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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags gamesbioware

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

Pete Davison

GamePro
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?