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Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting

GameSpot reports on some shenanigans on the Jurassic Park: The Game Metacritic Page, where they spotted what they cleverly call "telltale signs" that Telltale employees submitted user reviews giving the recently released movie tie-in perfect 10/10 scores. GameSpot, no stranger to review controversy, explains what aroused their suspicions: "Between the reviewers' constant lionizing of Telltale Games, complete sentences, proper punctuation, and paucity of spelling errors, we began to suspect that the user reviews were not the product of actual players, but of Telltale representatives. Sure enough, a cursory Google search on the reviewers' user names backed up our suspicions. One of the reviewers was a user interface artist at Telltale; another was a cinematic artist. According to their LinkedIn profiles, both were relatively new to the studio, but they should have more than enough experience in the industry to understand this was a bad idea."

This recalls a controversy earlier this year when a BioWare employee submitted a positive user review for Dragon Age II, and GameSpot received the following explanation from Telltale on their policy in matters like this: "Telltale Games do not censor or muzzle its employees in what they post on the internet. However, it is being communicated internally that anyone who posts in an industry forum will acknowledge that they are a Telltale employee. In this instance, two people who were proud of the game they worked on, posted positively on Metacritic under recognizable online forum and XBLA account names." Both GameSpot and Metacritic are properties of CBS Interactive.

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39. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 19, 2011, 07:06 Zadig
 
While this obviously isn't a good thing, I don't pay any attention to metacritic so don't care if the numbers are rigged. Demos, sales, and Rock Paper Shotgun determine whether I buy a game. Sometimes Bluesnews comments push me in the right (or wrong) direction too.  
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38. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 19, 2011, 00:41 Jerykk
 
TellTale is definitely trying to go mainstream, what with the Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and Walking Dead games. Unfortunately, this has resulted in pretty underwhelming adventure games, if you can even call them that anymore. Like Sepharo said, TellTale needs to go back to making niche stuff.  
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37. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 21:27 Sepharo
 
nin wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 12:05:
If you're a fan of traditional adventure games, or a fan of previous Telltale games like Sam & Max or Tales of Monkey Island, I recommend you stay away from this.

I was just thinking about that last night, and wondering why they didn't go the traditional adventure game route. I would have been much more interested in that.

My guess is that they wanted to but the IP owners exerted pressure to pump up the action. I haven't really been all that impressed with Telltale's adventures lately, they are far too simplistic and easy. Which wouldn't be too big of a problem if they had a more interesting (to me) setting/story, like Gemini Rue, L.A. Noire, Syberia, TLJ...

I guess I want my comedy adventures with difficult and wacky puzzles and my dramatic adventures with engrossing story and environment.

Something really niche that I would love would be to bring back parsers (with Watson/Siri-like understanding) alongside graphical environments. Some of the best adventure games I've played over the past decade have been from the IF competition. Take one of the winners and give it some graphics but keep the parser.

This comment was edited on Nov 19, 2011, 03:23.
 
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36. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 20:10 Prez
 
Would you buy a car if all the reviews on it were written by the car company?

That's called advertising. And no, I wouldn't.

A key point here is that these were not "official" reviews by gaming "journalists". They're 'user' reviews, which by and large are useless for virtually anything because of the inherent fanboy/hater bias. The irony here is that this was pointed out by Gamespot, which through the Kane and Lynch/Gertsmann review debacle (allegedly) committed a far more egregious offense than the one they uncovered here.

It didn't bother me that much, either, because I think that people are allowed to be fans of their companies' products.

Yep. I would think an artist and a UI designer could fall under the definition of user - they obviously would have played the game. Of course they would be biased, just like every parent thinks their baby is the most beautiful the world has ever seen.
 
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
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35. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 19:59 Beamer
 
Prez wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 12:13:
Verno wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 11:27:
CommunistHamster wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 11:26:
Those groups don't have financial incentives to lie about the game, only psychological ones.

Exactly. And if you're going to paint EA with one brush for doing this then it's only fair to do the same with Telltale when they are basically doing the same thing.

FWIW it didn't bother me when EA did it. I have plenty of other things to bash EA for.

It didn't bother me that much, either, because I think that people are allowed to be fans of their companies' products. But, inherently, you'll like the stuff your company works on and look at them under a different light than other products (unless you really, really hate your company.)

So it's a deal, just not a huge deal. But man did people flay EA, with all kinds of accusations of them buying every review, anyway...
 
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34. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 18:06 Halo
 
Unless I know what I'm getting into, I'll always redbox a game for the weekend and figure out if I'm going to like it.  
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33. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 16:03 Cutter
 
Calwen wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 15:39:
Just out of curiosity, does anyone here actually read the Metacritic user reviews -- other than to validate their own opinions?

They often feel like a long, quantified Youtube comment.

Like most here I tend to ignore the extreme reviews - pro or con, so anything in the 5-8 range - and ten to focus on the more balanced ones that seem more fair and/or speak to my personal style of games I'm interested in.
 
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"Bye weeks? Bronko Nagurski didn't get no bye weeks, and now he's dead… Well, maybe they're a good thing." - Moe
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32. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 15:50 wtf_man
 
Calwen wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 15:39:
Just out of curiosity, does anyone here actually read the Metacritic user reviews -- other than to validate their own opinions?

They often feel like a long, quantified Youtube comment.

Sometimes... especially if I'm on the fence about buying a game. I try to read a handful of both the higher scores and lower scores, and determine if anything mentioned is something I would like or dislike. I then try to read a few of the average scores. Obviously I don't read every comment.

The thing is... you can't just read "all good" or "all bad" scores alone and get a decent idea of whether a game is worth purchasing. You really need to read both and see if anything that "stood out" that the commenters mentioned, would "stand out" for you.

/shrug
 
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31. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 15:39 Calwen
 
Just out of curiosity, does anyone here actually read the Metacritic user reviews -- other than to validate their own opinions?

They often feel like a long, quantified Youtube comment.
 
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30. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 15:33 SimplyMonk
 
User Reviews are laughably reliable. Too many hidden motives, trolls and stupid people to use them as a decent metric. Personally, I wouldn't even take them into consideration when deciding to pick up a game.

That being said, I don't see how employees posting in User Reviews is that bad. It's taking a tainted source and just making it more tainted. <shrug>
 
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29. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 15:16 WyldKat
 
DangerDog wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 13:59:
And people said "Trespasser" was a bad Jurassic Park game, at least there was an actual game to be played.

Trespasser just suffered from horrible weapon management issues (chiefly being forced to control your actual arm, cool concept but horrible for a game) and a handful of bugs. It was actually quite revolutionary for its day. It had a physics engine that I hadn't seen bested until Half-Life 2 with objects behaving as they should in the real world. It also had very complex creature AI. The rendering system itself was a marvel too. It would render 2d LOD sprites on the fly for far away objects and they would turn 3D at a certain distance. I think SpeedTree still does this.

Had Dreamworks not pressured them to release it with one of the movie releases I think it would have been a much more polished game.

That said, Operation Genesis is still my personal favorite JP branded game.
 
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28. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 14:31 nin
 
DeadlyAccurate wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 14:14:
Would you buy a car if all the reviews on it were written by the car company?

Rich Corinthian Leather!

 
http://store.nin.com/index.php?cPath=10
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27. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 14:14 DeadlyAccurate
 
Prez wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 11:09:
Just because they are biased doesn't mean they can't post reviews in my view. Hell, most user reviews are just as biased, being written by either fanboys or haters. They used their real names, so it isn't like they were being sneaky. I don't see this as a big deal myself.

The purpose of a review isn't to ego-stroke the maker of the product. It's to tell the potential customer whether it's worth their money. If a review comes from someone who benefits financially if you buy the product, that makes their review worthless. They have no reason to tell you it sucks, even if it does, and every reason to try to get you to part with your cash.

Would you buy a car if all the reviews on it were written by the car company?

This comment was edited on Nov 18, 2011, 14:19.
 
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26. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 13:59 DangerDog
 
And people said "Trespasser" was a bad Jurassic Park game, at least there was an actual game to be played.

I don't understand why Telltale even bother with licenses like this if they don't have any intention of actually making an adventure game out of it, they need to be strapped to a chair and forced to play old Sierra adventure games till they get it through their thick skulls.

 
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25. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 13:19 Creston
 
Tsk tsk tsk, Telltale... And it's not like you guys even need it.

Creston
 
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24. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 12:58 Verno
 
User review are a farce anyway. I trust a 10/10 review about as much as I trust a 0/10 review.

Unless users want to start identifying themselves for any potential bias...employees of other companies, working for other publishers, really hated Jurrasic Park, molested by Stephen Spielburg (KotCS debacle), thinks Michael Crichton is a douchebag, etc...where do you draw the line. Aren't our opinions based on biases? Isn't the simple act of buying and playing a game in the first place based on some sort of bias?

If you honestly rushed out and bought this game because you truly believed it would be like "Heavy Rain" directed by Stephen Spielburg, then you've got bigger problems you should get help for.

Those are all fair comments but the point is transparency is better for consumers to weigh all options and make up their own mind. I distrust perfect review scores almost more than "hater" scores but unfortunately those user reviews seem to often get the most weight on metacritic so they get a lot of eyeballs. As for where the line is drawn, ideally companies would have internal rules for PR but often times its in their own best interest if employees skirt them and try to influence reviews.

Is it realistic to expect the industry not to try with money on the line? Probably not. Should that stop people from calling them out when they do? No way.

This comment was edited on Nov 18, 2011, 13:07.
 
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Playing: Dragon Age Inquisition, Far Cry 4, This War of Mine
Watching: The Walking Dead, The Fall, As Above So Below
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23. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 12:50 Ruffiana
 
Verno wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 11:15:
Prez wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 11:09:
Just because they are biased doesn't mean they can't post reviews in my view. Hell, most user reviews are just as biased, being written by either fanboys or haters. They used their real names, so it isn't like they were being sneaky. I don't see this as a big deal myself.

They are under no obligations to do so but they should disclose their status first thing in the text of the review. The reason they don't do this is simple, they want people to think it's from a potential consumer. If it was me I would never review my own game - it's in poor taste and smacks of desperation. Telltale Games is a great studio but just because they used their real names doesn't make it any less silly. The bioware thing blew up for slightly different reasons but I think it's the same principle.

User review are a farce anyway. I trust a 10/10 review about as much as I trust a 0/10 review.

Unless users want to start identifying themselves for any potential bias...employees of other companies, working for other publishers, really hated Jurrasic Park, molested by Stephen Spielburg (KotCS debacle), thinks Michael Crichton is a douchebag, etc...where do you draw the line. Aren't our opinions based on biases? Isn't the simple act of buying and playing a game in the first place based on some sort of bias?

Otherwise, a half-dozen overwrought (and somewhat humorous) reviews from employees will get buried by other users and largely ignored in contrast to the official review scores. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to see 10/10 from the users next to 40%-50% reviews from the media to think something might be up.

If you honestly rushed out and bought this game because you truly believed it would be like "Heavy Rain" directed by Stephen Spielburg, then you've got bigger problems you should get help for.
 
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22. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 12:33 saluk
 
It's not like their boosting is helping their rating  
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21. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 12:13 Prez
 
Verno wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 11:27:
CommunistHamster wrote on Nov 18, 2011, 11:26:
Those groups don't have financial incentives to lie about the game, only psychological ones.

Exactly. And if you're going to paint EA with one brush for doing this then it's only fair to do the same with Telltale when they are basically doing the same thing.

FWIW it didn't bother me when EA did it. I have plenty of other things to bash EA for.
 
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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20. Re: Jurassic Park Metacritic Boosting Nov 18, 2011, 12:11 Cutter
 
Cheater cheater pumpkin eaters!
 
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"Bye weeks? Bronko Nagurski didn't get no bye weeks, and now he's dead… Well, maybe they're a good thing." - Moe
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