Rock Band 4 developer admits its employees posted positive game reviews on Amazon

Harmonix states the reviews were by employees, and that it does not believe the practice is appropriate.

Harmonix has confirmed that some of its employees posted five-star Amazon reviews for Rock Band 4.

Talk of the possible link between the reviews and Harmonix surfaced on the /r/games subreddit on Wednesday. A few Redditors posted screenshots of reviews with authors that appeared to be Harmonix employee. A Destructoid post later confirmed a few of the names were employees of the developer:

Harmonix's statement suggested that employees had done this of their own accord, and that it did not support such actions:

Harmonix has clarified its internal policy about posting reviews of our own products on retail sites, and we've asked that existing reviews be edited to identify Harmonix employees or be removed entirely. While we believe the reviews posted by a few employees were sincere and without ill intentions, as a studio we don’t believe these are appropriate actions. We appreciate the feedback from the community, and take our relationship with our fans seriously.

Discussions on the Reddit thread centered around whether the studio had pushed employees to review the game, hoping nobody would notice who wrote them, or if the employees genuinely liked the game so much as to give it a five-star review liked the game so much because they actually felt that way.

Both are plausible explanations. It makes sense that employees working on a game for a couple of years would be invested in its success. And the financial futures of co-developers Harmonix and Mad Catz's are very invested in how well Rock Band 4 does in the coming months.

...the financial futures of co-developers Harmonix and Mad Catz's are very invested in how well Rock Band 4 does in the coming months.

Since the response by Harmonix, many of the identified employees have deleted their reviews, with at least one, Matthew Nordhaus, adding a lengthy clarification to his review.

This isn't the first time employees have been caught reviewing their own company's games. In 2011, a nearly identical situation took place with Dragon Age 2, when a couple of BioWare employees submitted glowing reviews of the game to Metacritic. A later statement from Electronic Arts, which owns BioWare, defended the practice.

Harmonix statement reported via Destructoid.

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Published Oct. 22nd 2015

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