Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Question Mark over Eurogamer's Darkfall Review

I am not a fan of Darkfall. I have never played the game and I doubt I ever will. Yet I am deeply worried about Eurogamer's Darkfall review.

The review is here and Aventurine (makers of Darkfall) have responded here.

If you haven't time to read all that my synopsis in a nutshell is that Eurogamer (highly respected games website) gave Darkfall (niche pvp focussed mmorpg) a very low score in a review. Aventurine wrote a robust response on their forums pointing out that the review accounts they had issued to Eurogamer have spent no more than A FEW MINUTES in the game. Eurogamer claim that their reviewer spent at least 9 hours in the game.

Who is wrong who is right?

I don't know but having read the review I have to admit it sounds like the reviewer never even got off the starting blocks. Aventurine's version has the sorry ring of truth.

I could be very wrong. It could even be that the game is badly put together with such a terrible user interface that the reviewer couldn't make any progress despite several hours of trying (although Aventurine's logs suggest that only a few minutes were spent trying). However I don't think this is acceptable from a professional reviewer reviewing a game as rich and complex as an MMORPG which is acknowledged to be targeted at a niche audience. If the reviewer genuinely couldn't get into the game then an honest professional response would have been to admit that he wasn't able to review this particular game.

What needs to happen now?

Although I am more convinced by Aventurine's account of what happened I don't agree with their request that Eurogamer pull the review. At this stage that in itself would be a form of dishonesty especially if Eurogamer really believe it to be a valid review. Apparently Eurogamer has offered to re-review the game. I think this would help although I don't want a precedent to be established where game companies can keep asking for new reviewers until they get one they like. Perhaps Eurogamer should link to Aventurine's rebuttal in the introduction to their review. And certainly Ed Zitron, the reviewer himself should be given an opportunity to respond because at the moment this whole affair reflects badly on his reputation.

EDIT: Eurogamer have made a response here and I think it is a good one. They are standing by the review and their reviewer Ed Zitron and they are contesting Aventurine's claim that he spent so little time in the game. They are getting a very experienced reviewer to give a second opinion on the game. I think this response is a good start, acknowledging the accusation was important and it does sound as if they are sticking by the review for genuine reasons. I still think the reviewer Ed Zitron himself should be given a chance to defend his name and perhaps a note put on the original review mentioning the controversy. Thanks to Marshall in the comments for bringing this response to my attention.

8 comments:

Chappo said...

Apparently it was the lowest mark that they had ever give away. Seesm strange that Eurogamer woudl even defend the review by sayign that the reviewer had spent at least 9 hours in the game when for most MMOs it takes hundreds of hours to even hit the level cap. Pretty limp.

Marshal said...

Looks like EG posted a response to their response :) It's a link at the end of the original review http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/editors-blog-darkfall-aftermath-blog-entry

Apparently it was a little more than a few minutes, but still, you're right to be wary. Interesting drama :) Wonder how the next review will go

mbp said...

Thanks @Marshall. I think Eurogamers response is a good start. I have edited my original post to refer to it.

Anton said...

The best review is a 2 week trial account.

Anonymous said...

With re-review Eurogamer will eat them alive, only to justify their bad mistake, so shame.

mbp said...

@Anonymous I trust Kieron Gillen. He may not like the game but I do think he will give an honest opinion.

Anonymous said...

This isn't about re-reviewing until you get the one you like. This is about eurogamer outsourcing a review to some hack who couldn't be bothered to do what he was payed for (Not really playing the game, and for some reason only posting screenshots of the game at low settings), and then refusing to admit they screwed up. The fact that it wasn't a eurogamer staff is meaningless, they still showed incompetence and unprofessionalism by outsourcing their reviews to unsupervised hacks - The kind of thing they would never get away with against a major publisher without losing all credability as a reviewer.
Bringing in someone else to review it is just an attempt at saving face, they believe it would damage their integrity (hah!) if they were to admit they made a mistake, but they wouldn't be willing to grant a re-review if they didn't admit there was legitimate reason to redo it. They're trying to have it both ways.
What the devs of darkfall want, and are entitled to, is that this proveably error filled and shoddy review be taken down immediately and a real review put up in it's place. As it stands, the first review will be considered official as far as sites like metacritic are concerned, heavily skewing results, and it will be a while before the re-review comes out which means that every day this hack piece stays up it is costing darkfall potential customers in these critical opening months of an MMORPG's life - MMOs don't recover from bad impressions right off the bat.

Anonymous said...

This isn't about re-reviewing until you get the one you like. This is about eurogamer outsourcing a review to some hack who couldn't be bothered to do what he was payed for (Not really playing the game, and for some reason only posting screenshots of the game at low settings), and then refusing to admit they screwed up. The fact that it wasn't a eurogamer staff is meaningless, they still showed incompetence and unprofessionalism by outsourcing their reviews to unsupervised hacks - The kind of thing they would never get away with against a major publisher without losing all credability as a reviewer.
Bringing in someone else to review it is just an attempt at saving face, they believe it would damage their integrity (hah!) if they were to admit they made a mistake, but they wouldn't be willing to grant a re-review if they didn't admit there was legitimate reason to redo it. They're trying to have it both ways.
What the devs of darkfall want, and are entitled to, is that this proveably error filled and shoddy review be taken down immediately and a real review put up in it's place. As it stands, the first review will be considered official as far as sites like metacritic are concerned, heavily skewing results, and it will be a while before the re-review comes out which means that every day this hack piece stays up it is costing darkfall potential customers in these critical opening months of an MMORPG's life - MMOs don't recover from bad impressions right off the bat.