BioWare employee posts Dragon Age II review on Metacritic?

Did a Bioware employee skew Metacritic's user ratings with a dodgy Dragon Age II review?

This morning's Top Story is the rumor that a BioWare employee may have been caught skewing Metacritic's user ratings.

Reddit user GatoFiasco became suspicious of the top User Review for Dragon Age II on Metacritic yesterday when it seemed to, in his words, "read almost like a press release" rather than an honest opinion. Following up on his intuition, he investigated the reviewer in question -- one "Avanost" -- and discovered via his social media footprint that he appeared to be an engineer from BioWare named Chris Hoban.

The review in question has since been removed, along with the cached version, and the Metacritic user ratings for Dragon Age II are, at the time of writing, hovering around the 4.0 mark. It's difficult to tell from the negative comments posted whether these are genuine criticisms or simply community backlash to the alleged attempt to skew the ratings. GatoFiasco believes that many of the negative comments come from 4Chan users.

The community's objection to this kind of behavior -- known colloquially as "astroturfing" -- is not necessarily that an employee of a company has potentially attempted to skew user review scores. Rather, much of the controversy over the topic is from the fact that Avanost, if he is indeed a BioWare employee, did not disclose his ties to the company as part of his Metacritic review. Under the FTC Publishing Guidelines governing testimonials and endorsements, "bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service."

It's unlikely that this is the first time corporate "astroturfing" has taken place when it comes to user reviews on Metacritic, particularly with a product as seemingly divisive amongst the gamer community as Dragon Age II. But this instance, assuming there is some truth to it, is a high-profile case that will hopefully encourage developers and publishers to rethink the way they handle promotion of their titles -- or at least to encourage their employees to be more careful with their social media footprints.

Here's a visual rundown of GatoFiasco's "investigation", produced by a community member.

STAT CHECK -- 8:45AM PST, Mar. 15, 2011

Chances You Saw This Story: 50%

Calculated by number of times we saw it divided by the number of sites we visited today.

GamePro Forum Views: 389

GamePro Comments: 6

Top Story is an analysis of a topic that seems to be on everybody's mind for the day -- it could be the most important story in our industry, or it could be a dumb story that got a ton of comments. You, the reader, vote with your attention by viewing and commenting on stories in our News Flash section.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags biowaregames

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Pete Davison

GamePro
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?