they're just trying to be like Bioware. Everyone said it was okay when Bioware did it.

So, has anyone here played the game and read the book? Do both s*ck, are OK, or is one actually better?

To all conspiracy theorists... do you think this is actually the bad reviews of the book are an effort of staging self-promotion on the writer's part?

I've only played conduit 1 and I found it disappointing, the relatively older metroid prime 3 had much better motion controls (not to mention story).

OT: I lol'ed when I saw that 'things people viewing this item also viewed' for the book includes conduit 2

While that backlash from High Voltage is of course unbelievable, to be fair the review is one of the poorest excuses for a review I've seen in a long time. It's trashtalking for the sake of trashtalking, and to be honest it didn't inform me in the slightest about the game.

Weren't these the same guys that sent the Escapist a letter apologizing for how awesome their game is?

They had the right idea with an apology, but the wrong reason.

So it's professional to be unprofessional in defending your profession?

This is pretty reprehensible behaviour from High Voltage. I'd say I weren't going to buy any of their games in future, but... I wasn't planning to to begin with. So my threat is pretty empty.

Bioware writes user reviews for their own games on Metacritic and writes negative reviews for much better games from their competitors.

It really isn't surprising to see other developers join in on the shit flinging.

It's actually quite funny to see people getting so up in arms about reviews and scores lately. Makes for great reading material and might finally show case these scoring methods as innately flawed.

WHen you are wrong about something man up and admit it not beat around the bush.

The review was horrible and I think high voltage has the right to be angry.

go read the review, it's stupid

Why bother for a Wii game? (Kidding, now put that Banhammer away).

Perhaps they should play the game through one more time and see if the reviewer was actually being truthful.

I wanted to know how good it really was that this guy felt so in the right to trash our game and give away the ending like he did. And then post a plug to his book at the end, implying that we suck and he is totally great.

Did this guy drop out of school? What kind of adult thinks and speaks that simplistically? I haven't thought or spoken about the people around me in that kind of tone since middle school.

Not only is that wording passive-aggressive, but it's this impaired sort of passive-aggressive you'd expect from an autistic person with very bad role models.

I love how they're trying so hard to twist their way out of it. He obviously was not trying to get the staff to give fair and objective reviews of the book. After all, how on earth could they review the book without first buying and reading it? This is just plain childish.

That guy does sound like a dick, though.

I actually am reminded of an episode of Jimquisition that was not posted on the Escapist (an eaarlier work of his) where he talked about this kind of thing. As a reviewer he would be given guidelines along with the game he was given, telling him how to play the game, what words to use to describe it, and what score they thought it was worth and he admits that he was hounded by some companies after ignoring their guidelines, including calls to his work, and attempts to get his house number.

I realise it is frustrating and horrible to put so much work into a project that you know every inch of, and then be told by someone else that it is useless and doesn't work. But you should take into account what they say, learn from the mistakes you made, and move on, implementing them better in your next game, not cry and lash out at the reviewer.

Andy Chalk:
Everybody has an opinion, but what makes this an incredibly dodgy situation is that just before the reviews went up, according to Marooners' Rock, High Voltage Creative Director Matt Corso sent out an email to at least one department at the studio regarding Murdock's review and his book. "Michael was kind enough to recently provide us with a Conduit 2 review," Corso wrote. "And so in turn you should all feel at liberty to (of course read it first) and then return the favor by writing a reader review for Michael's book for him." A link to the book on Amazon and an image of the cover is also included.

Well, I guess this explains the lousy writing and mediocre story: the team behind The Conduit were a bunch of babies.

Andy Chalk:
This is obviously not the most epic Amazonbombing ever seen and given the tiny number of reviews I don't think it's going to have much impact on Murdock's livelihood; on the other hand, four bad reviews out of ten represents a significant percentage and was enough to drag the average score from five stars down to 3.5. But the real concern here is the alleged behavior of High Voltage in response to a bad review. If true, this is shockingly unprofessional and greasy as hell; it's not a response or even a public challenge to the reviewer's opinions, it's a childish tantrum and a direct and very personal attack on the reviewer. Playing games with review scores is one thing and certainly not to be condoned [despite how apparently common the practice is] but going after reviewers like this is just gutless and low. It also leads to some potentially unpleasant questions about whether or not anything like this has ever happened before - and whether it might start happening more in the future.

Couldn't agree more. The Conduit has gotten average reviews at best, and plenty of other people have panned it. At least Murdock played the game and left reasons for his judgment. If you make a lousy game, and it gets a lousy review, the professional thing to do isn't sabotaging the success of the reviewer's own work without actually doing the legwork he had to do in the review.

This strikes me as Corso having seen how Bioware fans Amazonbombed that woman who was on Fox a few years back after the whole Mass Effect whatsit. The only difference was that Fox was boldfacedly lying about what they were talking about, unlike Murdock, and Bioware is actually popular, unlike High Voltage.

Andy Chalk:
UPDATE NUMBER TWO: Eric Nofsinger of High Voltage responded to our inquiries and acknowledged that Corso did in fact write the email in question. He also said, however, that "four negative Amazon reviews does not constitute any sort of retaliation/Amazonbombing," and noted that Corso encouraged people to read the book and then review it, rather than just hammer on it blindly. Furthermore, he said that Corso wasn't responsible for any of the Amazon reviews himself and "absolutely was not the first person to suggest something like this."

"Sure, it's a tad unprofessional but if you knew Matt personally as I do, you would know it was nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek jibe at most," Nosfinger said. "And for that, I apologize on behalf of High Voltage Software."

So in other words, he's saying it's not a big deal because not much came of it? When has that ever been a valid argument? There's a reason why "attempted murder" is a serious crime, even if you didn't actually succeed in killing anyone. Same for "conspiracy to commit (blank)."

Wait, "not the first person to suggest something like this"? Oh, wonderful. He just confirmed that the rest of the team is just as petty and immature as Corso.

Andy Chalk:
"When this 'news' flared up this morning, I informed Matt about what was going on," he continued. "He apologized and went on to say, 'My mind really wasn't in that dark of a place when I wrote that. In fact I seriously considered buying the book myself. I wanted to know how good it really was that this guy felt so in the right to trash our game and give away the ending like he did. And then post a plug to his book at the end, implying that we suck and he is totally great. Then I forgot about it, and got busy with other stuff. But I can see why some people might try to read more into this. But I did mention that people should read the book before giving a review.'"

Hang on a second. Because in his signature it mentioned his book, he must have been rubbing his writing prowess in your faces? It could only have been a personal insult directed specifically at you?

Jesus. Narcissism much, Corso?

Andy Chalk:
Regardless of Corso's original intent, I know that if my boss suggested, wholly sincerely or otherwise, that I "review" the work of someone who had just publicly demolished something I'd poured my heart and soul into, I'd be mighty inclined to cut loose on it. That probably says more about me than it does about my boss but people who work under any kind of spotlight have to be aware of the potential consequences of shooting from the hip, especially when it comes to the internet. This kind of thing gets around in a hurry, and the internet doesn't forget.

Oh, boo-hoo, you worked hard on something that wasn't very good. Guess what: it happens. Your most favorable reviews regarded it as an average shooter by Wii standards. What's worse is that you seem to think this is somehow getting even with Murdock. It's not. You're only making yourself look like an idiot. And judging by the explanations you've given for your actions, that's a pretty accurate image.

Andy Chalk:
Two more negative reader reviews have since disappeared from The Dragon Ruby's Amazon page, by the way, and I wouldn't be surprised if the last one left goes away soon too.

Oh, man, that's too much. So not only did the dev team make themselves look like immature twats, but they singlehandedly proved that their fanbase couldn't turn out four lousy Amazonbomb reviews without backing down on three of them.

Andy Chalk:
The same reviewer also gave last year's Alpha Protocol a five-star score, however, calling it "an RPG masterpiece," so maybe he or she just has really bad taste.

But, Alpha Protocol is an RPG masterpiece.

I don't think Andy Chalk understands what he is saying. He is obviously confused. It is very hard for me to describe my feelings for him without breaking 7 separate forum rules.

The dude was advertising and obviously has the poor sales writing complex.
What's so bad about that other then exploiting a wii game to advertise?
Really,there needs to be an amazon nuke for this guy.

Psycho Cat Industries:
The dude was advertising and obviously has the poor sales writing complex.
What's so bad about that other then exploiting a wii game to advertise?
Really,there needs to be an amazon nuke for this guy.

Rhetorical questions: you do realize that bylines essentially serve the purpose of telling people something about a writer, and where to check out more of their work, right (see also the "About the Author" page of any modern novel)? That it's actually standard industry practice? And that having a tiny-fonted byline at the end of a review that badmouths a game does not constitute a plug (or "exploiting a wii game to advertise" as you call it)*? Or do you think that Yahtzee and most of the people who contribute columns to the weekly issues of the Escapist need to be 'amazon nuked,' too? Geez, Yahtzee sure exploited a lot of games to promote Mogworld, didn't he?

*An actual plug would be if the critic took the time in the review to stop talking about "The Conduit 2" and started talking about his book and how wonderful it was, but he never does that. Leave it to the head of High Voltage to mix up the concept, though, and try to use it to justify his behavior.

I don't see why people are comparing it to that Bioware incident though, I think that Bioware developer was in his right to do that (even if it was a bit cheap and he made it biased, but how can it be biased, it's still opinion!)

I like how he says it's "a tad unprofessional" so dismissively. It's okay, it was just a LITTLE election fraud, guys. It was just a COUPLE bullets. And oh yeah, he only rated your game down a FEW points. Four, really - that's not all that many, is it?

I read the review, and I watched the trailer. Looks like the game got all the smacking it justly deserved. The voice acting sounded terrible, and the graphics weren't that good, either. The actor voice acting the villain sounded very... strange, and the main character's armor looked like Master Chief from Halo as interpreted by the same guys who did the original TRON.

But, you know, it's ONE review. Wigging out and passively-aggressively telling your employees to go take out their rage on the author of the review's published work is unprofessional indeed (and make no mistake, that wording was extremely passive-aggressive) and "a tad unprofessional" just doesn't cut it as a description.

Captcha: eonsub edition: Yeah, I get my Escapist news in the E on sub edition

Dastardly:

Andy Chalk:
Conduit Studio Accused of Amazonbombing Conduit Reviewer - UPDATED

In fairness, it seems that these folks felt like the reviewer was using his review to plug his own stuff. That could mean that the review of Conduit 2 wasn't being given from a fair perspective, but rather from someone with a clear agenda of his own.

Sometimes reviewers have them, you know. Sometimes it's about downing on one product for the purposes of shedding a good light on another, more self-serving product. Sometimes it's just trying to make news, realizing that negative reviews are more "fun" and "attention-grabbing" than positive or lukewarm reviews. Tell me you don't read some movie reviews and think, "This guy was just looking for an excuse to use that particular jab and look clever."

I'm not saying that's what happened, and I'm certainly not saying the review was wrong. What I'm saying is that reviewers can be just as guilty of shady dealings as developers, but we tend to cut them slack because they have individual names and faces. Immaturity met with immaturity excuses no one, but that's just the point--it excuses no one.

This.

It's all particularly shady when one considers two things:

- The review was published on Joystiq. C'mon, you can't be serious. IT'S FRIGGIN' JOYSTIQ. They're not in the major league of gaming sites, they know it, and attention-grabbing drivel has become their motto quite a while ago.
- Conduit 2 is actually a vast improvement over the first. Of course, it still doesn't compare to other FPS out there, but considering the platform and what they have to work with, it's a good game. If I had to recommend one FPS on the Wii, it would still be GoldenEye 007, but the next choice would be Conduit 2.

The game is also very tongue-in-cheek in its narrative and general feel, and because of that it's guaranteed to piss off FPS enthusiasts who play such games to satisfy a soldier fantasy. If there's something I feel High Voltage was naive about, it's the fact that they seem not to acknowledge it. The game was doomed to receive at least a couple abismally low scores just for (1) being a hardcore Wii game at this point in time, and (2) being a tongue-in-cheek FPS released at the height of the Call of Duty era. Even Bulletstorm caught some flack from (2) despite its overall quality. Why not Conduit 2?

lol they mad...

but admittedly, I'd probably take it a bit personally too if I were in their shoes. not that I condone any sort of unprofessional behavior that a game company employee might make or anything lol

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