A handful of game publishers are withholding royalty fees from developers if their games don't achieve a sufficiently high review score.
The MTV Multiplayer blog reported these findings in the course of examining gaming review practices. Staffer Stephen Totilo said his inquiry began when one developer he spoke with told him that his company missed out on royalties for a game that sold more than one million copies because of its Metacritic score.
"Former GameSpot reviewers Jeff Gerstmann (Giant Bomb) and Alex Navarro said they've not only heard of this practice but even know developers that were caught up in it," Totilo's blog noted.
"That's something that really troubles me... When I'm sitting down to write a review I'm never setting out to think: 'I am taking food off this guy's table,'" Gerstmann was quoted as saying.
Gerstmann and Navarro said the practice was not widespread today, but was considered "avant-garde" three or four years ago.
Totilo also spoke to Silicon Knights president Denis Dyack and Insomniac Games president Ted Price, who said they were aware of the phenomenon but said developer-publisher relationships should be based on trust.