Giant Bomb News

201 Comments

Eidos + Reviews = Magic

Eidos just wants people to buy the next Tomb Raider game. Is that so wrong?

It's the Tomb Raider lady, but in real life!!!!
With what is now officially an annual tradition, Eidos has found itself caught in the middle of another ridiculous, review-related controversy. The title this time around is Tomb Raider: Underworld, and the tactic apparently being employed over in the UK is nothing new.

GameSpot's Guy Cocker managed to set this one off with a Twitter update that hit like a trash can crashing through the window of Sal's Pizzeria... provided that the trash can in question took two days to be seen or heard by anyone wanting to report on something controversial-sounding:
call from Eidos--if you're planning on reviewing Tomb Raider Underworld at less than an 8.0, we need you to hold your review till Monday.

After people finally saw this two-day old message this morning, things started moving quickly. The UK-based site videogaming247 put in some calls Barrington Harvey, the public relations firm responsible for handling Eidos' affairs in the UK. What they got in response was a surprising blast of honesty--not something people are used to seeing from PR firms, to be sure.

Said a Barrington Harvey rep on the phone this afternoon: “That’s right. We’re trying to manage the review scores at the request of Eidos.”

When asked why, the spokesperson said: “Just that we’re trying to get the Metacritic rating to be high, and the brand manager in the US that’s handling all of Tomb Raider has asked that we just manage the scores before the game is out, really, just to ensure that we don’t put people off buying the game, basically.”


If I were some sort of message massager, I'd find the guy that said all that and boot him into the street. Then again, he's not exactly saying anything that shocking... some publishers, for whatever reason, still seem to think that PR people are able to have some sort of actual impact on review scores. Personally, I think that's just so there's one more person to blame when review scores come in lower than expectations. Obviously, the game couldn't be at fault, right?

(While we're on the topic, MTV Knows Best's Stephen Totilo wrote a solid series of articles about game reviewing that covers similar cases, like the good ol' Red Steel "give this a 9 and you can run it early" message. You might want to give that series a read if you're interested in this sort of thing.)

For its part, the PR firm for Eidos' UK efforts issued a longer statement essentially contradicting the previous statement. Here's a bit from what VG247 received:

Barrington Harvey is not in the position of telling reviewers what they can and cannot say. We love Tomb Raider and believe it merits a score of at least 8/10, but if someone disagrees that’s entirely their prerogative. No problem at all. Seriously: no problem.

Our original NDA stated that in order to receive an advance copy of the game, reviewers agreed not to post reviews ahead of 5:00pm, Wednesday 19th November 2008. Nothing else. No further obligations whatsoever.


So... was the other guy lying? Or has the story changed now that it's become "a story?"

One last pretty funny bit on this topic before I leave you to draw your own conclusions. The UK version of GamesRadar is currently skinned up with a takeover ad that rebrands the site as "TombRadar." That's pretty clever, I'll admit, but this bit from a press release about the ad deal that surfaced on The Escapist is the actual funny part...
"Tomb Raider: Underworld is a great game, well worth the 9/10 scores it is picking up across gaming websites and magazines," said James Binns, publishing director at GamesRadar owner Future. "Getting the message out there on launch day is essential in the games market and this takeover gives Eidos unprecedented cut through."

The game is currently sitting around 77 on Metacritic with only one score sitting at or above the 90 line.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
201 Comments
Posted by Jeff
It's the Tomb Raider lady, but in real life!!!!
With what is now officially an annual tradition, Eidos has found itself caught in the middle of another ridiculous, review-related controversy. The title this time around is Tomb Raider: Underworld, and the tactic apparently being employed over in the UK is nothing new.

GameSpot's Guy Cocker managed to set this one off with a Twitter update that hit like a trash can crashing through the window of Sal's Pizzeria... provided that the trash can in question took two days to be seen or heard by anyone wanting to report on something controversial-sounding:
call from Eidos--if you're planning on reviewing Tomb Raider Underworld at less than an 8.0, we need you to hold your review till Monday.

After people finally saw this two-day old message this morning, things started moving quickly. The UK-based site videogaming247 put in some calls Barrington Harvey, the public relations firm responsible for handling Eidos' affairs in the UK. What they got in response was a surprising blast of honesty--not something people are used to seeing from PR firms, to be sure.

Said a Barrington Harvey rep on the phone this afternoon: “That’s right. We’re trying to manage the review scores at the request of Eidos.”

When asked why, the spokesperson said: “Just that we’re trying to get the Metacritic rating to be high, and the brand manager in the US that’s handling all of Tomb Raider has asked that we just manage the scores before the game is out, really, just to ensure that we don’t put people off buying the game, basically.”


If I were some sort of message massager, I'd find the guy that said all that and boot him into the street. Then again, he's not exactly saying anything that shocking... some publishers, for whatever reason, still seem to think that PR people are able to have some sort of actual impact on review scores. Personally, I think that's just so there's one more person to blame when review scores come in lower than expectations. Obviously, the game couldn't be at fault, right?

(While we're on the topic, MTV Knows Best's Stephen Totilo wrote a solid series of articles about game reviewing that covers similar cases, like the good ol' Red Steel "give this a 9 and you can run it early" message. You might want to give that series a read if you're interested in this sort of thing.)

For its part, the PR firm for Eidos' UK efforts issued a longer statement essentially contradicting the previous statement. Here's a bit from what VG247 received:

Barrington Harvey is not in the position of telling reviewers what they can and cannot say. We love Tomb Raider and believe it merits a score of at least 8/10, but if someone disagrees that’s entirely their prerogative. No problem at all. Seriously: no problem.

Our original NDA stated that in order to receive an advance copy of the game, reviewers agreed not to post reviews ahead of 5:00pm, Wednesday 19th November 2008. Nothing else. No further obligations whatsoever.


So... was the other guy lying? Or has the story changed now that it's become "a story?"

One last pretty funny bit on this topic before I leave you to draw your own conclusions. The UK version of GamesRadar is currently skinned up with a takeover ad that rebrands the site as "TombRadar." That's pretty clever, I'll admit, but this bit from a press release about the ad deal that surfaced on The Escapist is the actual funny part...
"Tomb Raider: Underworld is a great game, well worth the 9/10 scores it is picking up across gaming websites and magazines," said James Binns, publishing director at GamesRadar owner Future. "Getting the message out there on launch day is essential in the games market and this takeover gives Eidos unprecedented cut through."

The game is currently sitting around 77 on Metacritic with only one score sitting at or above the 90 line.
Staff
Posted by DondonIcon

man, tomb raider is gettin' mad DIRTY!
(as in terms of controversy, not dirt)

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Ahhh, too funny.  If this were a perfect world, the honest PR guy would be cranking out stuff like this and the news world would be a hell of a lot more interesting.

Moderator
Posted by floodiastus

Nuke em!

Posted by Upryse

Haha. Excellent.

Posted by Weltal

Honest PR guy; An oxymoron?

Posted by Steve_C

Guy Cocker is awesome.
This is kinda bullshit though, they're just trying to do damage control. I'm sure Eidos doesn't want to be surrounded in more controversy after the Kane and Lynch fiasco.

Posted by Lepuke

I've been sick of Tomb Raider since TR 3 on the PS1.  They were not getting my dollars anyways.

Posted by KungFuM0nk3y

Man I want to like Edios as they've had some great past experiences, but they keep proving that they are not about games, but about money.  Yes, all game developers want to make money, but many get into the business for "the love of the game" so to speak.  They need to fire their top bean counter and focus more on producting quality, and not have to worry about any weaknesses in their product.

Posted by SuperMooseman

Guy Cocker ftw! :)

Posted by RHCPfan24

Love it! Glad Jeff highlights this story.  It has been about a year since the K&L event, and I think we should wonder who gets fired next ;)

Edited by Venatio

Ah, this brings back bad memories regarding the Kane and Lynch fuck up, shit like this sucks but atleast something good came out of the K&L thing, and thats GiantBomb.com

Eidos is so fucking stupid...


PS. I borrowed K&L from a friend and it sucked, Jeff was a little generous with that 6.0, it deserved a 4.0 imo

Posted by addictedtopinescent

Yeah me too got sick of playing TR a long time ago.

Eidos are being stupid again, this is complete bullshit.
Posted by sociald1077

Want good scores? Make a good game.

Posted by TeflonBilly

Another interesting read about the shadier side of games reviewing is the series of articles by Dan Hsu on his and Crispin Boyer's new blog
http://sorethumbsblog.com/

Posted by JoblessTerence

The icon and title of this story made me laugh really hard.  I think Eidos going to become a very hated company in the gaming industry if they keep pulling bullshit like this.

Posted by ImperiousRix

You'd think that:
1. Tomb Raider has such a loyal following that even if it was crap (as most Tomb Raider games, save recent years are) it'd still sell solidly enough that this kinda bullshit managing would be a moot point.
2. Developers would worry more about making a game that's good and that they're proud of over making a game that they hope is going to make a lot of money.  I know this will never be the universal case, but look at games like Psychonauts, System Shock, and the orginal Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.  Those games recieved excellent reviews, but didn't sell worth a goddamn.  Then look at something like Dynasty Warriors, which sells solidly every year for making the same game... every year.  Good Ratings =/= Good Sales

And also... Jeff covering an Eidos controversy story?  Oh, the irony!

Posted by BeeMac420

A sign of the times all of us are living through, this kind of shit is only going to get worse.
These underhanded tactics used to sell games are pathetic, this compiled with the apparent intent on destroying the used games market is leaving a sour taste

Posted by thenexus

It is still the case that some media company big wigs want the extra's and will agree to do this sort of thing for publishers and developers and they will always try it especially when they themselves realise the game is not quite that good or not as good as what the other games that are being released at the same time and they are there to make money.

What I am glad to see this year though is more and more of the gaming media and reviewers maturing into a powerful community where the majority are sticking together and telling developers they will give a rating of what they think the game deserves. I just want to see the big websites and magazines to follow the others.

I have been thinking of reviews for a while now and scores, I think you can scrap them full stop and still offer a fast method of reviewing.
I myself only read a whole review if I am only half interested in a game or not. If I know I may get a game I look at the ratiing on giant bomb and the summary at the end.


I think the wrap up should be as an intro/leadin for a fast access opinion, or at least if you did it on giantbom for example a "summary" button at the top near the score you clicked to get a pop up to read that information that is at the bottom.

My vision of a score which I do not know if it would work or not would be to not have an overal score. You have a game which all are split into different elements, how does it look, how does it play, the story etc. So rate it accordingly. each element with a colour in a bar and a percentage of a total bar. If it is heavy on the graphics with little or no story then the bar will look be mainly all blue for graphics and a bit of green for story and some for gameplay. That with a summary opinion of the game should be enough to gage the game along with the full review if you want to read it.
That way developers can not force a score on you if you want it early, your review system does not work like that so they cant say that to you, it would be interesting to see how they reacted to people using systems that offered feedback to gamers and the info they need but no overal score.  You really just need to know if it good, bad, or ugly and worth your money or not and everyones opinion is different. I like the giant bombs approach to reviews and I love the guys that do them and I respect the giantbombs team more then others and trust their opinions.

Posted by FalcomAdol

Well, I still intend to play this game, but now I'll be buying it used.

Fuck you Eidos.

Posted by Zaerus

Just for the hell of it, put a camera up in the PR guy's office, give it a metacritic of 2.0 and just watch.
Bet he'd go apeshit if he already assumes 7.0 is too low

Posted by Hamz

Man i feel the Eidos forums will be in for some more goatse abuse now, it was only a year ago roughly that they took them down after a major flooding regarding a certain game and the score given by a certain, yet somewhat awesome, reviewer....

Posted by Milkman

Sorry Jeff, but Cocker-gate sounds much better than Gerstamann-gate. Or much worse. I can't decide.

Posted by Meltbrain

Aw man that's fucking gross I'm gonna avoid eidos published games as much as I can.

Posted by ratzombie

Brings back memories, eh Jeff?

Posted by zitosilva

We're trapped in a cicle! This will happen every year... in the coming months Guy Cocker will be fired from gamespot and thus will create his  own videogames website... you heard it first here.

Posted by Keyser_Soze

COCKERGATE.

Posted by BiggerBomb
Milkman said:
"Sorry Jeff, but Cocker-gate sounds much better than Gerstamann-gate. Or much worse. I can't decide."

Cocker-Gate sounds like a porn spin-off movie of Nixon's administration.
Posted by TheHBK

Fuck Eidos.  And fuck 3DO, RIP, for trying this kind of crap on Portal Runner before.  Its just disgusting to read that publishers try to influence review scores and even more fucked up that some reviewers will bow down to them.

Posted by Blinck

fuck you EIDOS, if you want your games to get a good score, make games that fucking deserve it.

(P.S. - Not saying Tomb Raider doesn't deserve it because I haven't played it)

Posted by babblinmule

It days like these that I'm not estatic about being British....

Edited by BiggerBomb
babblinmule said:
"It days like these that I'm not estatic about being British...."

What does that have to do with being British? EA is a greedy clusterfuck of evil and it's based in the U.S., their nefarious deeds do not reflect poorly on me because I'm also an American.
Posted by Death_Burnout

Really Eidos? Again? Awwww C'mon!!

I remember them forging review ad's for Kane & Lynch or something last year too, according to Kotaku anyway

That reminds me, next week is the anniversary of Gerstmann-gate, lets all get the balloons out...

Posted by kingmasters

behold cocker gate

Posted by Rorschach

Yeah, it's pretty sad. Maybe people could just, you know, build a good game? That could get you good scores.

Posted by sdauz

man its the circle of life, a crappy publisher makes a crappy game and buys crappy reviews wow.....not that im saying tomb raider is crappy, but after this some ppl may be put of by the stupid move eidos took......has anyone besides me seen that gamespot has become super money centric,, that's fine but the amount of praise they had for NFS underground was crazy compared to the bad review ign gave it

Posted by BiggerBomb
Rorschach said:
"Yeah, it's pretty sad. Maybe people could just, you know, build a good game? That could get you good scores."

That would be too cost inefficient.
Posted by Pibo47

What a bunch of fuck tards.

Posted by oobs
Posted by CurtisManCannon

Hey Jeff, how do you feel about Joystiq calling you "the world's most famous video games journalist?"    LOL, I laughed pretty freakin hard when I read that.

Posted by FaintDeftone

People still care about Tomb Raider?

Posted by Stevokenevo

echoing other people but again;  Want good scores, make a good game!  I also feel compelled to add an expletive in this comment because stuff like this is complete codswallop.  POOP!

Posted by cgrady

nice Do the Right Thing reference

Posted by TheWesman

I am ANGRY with RAGE!!!  Wait....I wasn't gonna buy this crap anyways.

Posted by MadExponent

Haha...Eidos, you remind me of the American Auto Industry in that...if you can't make a good product, you deserve to fail.  So, hopefully, you fail and you have to restrtucture to actually make good shit.

Posted by BiggerBomb
CurtisManCannon said:
"Hey Jeff, how do you feel about Joystiq calling you "the world's most famous video games journalist?"    LOL, I laughed pretty freakin hard when I read that."

What's funny about that? He's probably the most known video game journalist.
Posted by Ping5000

I don't really see what's so wrong about this. Eidos wants to make more money. Is that so wrong? Just let them go on with their business. It's not like your purchase depends on Metacritic scores, right?

Posted by NickM

Jeff's breaking this shit down!