Telltale Games have just published their video game take on the Jurassic Park brand. Jurassic Park the Game is the studio’s effort to combine the action of the films with their own penchant for character dialogue and game pacing.
However, it seems their work hasn’t been enough to warrant trust in their customer base. Several Telltale employees decided to take their conflict of interest to the Metacritic user review section and submit perfect scores for their game. The words that complemented the 10s tossed in were gushing as well. GameSpot has the find, along with a solid editorial stance.
Here’s how GameSpot pointed out the problem and did their digging:
“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.”
I suppose the biggest problem I have with this news, aside from the obvious conflict of interest that goes into submitting a “product review,” is that I actually like Telltale as a company. No, their games aren’t for everyone and they do tend to vary in quality, but the place as a studio and staff is one that I like very much. In my interactions with the company, I’ve always walked away thinking, “gee, these guys are on the up and up, I like them.”
Now? I’m not sure. Gamers don’t like when the public perception of games is tampered with. I will say, however, that folks don’t likely put too much credence in the user reviews section of Metacritic. Scores tend to polarize between 10 and 0 and are often written by complete idiots with a surplus of free time. Readers typically know that and treat the user score as such.
What matters, to both readers and publishers, is the critical score. For Telltale’s Jurassic Park the Game, that score hasn’t been tabulated yet. The reviews that have been submitted, however, are not looking good.
What do you think of Metacritic and its easily-tampered-with user review scores?