Reddit user GatoFiasco discovered that two reviews appearing on Metacritic for Dragon Age II were written by the game developer’s own staff.
GataFiasco found "something off" with the top user review by ‘Avanost’ which, he said, "reads almost like a press release."
"The immersion and combat of this game are unmatched! A truly moving and fun epic. Anything negative you’ll see about this game is an overreaction of personal preference. For what it is, it is flawlessly executed and endlessly entertaining," wrote Avanost on the Metacritic review.
GatoFiasco tracked down Avanost and found that the name corresponds to that used by BioWare applications engineer Chris Hoban. Another was found from Dragon Age project manager Benoit Houle.
Game web site Kotaku turned to EA PR for a response, reportly receiving the following reply from a ‘senior public relations manager’:
"Of course the people who make the game vote for their own game. That’s how it works in the Oscars, that’s how it works in the Grammy’s and why I’m betting that Barack Obama voted for himself in the last election."
GatoFiasco described the situation as "a matter of ethics and integrity," adding that a "consumer requires objective information in order to make an informed decision about purchasing a product."
While gamer opinion is divided on the issue, Kotaku’s Mike Fahey opined that there was a difference between a marketing team posting a review versus a proud game developer.
"It’s another thing if someone that worked hard on a product for several years goes onto a public forum and lets his or her pride over what they’ve accomplished shine through."