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View Full Version : News of the day for Wed, Oct 19: Manipulating Review Scores?


fastNcurious
10-19-2011, 04:51 AM
So apparently before sending out review copies of BF3 to the media in Norway, EA sent a survey to gauge how much the potential reviewer of the game liked BFBC2, what score they gave for BFBC2, etc. EA received flak for trying to manipulate the review scores, and then publicly apologized for this "mistake."

Article pasted below. Direct link here (http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/10/19/ea-norway-caught-attempting-to-manipulate-bf3-review-scores-calls-it-a-mistake/).

On a related note, how do people feel about the recent practice of embargoes on reviews until a game releases? Does it affect your decision to buy the game? Before buying games on day one, do you do more personal research on your own now than before (when reviews were released earlier)?

---------------

EA Norway caught attempting to manipulate BF3 review scores, calls it “a mistake”

Nathan Grayson at 12:51am October 19 2011

Lies. Backstabbing. Explosions. Highly targeted surveys. EA’s apparent attempt to pull the strings on Norwegian Battlefield 3 reviews only has one of those things, but boy is it sketchy. Sure, the survey’s first question – a simple request for contact info – is about as cut-and-dry as can be, but sharper probes like “Is [your reviewer] a fan of Call of Duty?” and “Has he expressed enthusiasm for Battlefield 3?” make a mad dash toward eyebrow-raising territory. Reviewers, understandably, aren’t pleased.



According to Gameranx (http://www.gameranx.com/updates/id/3354/article/ea-caught-attempting-to-manipulate-battlefield-3-scores-in-norwegian-press/), the questionnaire found its way into the mailboxes of Press Fire/Dagbladet, Gamer.no, and Gamereactor in response to requests for review copies of the massively anticipated shooter. It asks the following questions:


Did the reviewer personally review BFBC2 or Black Ops?
What score did he give it?
What is his past experience with Battlefield?
Is he a fan of Battlefield?
Is he a fan of Call of Duty?
Has he been playing BF Franchise? BFBC2? 1943? BF2?
Has he expressed enthusiasm or concern for BF3? What are they?
Did he play the beta? Did he enjoy it / get frustrated with it?
What is his present view on the game?

Yeah.


In response to an upsurge of outcry from sites like NRK (http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nrk.no%2Fkultur-og-underholdning%2F1.7838789), EA Norway marketing manager Oliver Sveen released a statement.


“It is a human error that was sent out,” he said to Pressfire.no (http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&ie=UTF8&prev=_t&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=auto&tl=en&twu=1&u=http://www.pressfire.no/nyheter/PC/4119/NRK-boikotter-Battlefield-3&usg=ALkJrhjKPxgjS7fzLC3uWuY1NEfhWyvRDQ). “We have made a mistake and we apologize. It is not something that should have happened earlier or [that] we intend to continue.”


Which, obviously, rings about as hollow as a pistol round pinging off a freaking tank. Maybe it was “human error,” but there’s no denying it or the circumstances under which it happened. I’ve attempted to reach EA’s US branch and DICE for comment. As of publishing, they’ve yet to respond.

M49907
10-19-2011, 05:23 AM
It is less alarming to me than it might be to others. I really don't think EA is trying to manipulate the scores because they think the game is going to be bad/worse than MW3. EA is just trying to look out for their investment, and that is what BF3 is to them. I can't blame them. Reviews don't reflect the overall state of the game as a normal player would expierence it anyways, the reviewer just flies through the single player campaign on easy. I have always taken reviews with a grain of salt, but this is just another reason for that.

Cooljoe
10-19-2011, 05:28 AM
I think it is important to gauge what we think of a certain game. It could help to make the guys who gets paid- their reviews more honest by the time they're completed.

rekikire
10-19-2011, 06:46 AM
News of the Day... Water is wet!!!!

Publicity people have been manipulating reviewers forever. This has always been the case, and will always be the case.

Grey Delta
10-19-2011, 07:30 AM
Most reviewers give biased personal reviews when most of the time the consumer wants a professional write up on the games features etc. unaffected by some guys personal opinions.

He might not like FPS and give it a bad score. Who relies solely on reviews anyway though?

ChuckPalahniuk
10-19-2011, 12:30 PM
Gamespot also said they were sending out the final copy and they would receive it pretty much release day.

makes you wonder

littlejay
10-19-2011, 12:59 PM
just looks like a list of questions. i dont really see anything about manipulating scores.
of course the internet needs something to complain about now that the beta was 6 week old code and the physical warfare pack is free to everyone <_<

Grey Delta
10-19-2011, 01:38 PM
and the physical warfare pack is free to everyone <_<

Wasn't this always the case? I thought it was always a timed exclusive.

CGPsaint
10-19-2011, 02:39 PM
I think that it's pretty lame that EA would decide who to send preview copies to based on a questionnaire such as the one shown in the first post, but honestly it's no real big surprise if they are trying to manipulate the review scores. Odds are Activision is doing the same, but they are being a bit slicker about it.

Tatanko
10-19-2011, 02:59 PM
I think that it's pretty lame that EA would decide who to send preview copies to based on a questionnaire such as the one shown in the first post, but honestly it's no real big surprise if they are trying to manipulate the review scores. Odds are Activision is doing the same, but they are being a bit slicker about it.
This more or less sums up my thoughts about it. This news, even if it holds 100% true, makes absolutely no difference to me. The night of Oct. 24th, I will be standing in line to get my copy, and I will play the shit out of it. The end.

littlejay
10-19-2011, 03:01 PM
Wasn't this always the case? I thought it was always a timed exclusive.

it was gamestop exclusive but redit or w/e that site is cried. a lot. said it would make those people have an unfair advantage. dice caved and made it a timed exclusive to shut people up.

they said well over a month before people cried that it would not unbalance the game (and dice is pretty good about that) but nobody read the faq i guess.

CGPsaint
10-19-2011, 03:34 PM
This more or less sums up my thoughts about it. This news, even if it holds 100% true, makes absolutely no difference to me. The night of Oct. 24th, I will be standing in line to get my copy, and I will play the shit out of it. The end.

I plan on getting my copy and assuming the servers don't shit a brick, I will be playing nonstop until I hit Rank 10. Then I will eat something unhealthy, take a piss, and then repeat until I hit Rank 20. Tuesday is going to be a loooooooonnnnnnggggggg day.

it was gamestop exclusive but redit or w/e that site is cried. a lot. said it would make those people have an unfair advantage. dice caved and made it a timed exclusive to shut people up.

they said well over a month before people cried that it would not unbalance the game (and dice is pretty good about that) but nobody read the faq i guess.

The should have served up a healthy dish of "shut the fuck up" instead. It was paid DLC. If people wanted it so badly then they should have ponied up the money and got in on it. Maybe I'll whine to my bank and see if they'll let me skip a few mortgage payments...

Opiate42
10-19-2011, 03:34 PM
just looks like a list of questions. i dont really see anything about manipulating scores.
of course the internet needs something to complain about now that the beta was 6 week old code and the physical warfare pack is free to everyone <_<

Well, it can be easily construed as such, because it is. A list of questions to gauge opinion of previously released similar games and opinion of the obvious direct competitor? What do you think they would do with those survey results? This is the "PR vs. Reviewers" version of market research.

Thinking: Well if that person expressed a lower opinion or is more inclined to like COD we'll just not send them a copy to review or have to make them like us more before they review...

Avoiding certain reviewers or changing tactics to improve opinions of those who are more likely to give a poor review is manipulation, they're looking to stack the deck in their favour rather than letting the quality of the game speak for itself.

Bad form EA Norway, bad form.

CGPsaint
10-19-2011, 03:36 PM
Well, it can be easily construed as such. A list of questions to gauge opinion of previously released similar games in a series...."well if that person expressed a lower opinion or is more inclined to like COD we'll just not send them a copy to review."

Avoiding people who are more likely to give a poor review is manipulation, they're looking to stack the deck in their favour rather than letting the quality of the game speak for itself.

Bad form EA Norway, bad form.

Nintendo has been pulling shit like this for a long time as well. I remember when the Nintendo DS first came out and they sent out free Nintendo DS consoles to reviewers as a way of "saying thanks..." Yeah right. That shit was a bribe, clear as day.

EA's reviews policy also brought this wonderful strip to mind courtesy of the gentlemen over at www.penny-arcade.com

http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/239585618_Mrrqw-L-2.jpg

littlejay
10-19-2011, 03:40 PM
DICE seems pretty confident that the game is the best that they can do. I don't see them passing up a chance to get it to everyone. Worrying over review scores sounds like the exact opposite of what they have been saying all along.

Instead of "we made a great game" it's "are you going to like it?". I just don't see it. It's someone outside of DICE that was trying to pull something or really a mistake. an odd mistake to say the least :p

CGPsaint
10-19-2011, 03:48 PM
DICE seems pretty confident that the game is the best that they can do. I don't see them passing up a chance to get it to everyone. Worrying over review scores sounds like the exact opposite of what they have been saying all along.

Instead of "we made a great game" it's "are you going to like it?". I just don't see it. It's someone outside of DICE that was trying to pull something or really a mistake. an odd mistake to say the least :p

You'll notice that EA is the one being held accountable for the review scandal. DICE is probably pretty confident with their work, but EA is more concerned with the sales numbers than the game quality.

Opiate42
10-19-2011, 03:51 PM
Nintendo has been pulling shit like this for a long time as well. I remember when the Nintendo DS first came out and they sent out free Nintendo DS consoles to reviewers as a way of "saying thanks..." Yeah right. That shit was a bribe, clear as day.

EA's reviews policy also brought this wonderful strip to mind courtesy of the gentlemen over at www.penny-arcade.com (http://www.penny-arcade.com)

http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/239585618_Mrrqw-L-2.jpg

That's awesome! I'd forgotten about that strip. Hilarious, and ...sadly true.

I can only imagine DICE's people must have let out a groan of dismay when they heard about it themselves. You don't pump your soul into a work of art to have some corporate asshat sideswipe it with idiocy.

CGPsaint
10-19-2011, 04:00 PM
That's awesome! I'd forgotten about that strip. Hilarious, and ...sadly true.

I can only imagine DICE's people must have let out a groan of dismay when they heard about it themselves. You don't pump your soul into a work of art to have some corporate asshat sideswipe it with idiocy.

Isn't that the truth.

One of the things that I love about Penny Arcade is that they are willing to point out and discuss all of the dark inner workings of the video game industry and they are merciless. They just recently started a new site called The Trenches which is a comic about being in the industry, and also includes a brief news feed every Tuesday and Thursday which is a short story from people who have suffered... I mean worked in the games industry. Definitely check it out!

Suiken
10-19-2011, 05:11 PM
This isn't as bad as Activision lavishing gifts, trips, drinks, etc onto reviewers before they reviewed Black Ops, but its still proof that reviews should be taken with a grain of salt.

Basically, don't look at the score, actually read the review.

CGPsaint
10-19-2011, 05:18 PM
This isn't as bad as Activision lavishing gifts, trips, drinks, etc onto reviewers before they reviewed Black Ops, but its still proof that reviews should be taken with a grain of salt.

Basically, don't look at the score, actually read the review.

Pshh. Even reading the review doesn't always get the truth across. I try to read as many reviews as possible, but honestly I find forums to be the best bet because you can actually ask questions and discuss the game before dropping $60 on it.

Suiken
10-19-2011, 06:20 PM
Pshh. Even reading the review doesn't always get the truth across. I try to read as many reviews as possible, but honestly I find forums to be the best bet because you can actually ask questions and discuss the game before dropping $60 on it.

I agree, but I know you are astute enough to sort the crap from the honesty.

CGPsaint
10-19-2011, 06:25 PM
I agree, but I know you are astute enough to sort the crap from the honesty.

For the most part, yes. Every now and then I get overwhelmed by the glitzy marketing. Shit, that's how I ended up getting married...

ZingZitang
10-19-2011, 08:04 PM
Publicity people have been manipulating reviewers forever. This has always been the case, and will always be the case.
This. This is True of Everything in Society. Not Just Video Games.

How else do you think modern warfare 2 received such high Review Scores?

For the most part, yes. Every now and then I get overwhelmed by the glitzy marketing. Shit, that's how I ended up getting married...And this. Lol. Besides being a Huge Money Vacuum, Married life isn't really that bad though is it?

CGPsaint
10-19-2011, 08:32 PM
And this. Lol. Besides being a Huge Money Vacuum, Married life isn't really that bad though is it?

My marriage was a HUG MONEY VACUUM, that much is for certain. As far as being good or bad, it cost me $15,000+ (not even taking into account the house I bought) to marry her, and $85 to divorce her. Turns out she was hardly faithful. I'm not sure who said it, but the following is golden.

"The best revenge for a man stealing your wife, is to let him keep her."

Poppygalaxy
10-19-2011, 08:54 PM
Stupid move obviously. Even though i don't really care it's just bad publicity for EA. And as it stands now. not everybody is a EA lova :p

Not me either.

Nitnoid
10-19-2011, 11:54 PM
I really don't see much of a problem here. From the looks of it, they are trying to gauge whether or not the reviewer actually plays shooters, and what brands. Personally, I'd rather have a reviewer who likes a compelling fps than someone who enjoys a good platformer. Just need to get an idea of where the review is coming from is all.

CGPsaint
10-20-2011, 12:50 AM
I really don't see much of a problem here. From the looks of it, they are trying to gauge whether or not the reviewer actually plays shooters, and what brands. Personally, I'd rather have a reviewer who likes a compelling fps than someone who enjoys a good platformer. Just need to get an idea of where the review is coming from is all.

That may be true, or maybe they are trying gauge if the reviewer is going to give BF3 or MW3 a more favorable score.

GaryYEAH
10-20-2011, 01:46 AM
Pardon my ignorance, but there's something that I just don't understand:

Judging by the way the article (and the flood of others pertaining to the same topic) is written, it appears as though review copies of the game have only just been sent out to reviewers worldwide. This is where I'm stuck, because surely the critics would need longer than a couple of days to play the game, write the review (including proof reading and such) and have it published in magazines, etc., right? I'm an independent gaming journalist myself, and I like to take time with my reviews - though I don't like to keep my readers waiting - for the sheer fact that I want it to be as close-to what's in my mind as possible. I guess my questions are thus:

Do reviewers worldwide really have such a small amount of time to review the game or does this only apply to Norway in this situation for whatever reason?

Are other reviewers (outside of Norway) also going through this questionnaire process, or is it simply because of Norway's past lukewarm reviews of the Battlefield series?

Thanks!

xx

CGPsaint
10-20-2011, 02:00 AM
Pardon my ignorance, but there's something that I just don't understand:

Judging by the way the article (and the flood of others pertaining to the same topic) is written, it appears as though review copies of the game have only just been sent out to reviewers worldwide. This is where I'm stuck, because surely the critics would need longer than a couple of days to play the game, write the review (including proof reading and such) and have it published in magazines, etc., right? I'm an independent gaming journalist myself, and I like to take time with my reviews - though I don't like to keep my readers waiting - for the sheer fact that I want it to be as close-to what's in my mind as possible. I guess my questions are thus:

Do reviewers worldwide really have such a small amount of time to review the game or does this only apply to Norway in this situation for whatever reason?

Are other reviewers (outside of Norway) also going through this questionnaire process, or is it simply because of Norway's past lukewarm reviews of the Battlefield series?

Thanks!

xx

A lot of times reviewers don't even get a copy of the game. They get invited to the developer's office for hands on time, often times getting very limited bits and pieces of the game that they then have to somehow put together a review for.

GaryYEAH
10-20-2011, 02:05 AM
A lot of times reviewers don't even get a copy of the game. They get invited to the developer's office for hands on time, often times getting very limited bits and pieces of the game that they then have to somehow put together a review for.

Oh shit... that's really interesting, man. It's pretty scary too - they probably get pampered beyond belief with merchandise and whatever. Urgh, that's grim...

But is it only these Norwegian websites that are suffering or has the problem stretched across the globe?

Thanks for your help!

xx

CGPsaint
10-20-2011, 02:08 AM
I was a store manager for EB Games for over 3 years and the various game developers were always sending us games and other fun swag, most likely out of the goodness of their hearts. Or maybe to sway our opinion and get us to push their games at the register.

M49907
10-20-2011, 03:53 AM
I was a store manager for EB Games for over 3 years and the various game developers were always sending us games and other fun swag, most likely out of the goodness of their hearts. Or maybe to sway our opinion and get us to push their games at the register.

Lucky! Its all about marketing guys.

MediumMelanin
10-20-2011, 03:56 AM
Well, I sure as hell wouldn't want a COD-only lovin' fanboy reviewer reviewing my games, which he hates or "dislikes", giving me a bad rep/score and 'causing lower sales.

Reviews are good for seeing the pros and cons, gameplay, story and whatnot. If it sounds good, then I'll get it, if it's a sequel to a great game I got before, I'll get it without a doubt. Doesn't matter if one site scores it a 8 or a 10 or whatever.

Nitnoid
10-20-2011, 08:16 AM
Sometimes reviews are posted prior to the games release. Reviews for Batman Arkham City, for example, were posted almost a week prior to the game being available to the general public. If they are sending out media copies this late, chances are the reviews might be coming later as well.

CGPsaint
10-20-2011, 02:03 PM
Lucky! Its all about marketing guys.

You bet it is! I remember a Manager's Conference that I attended in Las Vegas and you wouldn't believe the insane amount of money that was tossed around to impress us. I left that conference with just about every hit game coming out that 4th quarter and several years worth of Xbox Live Subscriptions.