Jurassic Park User Reviews Abused

Telltale Games employees found feeding perfect 10 reviews to Metacritic without disclosing their work on the game.

Jurassic Park: The Game launched yesterday, but you won't find a review on GameSpot just yet. Part of that is because our review staff is swamped at the height of the holiday release season, and part of it is because we didn't get any early review copies from developer Telltale Games.

"This brilliant editorial deserves a 10 out of 10!"--Reader review of this article almost certainly not written by the author.

In theory, this would be an ideal reason for interested gamers to check out GameSpot's fellow CBS Interactive property Metacritic. Ordinarily, the online opinion aggregator can be counted on to compile review scores and links from a wealth of professional review sites, as well as assessments from other gamers who wrote up reviews on their own.

However, a quick examination of the Jurassic Park: The Game Metacritic page on Wednesday morning brought up a number of "Telltale" indicators that something was fishy. By mid-afternoon, Jurassic Park had no critic reviews, but it had four user reviews, each with a gushing write-up of the game's numerous virtues and a 10 out of 10 grade.

Between the reviewers' constant lionizing of Telltale Games, complete sentences, proper punctuation, and paucity of spelling errors, we began to suspect that the user reviews were not the product of actual players, but of Telltale representatives. Sure enough, a cursory Google search on the reviewers' user names backed up our suspicions. One of the reviewers was a user interface artist at Telltale; another was a cinematic artist. According to their LinkedIn profiles, both were relatively new to the studio, but they should have more than enough experience in the industry to understand this was a bad idea.

For instance, they might have seen the online outrage earlier this year when a BioWare employee gave Dragon Age II a perfect Metacritic user review score. And even if they hadn't seen that, it probably should have occurred to them at some point that Metacritic users might want to know that the guy describing the Jurassic Park game as "if Steven Spielberg decided to direct Heavy Rain" might be a little too close to the project to offer an objective assessment. The same goes for the guy who called it a "lovingly crafted game" with "top notch" writing that "truly delivers that iconic Jurassic Park vibe."

When asked about a company policy on posting user reviews without disclosure of their work on the game, a Telltale representative passed along the following statement: "Telltale Games do not censor or muzzle its employees in what they post on the internet. However, it is being communicated internally that anyone who posts in an industry forum will acknowledge that they are a Telltale employee. In this instance, two people who were proud of the game they worked on, posted positively on Metacritic under recognizable online forum and XBLA account names."

Reasonable as it is for these developers to be able to voice their own opinions, the suggestion that posting the reviews under Telltale online forum names and Xbox Live handles is somehow transparent enough is insulting. Is the average Metacritic visitor mildly curious about this new game supposed to instinctively know the forum names and online handles of every game developer for every title? Is it somehow their fault if they take a review at face value instead of Google researching every username on the site? The suggestion that their actions are acceptable because they didn't bother covering their tracks speaks more to ineptitude than virtue.

Complete sentences, proper spelling, effusive praise for the developer: the Telltale signs of bogus user reviews.

But if the goal was to drag those individuals over the coals, you'd see their names and LinkedIn profiles here. Instead, the goal is just to say in clear terms that this kind of behavior is unacceptable. Developers should have enough faith in their work to let it stand on its own merits. Proud of their work or not, the act of posting these reviews without proper disclaimer that the authors themselves worked on the title is inherently deceptive and shows a gross lack of respect for their game's potential players.

As of Thursday morning, the Xbox 360 version of Jurassic Park: The Game has just one professional review, a 55 out of 100 from Game Informer. It has a user review average of 8.2 based on six reviews, four of them perfect 10s.

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Discussion

263 comments
GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

lol talk about biased reviews and a lack of modesty

croc560
croc560

I played the game and I loved it. It was a good story and I give it a B. If they make a JP sequel, I think they should use the same plot. Sure it is a too easy game, but if you're a fan of JP, I recommend this game.

Deinbeck
Deinbeck

So you're upset that they praised thier own game on a review site that collects reviews from a bunch of bogus advertising paid review sites like Gamespot? Silly, no? How is it any less crooked than giving inflated bs reviews for advertising dollars?

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

Very Sad if your part of the developer team working on a videogame. Then rate it a perfect 10. If you work in the videogame industry in any form you are supposed to adhere to a higher standard. Then just people who play videogames. It is "Us" who are supposed to be pulling stunts like this not "You" The people working in the industry should know better.

Apathetic_Prick
Apathetic_Prick

@larryboy_dragon: Indeed. The remark is pure arrogance. Does that mean that if someone like me posted a user review (I take pride in my writing, after all) that they could not have actually played the game? Does it mean they have no idea what they're talking about? Does it mean that they lack the passion of the "rabble"? Some of the remarks you make, Brendan, are very douchey. It's one of the reasons I don't treat many of the Gamespot staff opinions as anything worth holding authority, because you aren't the only one that thinks that being an authority grants you the right to be a condescending prick Granted, some user reviews can be pretty bad, but you also just insulted your own audience by implying that they're potentially mindless and/or lazy. I applaud you. As for Telltale, your imployees are no better. But I suppose it is cheaper than paying off review sites; not everyone has EA's and Activision's money. The moral of the story is, take it ALL with a grain of salt where money is concerned.

Squire_Ramza
Squire_Ramza

Lulz, only way this game will get a good review.

gDamascus
gDamascus

"the suggestion that posting the reviews under Telltale online forum names and Xbox Live handles is somehow transparent enough is insulting. ...the goal is just to say in clear terms that this kind of behavior is unacceptable." I'm somewhat insulted that you imply I should be insulted. I believe I'm competent enough to draw my own conclusions when given the proper info.

packers91
packers91

lol, if you subtract the 4 10's the review average is a 4.9

MaxMouse
MaxMouse

Game is boring.. and even more boring if you are not a Jurassic Park Fan..haven't watch Jurassic park in years and series suck since lost world....Its mostly just point and click... 2/10 I didn't enjoy it like I enjoyed Back to the future the game... People trying to defend this lame game by saying its like a movie but wouldn't it be better if they just remove the lame point and click functions and release it on a DVD instead... or put it on nickelodeon or something

larryboy_dragon
larryboy_dragon

Came here on a link from Penny Arcade. Saw the line, "...complete sentences, proper punctuation, and paucity of spelling errors, we began to suspect that the user reviews were not the product of actual players..." Remembered why I no longer visit Gamespot.

terrascythe
terrascythe

Marketing fraud by any other name is still fraud. This is actually grounds for a law suit, not that I'm in favor of that. Sony was caught doing this in 2000 with motion pictures, they lost a $1.5 million law suit. And wasn't GS embroiled with a similar scandal after the firing of Jeff G?

Spahettificator
Spahettificator

Hmm, if I ever reviewed my own work it would never be a ten out of ten. I am incredibly harsh with myself when it comes to quality, which in turn makes me strive for complete perfection in whatever it is I'm doing.

calvinsora
calvinsora

@Sephylight: Last time I checked, GS don't make the games they review.

GuilhermeHQ
GuilhermeHQ

What kind of game would you expect from employees that need to do that?

Sephylight
Sephylight

The irony of a Gamespot writer reporting news of video game review ethics.

HalberdGalin
HalberdGalin

@im-a-roustabout Of course it's alright to post a review of your own game, why not? I went back a re-read what I wrote and it makes sense to me and a few others in the room (though bias), but it's an opinion and nothing more (plus or negatives on my comment mean nothing). In terms of your girlfriend, it's her opinion, just because I don't share her opinion means nothing to me because I don't know you or her. I see your tie-in to the subject but find it disconnected from the subject at hand being "creators reviewing their own work". When I worked at a retail store I would praise whatever I was PAID to praise, it was my job, so that statement about the car dealer is moot since it's not an opinion. Claiming 'accuracy' in an opinion is ironic at best, how can someone's opinion be accurate when it's subjective and speculative? My point being "How can a professional journalist call foul on a non-professional journalists' review of a product they helped create just because they didn't plaster a disclaimer to discount their opinion" if you wanted it summarized. Those who look at the score without reading reviews to buy games are idiots, so let them, as in time if the game really is that terrible, there will be far more negative reviews then positive.

Slagar
Slagar

The internet is free. Freedom is open to abuse. This is why, in the real world, we have laws.

hXcShock
hXcShock

I'd do that too if I made as terrible a game as this one.

nomailx
nomailx

NOooOOOoO! Do something Gamespot! You can't let this happen!!!! And what if those Telltale developers win a "best review nobel prize", instead of you!!! Just because you were too busy playing games and reviewing them again and again, re-correcting your grammar each time!!! PS: Srry for my poor user writing.

mtouchprod
mtouchprod

"Developers should have enough faith in their work to let it stand on its own merits." Or failing that, enough money to pay a site like gamespot to do the lying for them, like the rest of the publishers.

ronnet
ronnet

@LightninLew, how exactly does your response correspond with anything that I wrote? I think we are exactly on the same page here... are you sure you responded to the right comment?

Hellswrath99
Hellswrath99

Glad to see this getting some attention. This is nowhere near acceptable and I hope the message gets across this time.

zpluffy
zpluffy

no reviews can be really trusted unless you actually experience the game, period. Gamespot reviews can be biased, all it takes is right amount of money and negotiating and BOOM Good score. You'll never know....

Dragoncub
Dragoncub

While I agree that, as members of the development team, their view will be biased... let's be fair. Most of the user reviewers either give a perfect 10 or the hating 1 with scarcely any care for providing reasons on why the game merits those scores: 1/10 NOT ENUF HOT CHIKS 100/10 COS DINOSORS ...and taking these reviews so seriously says... not very good things about the reader. Just look at the user reviews for Dragon Age II, since this article mentioned them... (1/10 for streamling all ut of game for the COD playrs, their stupid!! COMBAT SUX!!! I NEED SO MANY EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!!!!) I'm not saying that all user reviews are like that, but taking all user reviews at face value is.... not a good idea. In fact, for that reason, any review that has a maxed score and yet sings glowing praises is almost definitely a plant. Even legitimate critics that provided 10/10 scores for other games would mention the occasional irk 'though it didn't detract from the overall piece'.

Falzonn
Falzonn

Yeah, anyone who trusts the average user to have fair, objective, unbias & intelligent reviews is well, an idiot. User reviews should almost never trusted. This article was much ado about nothing.

ccanfield1
ccanfield1

Thanks for making people aware of this. You are correct, "this kind of behavior is unacceptable".

AiGeeEn1
AiGeeEn1

"Spared NO Expense".. LMAO

mtait01
mtait01

1up game this game a D+ - no wonder they were giving themselves ratings lol

thedarklinglord
thedarklinglord

i tak uffense 2 the suggest that average internet peeps dont use proper grammer punctuashun or speeling u need 2 apollogiz Brenden sinclair!!!1!@! It actually hurt my brain to write/think that way. I probably gave myself a brain tumor. :(

CodyTG
CodyTG

Maybe they were afraid that the game would get reviewed low and get overly criticized for ridiculous reasons. Like you guys did to Skyward Sword. (Sorry still bitter over that review)

Crashbox45
Crashbox45

Whoa! Caught claw handed! Telltale you sneaky jerks!

Lugia_120
Lugia_120

So when it comes to this game,Metacritic gets attention.Oh,right,that sprite in the left upper side of the screen was fully black in the Zelda:Skyward Sword review.

PayneKiller
PayneKiller

you should just never trust Metacritic user reviews. Never, at any time.

therabs33
therabs33

caketoo you hit the nail right on the head. If a game is advertised all over the place it's guaranteed at least 7.5.

Vodoo
Vodoo

I have to say... I've been very curious about this game. I have no delusions that it's a great game and it's pretty much a point-n-click with a lot of quick-time-events scattered throughout. I'm interested because of the story. Following the "lost can" of dinosaur embryos has me intrigued. I just can't decide if my curiosity of the story is worth $40 for a retail 360 copy or $24 for a digital copy on PSN for plus members, which I am.

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

Not a big deal. They are considered users and user reviews are not really relied on as much as the scores from big name critic reviews. The average critic reviews usually tell the story much better then user reviews just look at street sweeper simulator where it gets perfect 10 reviews from users.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

Well they did get a lot of whiplash for it, the game now is down in the 2-3 range for user scores because many people seem to have taken to their own form of justice.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

Isn't it the employees' opinions on the game? Are they not allowed to feel the game they spent months on is great?

GriffinBalls
GriffinBalls

@Rickystickman "One thing I don't get: If you have perfect grammar that means you aren't a gamer? As far as I know my grammar is pretty good and I try to write sentences as correctly as possible. I gues since Gamespot writes articles with good grammar that means they aren't gamers." Whilst you make a slight point, you kind of ruin it by: - 1) Bad use of colon 2) Guess has two S's 3) I guess should have been a new paragraph Thats the point the author of this article was trying to make

Gant_1949
Gant_1949

someone is gonna be fired :P

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

@HalberdGalin what you said made zero sense. Yes, it's ok to post a review of your own game, but it's like being the judge in a competition your little kid has entered, and it's the same reason why doctors are not aloud to treat or operate on their friends and family. When you have a personal investment in the thing at stake, then there is a possibility no matter how small, that the review has been compromised. You need to understand that reviews are about objectivity. If you went to a car dealership and asked one of the guys what auto brand is the best, 100 % of the time they are going to say the place they are working at is the best auto brand ever, unless of course it's a used lot that has many differ kinds of make and models like Carmax. There heart is in it bc they made the game! Of course they are going to scream its praises! Its just not an accurate review to read, here's another analogy in case you don't understand my point...my girlfriend thinks I'm the hottest guy on the planet...do you think it's a credible source to hear from my gf that she thinks I'm the hottest guy in the world? Does it make it true? Not by any scale! I'm always going to be he best looking, have the biggest you know what etc etc, which is why i never take crap that my gf says too seriously! That sounded bad, but you know what i mean.

vega13mv
vega13mv

ok so remember guys, if you want you review to be honest you gotta make sure you sound like a 14 year old that doesnt pay attention in school. better yet, use CoD reviews as an example.

awright00
awright00

Even if you use metacritic instead of gamerankings, who even looks at the user reviews? Users are often stupid; at least with a professional review, you can read about the game and make up your own mind

Vodoo
Vodoo

Why is Metacritic considered as the defacto site for user-reviews and averages when you also have sites like Gamerankings.com that do the same thing and usually have a different user-review average? Personally, I think publishers/developers put to much stock in these types of sites and their reviews. 90% of the reviews are skewed toward a fanboy perspective and are only really written by hardcore gamers. Casuals would rarely take the time to go online and voice their opinion of a game. Yes, there are some genuine user-reviews to be had, but the point is that these sites are viewed as a make or break outlook toward a game when they should be taken with a grain of salt. Look at Modern Warfare 3... has record breaking sales but, according to users, is a sub-par, poor excuse for an expansion pack at full retail price. So the point that 2 Telltale employees rated the game high is irrelevant. Over the next week there will be so many user-reviews that it will have diluted those 2 votes to pretty much insignificant. And, as stated before, these reviews are rarely, if ever, a true indication of the games real value to potential buyers.

d33pak001
d33pak001

Best game of all time where the games have a date with the movies.... Plss buy it(Uhhh.. im not a Telltale employee)!!

HalberdGalin
HalberdGalin

Thanks for the opinion, Brendan, but it's also their choice to post whatever they want on a review site that is an open forum. Why should the be muzzled or forced to post a disclaimer along with their review, they're not journalists and not held to the same ethic standards. I've read plenty of professional reviews on Gamespot and I found the game to be lack luster or better in comparison. It's simply an opinion on art and numerical scores are arbitrary when it comes to art. Get off the high horse, let people make their own decisions. You should really focus your attention INWARD to the ethical problems that plague capitalist control journalism in the game industry and how it's being abused to boost sales then smack on a few employees of a game company proud of their work.

takkun2021
takkun2021

An awful game gets what it deserves.