While Funcom may be the well known developer of Age of Conan, Eidos is the actual publisher here in the United States. And recently, they've landed themselves in some hot water over a ratings scandal. Many gamers count on internet reviews and ratings, and as such they expect them to be true and reliable. It seems when it came to another of Eidos' games (Tomb Raider: Underworld), their PR firm decided to test how close to the line they could get.
What is alleged to have happened is that the PR firm asked game review houses to not release any reviews that were under a 8.0 score until three days after the game had been released. This was a blatant attempt to have a deceptive meta-rating score, which is an average of many rating scores. When confronted with the allegations, the PR firm had this to say:
Thats right. Were trying to manage the review scores at the request of Eidos, a representative of the firm advised. Were trying to get the Metacritic rating to be high, and the brand manager in the US thats handling all of Tomb Raider has asked that we just manage the scores before the game is out really, just to ensure that we dont put people off buying the game, basically.
I suppose that could be interpreted as doing their job, but there's got to be a limit somewhere. Also, ponder how difficult it would be to do this with an MMO. The initial reaction is that it would be too difficult with a move as blatant as this, mainly because the game community is often intimately involved with the game well before release. But if there were a much more subtle effort? MMOs in the past have shown that they're not immune to not living up to hype either.
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