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Bf3 EA allegedly tried to filter reviewers

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 12:02 pm Post subject: No icon Bf3 EA allegedly tried to filter reviewers Reply with quote

When a blockbuster game is about to be released, there's always a certain amount of pressure placed on reviewers to give it a good review, which is considered a hazard of the business. Reviewers can also be filtered, sometimes subtly, so that only potentially the most favourable get to review the product. However, it appears like Electronic Arts went the extra mile to filter out potential bad reviews of Battlefield 3. Some reviewers in Norway, including gamer.no and gamereactor.no were asked to complete a questionnaire before they were given access to early review copies of the game. It appears that EA planned for reviewers that didn't answer the right way to be unceremoniously dumped. However, it didn't exactly turn out as they planned.

This is the questionnaire that was emailed to reviewers:

- Did the reviewer personally review BFBC2 or Black Ops?
- What score did he give it?
- What is his past experience with Battlefield?
- Is he a fan of Battlefield?
- Is he a fan of Call of Duty?
- Has he been playing BF Franchise? BFBC2? 1943? BF2?
- Has he expressed enthusiasm or concern for BF3? What are they?
- Did he play the beta? Did he enjoy it / get frustrated with it?
- What is his present view on the game?

Seems a little iffy, doesn't it? EA quite obviously want to gauge a reviewer's preference between BF3 & CoD and use that to decide whether to give the game to them or not. However, there was a bit of a storm about this and the issue was even reported on Norway's top news site NRK. This has since forced EA to withdraw the questionnaire, explaining the reason it went out as "human error". EA Norway marketing manager Oliver Sween made the following statement:

   It is a human error that was sent out. We have made a mistake and we apologize. It is not something that should have happened earlier or [that] we intend to continue.

It's a real stretch to think how this could have been anything but a deliberate attempt at reviewer manipulation. Human error is making a typo, not writing a whole piece designed to gauge a reviewer's product preferences! Given the high stakes involved aka millions of dollars, it's not really surprising that they might try it on. At least they knew to back down and save face in this instance.

If this practice is allowed to continue, then it threatens the integrity of independent journalism, potentially, leading to biased and untrue reviews. These would then gloss over or outright lie about things such as serious game bugs, poor graphics, poor gameplay and any number of other nasties sure to ruin the gaming experience. They would end up reading like a PR puff piece and damage the reputation of gaming review sites significantly. Of course, these dodgy reviews would make gamers very unhappy customers when they realized they'd been duped, likely resulting in the eventual reduction of future game sales as gamers lost confidence in them. But no matter, the games publishers would have that reliable old scapegoat "piracy" to fall back on and blame for their hard times (or less good ones) wouldn't they? However, it looks like the checks and balances in the system are working, so we are fine for now, for the most part. It would be naive to think that no corruption was taking place anywhere.

Sources: Kotaku, PC Gamer, gameranx & bf3blog
posted by qubit - 7:56 PM |  Related News |

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