EuroGamer standing behind unfair and ignorant reviews?

May 6th, 2009 | By | Category: Game Industry, Games, Science

I have respect for what this company is doing with this game.. They are going down a road that is against popular WoW trends and aren’t sacrficing their vision to play it safe.  A lot of things get me pumped for this game and what this company is doing so it ticks me off when I see something like this.  However I don’t know both sides of the story so I can’t judge or comment.

To quote the above linked thread:

Just the facts:

Darkfall scores a 2 out of a possible 10. Reviewers hardly played the game based on the server logs.…-online-review

Eurogamer’s MMO Editor came to me over a month ago and asked for 2 accounts to review Darkfall which they promptly received. Today, more than a month later they came out with their long awaited review and we REALLY flunked it would seem. Darkfall got 2/10.

2/10 according to the Eurogamer scoring policy means: Avoid at all costs etc. You can find the scoring policy here:

Scroll down to 2 and see how much this guy hated Darkfall and how strongly Eurogamer prompts everyone to avoid it at all costs.

The MMO editor warned me personally about the bad review on the way, and I asked him to give us some consideration and get another reviewer on the case since 2/10 is the lowest review they’ve ever given, and Darkfall’s reviews so far have been mostly good ones. It sounded very unfair to me and I appealed its publication. Not even the harshest critics of the game or the trolls on various forums would give it that low a score. This is a niche game we explained and perhaps the reviewer’s play-style was completely different and he was maybe the wrong kind of person to review the game. Darkfall isn’t for everyone after all, and having someone who can’t handle this kind of game write the review would be unfair both to the game and to Eurogamer readers. You can’t use the same tool for every job. Eurogamer’s MMO editor refused and basically said that he carefully selected a reviewer that would be fair to the game and that he would stand by the review. Then he posted the review.

When we read the hostile review by Ed Zitron, one thing became apparent: he had not played the game at all. Eurogamer readers and Darkfall players are posting bullet lists of factual errors in the story. The reviewer hadn’t even figured out the very basics of the game before he wrote about it. We checked the logs for the 2 accounts we gave Eurogamer and we found that one of them had around 3 minutes playtime, and the other had less than 2 hours spread out in 13 sessions. Most of these 2 hours were spent in the character creator since during almost every one of the logins the reviewer spent the time creating a new character. The rest of the time was apparently spent taking the low-res screenshots that accompanied the article. At no point did this reviewer spend more than a few minutes online at a time.

Darkfall is the largest MMORPG game of its kind and this guy spent a few minutes playing(?) before he tore it apart. How can someone do that responsibly? Ed Zitron didn’t even give Darkfall a chance.

The entire review is opinionated and hostile; it attacks the game, the creators and the company at every chance. The creators and developers of Darkfall, as well as the Darkfall community through its reaction, consider this review suspect and question the motives behind its publication. We can take a bad review, but not like this. Even the worst reviews that we’ve received commend our efforts and speak of the potential of Darkfall. The majority of our players love the game. This review might keep new players from ever trying a game they would enjoy.

We sent the play-time information to Eurogamer and asked them to take down the article as it is damaging our game’s reputation but also Eurogamer’s reputation. We asked to get an unbiased reviewer on the case who will actually play the game before writing about it. They said that taking it down now would be more damaging to their reputation than if they left it up. After our reaction to publicize the play history of their reviewers to protect our game, they asked us to wait while they try to confirm what we already knew from our logs. We’re afraid that waiting any longer is unacceptable to us, because this review was designed to drive people away from our game and allowing it to remain without any kind of reaction is out of the question. Out of professional courtesy we’ve waited 5 hours longer than we said we would before posting this.

An update: Eurogamer got back to us via their editor and said that their reviewer is a contributing writer rather than a staff writer, that he claims to have spent at least 9 hours playing the game and they will stand by their publication. We wrote back that this is a lie and that our server logs

(which they already have) show the playtime down to the second and they are at their disposal. They offered to re-review the game and see if the second reviewer has a different opinion than the first one. We wrote back that it might be hard to find someone to confirm the first review, especially if they actually play the game.

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