The trouble with opinions.

Monday, November 24, 2008
Eidos has a bit of a situation on their hands. Some of you might remember the incident with Kane & Lynch some time ago. Gamespot, a site in good standing, had advertised the game for some time prior to it's release. However, when the game was reviewed and Gamespot scored it poorly, or at least poorly by Eidos' standards, Jeff Gerstmann, writer of the article and long time editor for Gamespot, lost his job.

Of course, this as all unrelated to the review he wrote, or so we're all told. It's hard to swallow that story though, especially in light of recent events. Eidos is once again turning the knife by attempting to block reviews of Tomb Raider Underworld below 8/10. There hasn't really been much word on the part of Eidos about it except for a strange press release from Barrington Harvey. The entirety of it is an exercise in legal avoidance and exquisitely tiring.

What the press release really means isn't important to this post. What is important is that we understand our responsibility in all of this. As consumers, we often feel like the plankton of the commercial world. Everything else eats us and without us everything would wither and die. That is true in many ways, but it doesn't mean we don't have other options. We can ask friends about the game, we can read the reviews of sites that don't use scores in their reviews (honestly, those are the only ones worth reading in my opinion).

Eidos should understand this. I'd bet most of my substantially small income that many of their employees are gamers with fully functioning brains. Blocking or holding reviews below a certain score isn't going to keep the truth out if your game isn't very good. Honestly, 8/10 isn't a bad score, that's what I told my parents whenever I had a similar score on a test and they seemed to believe me. Review scores are largely subjective anyway, we've already discussed that at length.

I'm not sure what Eidos really expects to accomplish with this stunt. If they think they might drum up some sales with controversy, they're going about it the wrong way. I can see more than a few people writing intentionally bad reviews as a result of the holds, driving the metacritic score even lower. In the end, if you don't have the faith in your game to turn it loose to the savage reviewers, than you should be taking a long hard look at their development. You can't pretend to fix a stove and then insist that people ignore the uncooked food.

Online reviews aren't most gamers' primary source for recommendations. You know it, I know it, Eidos knows it. Word of mouth is the number one sales driving force in the gaming industry. We may take shots at each other from time to time, but we're a pretty close community for the most part. These are the people Eidos should talk to about their game. Then again, black bagging your customers is a little too obvious for most companies.

Time will tell if Tomb Raider Underworld is a good game or not. Eidos will just have to wait and see what the world makes of it. In an industry where only 20% of the products ever turn a profit, that's about a solid a business strategy as you can get.