Telltale, the popular developers of episodic adventure games like Sam & Max and Back to the Future, launched the first installment in their new series of Jurassic Park games this week, and despite most gaming outlets not receiving any advance copies for review, a number of glowing, perfect-10 awarding user reviews appeared on Metacritic, leaving some in the gaming press to wonder who got a chance to review the game before it came out. After some snooping, Gamespot discovered who these reviewers were: Telltale employees who had actually worked on the game.
Surprisingly, representatives from Telltale defended the employee reviews, saying that “Telltale Games do not censor or muzzle its employees in what they say on the internet.” They further went on to state that Telltale is completely okay with employees reviewing games that they have worked on, as long as they publicly disclose that the reviewers are, in fact, the same people who made the game. Telltale says the reviewers in question did adhere to this policy, since they used names and screennames that anyone who, with a Google search, could’ve found out belonged to Telltale employees. They also said that their employees were proud of their work and are free to show that pride through any avenue possible.
Of course, this whole thing does come across as a bit pointless; the user reviews on Metacritic are mostly used by fanboys seeking to launch negative campaigns against other consoles’ exclusives, so I don’t think many people take them seriously. But then again, it is a bit disingenuous of game developers to write reviews for their own work and try to pass them off as the opinions of a consumer (because really, who’d normally take the time to do a background check or even a Google search for the author of a user review?) and really, the only thing this stunt accomplishes is to call into question the validity of any future user reviews the game might get. I haven’t played the new Jurassic Park game yet, but for what it’s worth, I’m sure ten out of ten Telltale employees would recommend it.