Because gamers are technical by nature, and identify themselves so strongly with the experience of playing games, and often see themselves as “amateur professionals” they also tend to be tuned into information that your average book reader or movie-goer would never see.
That’s why this attempt by Eidos to game the system seems so ridiculously ham-handed:
Gamespot UK journalist Guy Cocker revealed the tactic in a Twitter post on Wednesday that said: “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.”
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.”
On one level it acknowledges that gamers are probably going to respond to Metacritic’s review numbers, but it also completely fails to realize that if the information got out (and why wouldn’t it?) the fans will consider Eidos’ lack of confidence in their own product into their perception of the game as well.
It’s hard enough to re-invigorate a product that’s been through as many ups and downs as Tomb-Raider has over the years, especially when it seems like every iteration of the game is trying to be a “major re-launch”, but this kind of behavior only serves to confirm people’s worst fears. Oh, and turn them into a target for Penny Arcade.