Shacknews is reporting that in an effort to keep TombÂ Raider Underworld High on the rankings on Metacritic, Eidos has a PR firm tasked with trying to convince publications and websites to hold off on their reviews if the scores are below a certain score.
A story on 1up refers to the story first being broken when GameSpot U.K. journalist Guy Cocker posted on Twitter that he received a call from Eidos’ PR firm, saying that if Underworld was going to get a score below 8.0, they wanted the review delayed until Monday, which is three days after the game’s release on Friday. Videogamer247 then contacted the U.K. PR firm, Barrington Harvey, which confirmed they were indeed calling publications to try and quell negative reviews. This is scary stuff, and doesn’t bode well for the reviews industry at all.
“That’s right. We’re trying to manage the review scores at the request of Eidos,” a representative said. Explaining why, the representative said, “Just that we’re trying to get the Metacritic rating to be high, and the brand manager in the U.S. that’s handling all of Tomb Raider has asked that we just manage the scores before the game is out, really, just to ensure that we don’t put people off buying the game, basically.”
That statement right there opens up a whole can of worms as to why we even bother reading reviews for games anymore, isn’t the purpose of a review to allow the consumer to make his or her mind up as to whether or not to purchase the game?
However, a statement released by Simon Byron, one of Barrington Harvey’s directors, insists that demands made to delay reviews were never made, and publications are free to put their reviews up whenever they like, whatever the score. “Our original NDA stated that in order to receive an advance copy of the game, reviewers agreed not to post reviews ahead of 5:00pm, Wednesday 19th November 2008. Nothing else. So I guess we can call everyone else liars then?
No further obligations whatsoever,” the statement read. Byron noted that there are already scores up that are below 8 out of 10, and explained that, “As an ex-journalist myself, I firmly believe in editorial integrity and the right to express an individual opinion. As an agency, we never — ever — make demands of the press in terms of awarding scores; at the end of the day, they are free to score as they wish.” I would really like to believe him but the facts already lead to something way deeper beneath the surface here.
The statement did, though, admit that “Barrington Harvey has been working hard to ensure the launch scores of Tomb Raider Underworld are in line with our internal review predictions over the launch weekend,” which is where things get dodgy. Is withholding information not that same as lying about it? Sure, they’re not demanding that reviews be suppressed, but they are asking for reviews to be delayed, which is almost the same thing in my book.
Especially over a weekend, where I’m sure a lot of games purchasing would take place. Imagine checking Metacritic on the friday and seeing Tomb Raider has a average of 8.0, going out and buying the game, checking Metacritic again on Tuesday only to find it’s score has dropped to a average of 6.0, not very nice. This behaviour is misleading to the very people that keep these companies in business.
I’m at the point now where don’t believe the hype about games anymore, there’s been far to much controversy surrounding games reviews lately to honestly believe anyone’s opinion anymore. It’s a sad day for us consumers, a sad day indeed when we can no longer trust our enthusiast press to give actuate reviews games or in this case be allowed to in a timely manner.
On a quick ending note, 1up also noted that you mayÂ likely remember, this would make for Eidos’ second reviews controversy just within the last 12 months, after the Internet erupted around Kane & Lynch when it seemed as though then-GameSpot executive editor Jeff Gerstmann was fired over his negative review of the game. Both Eidos and GameSpot, however, denied that was the case.
Last Updated: November 24, 2008