I want to write a bit more about the whole Eurogamer ‘review’ of DarkFall, because I feel some people are missing exactly why this is not just ‘someone not liking your game’, but actually a much more damaging two pages of lies. It’s one thing to give a bad review of a game based on design decisions and your opinion of them, no issues with that. It’s another to lie about both the game itself and your time spent playing it. That is not okay for a variety of reasons.
First let’s start with the facts. It’s very clear that the reviewer never got beyond the most basic aspects of DarkFall. He figured out how to move around, how to swing a weapon, and how to ask for help in public chat (check the screenshots). All of that takes a few seconds when you first log in. After a few minutes, you figure out how to manage your inventory/hotbars, how combat works on the most basic levels, and you start to get a feel for what is going on in DarkFall in terms of the world and it’s PvE/PvP balance. The reviewer never reached the second stage, yet claimed he played for nine hours. Either it takes him nine hours to figure out the same thing it takes most people a few minutes, or he is lying. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume the latter.
The major difference here however is his trash got published on a major website, and not some troll posting on a forum or commenting on a blog. His lies are picked up by sites like:
Warcry, who add about as much to the story as the reviewer added to DarkFall, good effort and explains why you are so relevant today.
Massively, who try to stay neutral, which in part gives some credibility to the initial piece due to a lack of research.
MMOCrunch, who admit to their in-game time, and at least give solid reasons for disliking the game.
Keen and Graev, who’s personal review style can be described with a simple: “1st month? Best game ever. Second month+: worst game ever, but this upcoming title is Awesomesauce guys!” trend each month or new release.
And finally Kill Ten Rats (I site I love, which is why I’m disappointed most by their post), who unfortunately quote some of the lies in the piece and take joy in its final 2/10 score, again a major failure in basic research.
Metacritic also considers the Eurogamer review in its overall ranking, and we know some studios (not Aventurine) base pay bonuses on a games final metacritic score (not to mention stock prices are also affected if a major game gets panned or praised). If someone reviewing your work blatantly made up lies, and this affected your paycheck, would you not react?
This is not whether DarkFall should have scored a 5/10, a 10/10, or a 1/10. It’s not a debate on how long someone has to play a game before they can pass judgment. It’s about a major news site publishing lies, and then standing behind them when called out. If I wrote that FreeRealms is just a gay life simulator because I read you can play a fairy (but in my review I say I’ve played it for weeks and it is indeed just that), and CNN or BBC quotes me on that, do you think SOE is not going to react? If enough news sites misquote the story and eventually “FreeRealsm: Gay simulator” is the headline, you think Sony as a whole is going to sit back and just lulz about it while portfolio managers adjust earning expectations and buy/sell rating based on the size of the gay simulator market? If you see the headline that FR is a gay simulator, are you as an average customer looking for a kids game going to rush out and find out more, or pass on it and never look back?
Eurogamer made a mistake in paying this guy for the review. They made another mistake in never checking his work. They made the biggest mistake when they backed him up after being provided countless examples of his lies and factual errors. Get it right: fire the writer, take down the review, and issue an apology to both Aventurine and the gaming community.
(Side note: In case someone wants to read a review by someone who has actually played the game beyond character creation, check out this 60 day write-up by Paragus Rants (from Inq, my DF guild), and the beta impressions linked within, which at least offer factual information along with real player opinions)