Posted by Justin Mienkiewicz on Mar 15, 2011

Bioware caught red handed

So Dragon Age 2 is finally out and is being met with mixed reviews.  The most common argument around is that it isn’t as good as Origins but it isn’t terrible.  Fair enough.  Worse things could certainly be said, so you would imagine that Bioware could take the criticism with dignity.  Unfortunately, Bioware has proven itself unable to act like a professional company.

Bioware has been caught red handed writing a misleading review for Dragon Age 2 on Metacritic.  The review has since been pulled once they were found out, though the introduction blerb was saved in the cache.  How did they get found out exactly?  Read on.

A user on Reddit (popular global forum), GatoFiasco, was reading the top user review and noticed something about it that didn’t quite fit.  It sounded almost patronizing, calling the game flawless and stating that any negative reaction to the game is merely a conflict of personal preference.  So GatoFiasco decided to check out the user who posted this review, Avanost (who has since deleted their Metacritic profile) and discovered that their only review was the Dragon Age 2 review.  Interesting.  GatoFiasco then googled the name, Avanost, and found their profile on Plurk, revealing a name, Chris Hoban.  Taking this search with a grain of salt, he realized this could just be another person on the internet with the username of Avanost and so he wasn’t expecting anything to come of it.  However, a simple google search of Chris Hoban reveals that he is, in fact, an applications engineer at Bioware.

As I have pointed out, Bioware has since removed the review and Chris’s profile from Metacritic at an effort of damage control.  So what does this all mean?  Obviously the company wants their game to sell well, regardless of its actual value since the employees of Bioware need to put food on the table.  Nobody is going to say the product that they are selling is bad.  That’s not even what we are saying, Dragon Age 2 isn’t bad, but it isn’t the immaculate gift from God that this review made it out to be.  This show of deceit, however, puts Bioware in a tainted light, the same kind of light that Eidos has been known to revel in with the firing of Jeff Gertsmann, a former reviewer for Gamespot who refused to give Kane and Lynch a favorable review against the wishes of Eidos.  It is unknown if Bioware is the host of any other tom foolery similar to this.  In all honesty, I wouldn’t doubt it.  With this cute, little stunt many fans have lost their trust in Bioware and I’m a little inclined to side with them.  Deception such as this cannot be tolerated.  Bioware, I hope this is the only time this has happened and that this employee is punished appropriately.

Let this be a lesson to you, do some research before you buy a game and don’t base your opinion off of one review.

Edit: Zomg!  Reddit found this article!  Check out the story at its source.

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  • Boo

    Sucks to be Bioware. And as an act of defiance, you should totally take down the DA2 banners on this website.

  • anon

    Ironic with the DA2 banners

  • anonymous

    this doesn’t mean the review was officially acting on bioware’s behalf, or even if it was someone from bioware.

    this is a really pointless article that adds coincidence together to create a fact that just isn’t so.

    the game is junk, so is this article IMHO.

  • james

    He works for bioware, he was helping bioware sales. Bioware is composed by workers. Bioware is not a person, but people working on it are bioware. Their move was spotted, although they thought people wouldn’t research a bit more. See how they make of fans? Dumb ones..

    Hope we don’t get flooded by Astrosurfing “bioware was not involved” kind of thing.. lol

  • Cellophane Girl

    I dunno my friend that has the game says it’s pretty fun.
    I’m still planning on getting it. I enjoyed the demo.

    Though it is pretty dirty pool to do things like this, companies do it all the time. There are people who make extra money from being hired by companies (not just for games) to write good reviews for products.

    It’s underhanded but there are so many companies that employ this tactic that it’s not really surprising to me in the least.

  • Dina Favale

    Good thing the future Star Wars game looked like an outdated stiff bucket of cashcow milk, I won’t be buying a single Bioware product in light of these events and their constant inadequacy when it comes to the actual games.

    This is what you get for selling your soul to EA, Bioware.

  • Alexis

    I have to say this article, while at it’s core has a valid point, takes those and runs far beyond the value of that point. Yes, there’s something to be said of Bioware’s perceived corporate values if employees (who should ideally be in alignment with said values) are willing to lie and cheat to get more sales. On the other hand, we can’t say for certain what extent of blame should rest on Bioware’s shoulders versus Chris Hoban’s, in all likelyhood, it’s a bit of both. Saying however, that this is even remotely equivalent to how Eidos handled the firing of Jeff Gertsmann is a bit overboard. I’m definitely displeased with Bioware, but this article definitely reads a bit too sensationalist for my taste.

  • v8hilux

    oh dear oh dear, that’s pretty pathetic in a way cause surely they must know the majority of people wont rely on just that article/review let alone have access to it.

  • NewYears1978

    Bioware is dead to me. I have lost all faith in them since DA:O.

    Sad I had hoped with DA:O for the PC RPG to have been restored. DA:O was a great game despite some of Bioware’s shady practices and problems.

    But things have gone downhill since. I mean they lied about SecuROM. They made a fairly crappy game IMO compared to DA:O. Rushed, shorter, less story, dumbed down (it is)… technically flawed (doesn’t run well DX11 on almost ANY machine)…

    ..and now this. That’s it for me.

  • BioX

    I worked at BioWare as a contractor. Every time an online poll came out involving BioWare or a BioWare product, all employees and contractors received an email from marketing tell us to go to the site and vote for BioWare, thus skewing the results in favor of BioWare. Whenever BioWare put out a video on YouTube, we were sent there to vote it up. In that environment, you can see how Mr. Hoban was prompted by that lack of ethics to do what he did. I bet this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    BioWare is not a nice place. I remember being in the kitchen an listening to a high level officer in the company using foul language to order the front desk girl around. It is a pathetic and immature place.

  • StarBrother

    Haha, that’s what you get for having faith in any game company except tiny indie studios, nippon ichi and Atlus!