Video game development company High Voltage Software was so chagrined by a negative review of their game, The Conduit 2, its creative director may have encouraged studio staff to retaliate against the author—by inundating the Amazon page for his novel with negative reviews.
T. Michael Murdock made no secret of his dislike—and outright distaste—for the The Conduit 2. "It's appalling," wrote Murdock in the review he penned for Joystiq earlier this month. "The graphics are a mess...dialogue doesn't match with the lip movements of the characters...the creativity of the level design is ...non-existent." These are just a few the criticisms Murdock leveraged against the game—and compared to the admittedly mixed reception the title has received overall, his was likely the most caustic.
Murdock is not only a video game critic, but an actor and novelist—and a footnote to his review conveniently links directly to a listing on Amazon for his fantasy novel The Dragon Ruby. In an e-mail leaked to the press and first published by Marooners' Rock (its subject reads "We Heart Joystiq") Matt Corso of High Voltage suggested to his staff that they "feel at liberty to...return the favor by writing a review of Michael's book for him."
Lo and behold, The Dragon Ruby, a previously highly (though sparsely) rated title, began to incur some hateful and fairly erratic write-ups. "Garbage" wrote one Amazon user. "I had more fun reading the directions on a bottle of aspirin" chimed another. And, perhaps most charmingly of all, one reviewer described the book as "gayer than aids" — though whether this particular nugget belonged to a High Voltage employee or apologist is impossible to say.
In response to an inquiry from The Escapist, an employee from the studio confirmed that the e-mail was authentic—but emphasized that Corso had suggested that his colleagues "should read the book before giving a review" and that his "mind really wasn't in that dark of a place" at time that he wrote it—characterizing the memo as a "tongue-in-cheek jibe at most."
Jibe or jab, Murdock was displeased by both the behavior of the studio and by their subsequent avowals to both The Escapist and Marooners' Rock. He writes:
The issue is not that it's a cute back and forth between a major video game developer and a lowly reviewer, but moreso that a major company attacked the livelihood of the reviewer because they didn't like the review, and they're acting like that's ok. Even the email response they sent to The Escapist condones what they did, and admits it. Then they wryly continue saying that kind of behavior is respectable, warranted and, most of all, above reproach.
For the full scoop on this battle of injured egos, follow the links below.
Conduit Studio Accused of Amazonbombing Conduit Reviewer [The Escapist]