In the wake of the release of Stardockâs Ashes of the Singularity, some ethical concerns have been expressed by the company against CBS Interactiveâs popular video game website Gamespot.
In a tweet from Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock, he revealed an email entitled âConcerned about your choice of reviewer,â that was written to Gamespot on April 6th. âIn my 20+ year career Iâve never attempted to meddle in the review of one of our games,â he says in the first line. He goes on to suggest that reviewer Daniel Starkey âhas a personal animus towards me,â and that âhe has allowed this bias to affect one of his reviews of our games,â referring to his review of Galalatic Civilizations 3âs expansion âMercenaries.â He goes on to state his concern, saying that âthis same journalist has now been assigned to review Ashes of the Singularity,â what he calls an âobjectively excellent title.â He asked that the reviewer ârecuse himself and allow someone else to review the game.â
On April 25th, Gamespot released their review of Ashes, in which Starkey gave the game a 4 out of 10. In it, he cites robots who âlooked similar,â maps that were âdry and lack character,â and called the experience a âone-noteâ song. The average user rating on that same website as of publication was a 9/10
In a post on the official forums for Ashes, Wardell wrote an article entitled âBasic editorial standards in game reviews.â In it, he refers to an interview he did with The Escapist back in 2014, where he was asked about the #Gamergate controversy. In it, he confirmed that despite not liking how the internet were mobbing journalists, he felt that âthe gaming media has some serious problems.â He suggests that sites hire the cheapest âfreelancersâ to âput a few hours into a game and write something up for $200.â
In the article, he accuses Gamespot of allowing a reviewer he calls an âaGGâ (anti-GamerGate), to âuse the platforms they write for to push their personal agenda.â Despite sending information about Starkeyâs account permanently blocking him and the fear that he has a bias based on his personal views, Wardell confirms that âGamespot never respondedâ to his requests or concerns. He criticizes the reviewerâs opinion, pointing out that he ârated Goat Simulator a 6.â
Wardell also revealed in a tweet that Starkey has been assigned to review their other game Offworld Trading Company, which is due to leave Early Access in two days on the 28th. This game has a Mostly Positive rating by the Steam community, as does Ashes of the Singularity
We reached out to Starkey, Editor-In-Chief of Gamespot Danny OâDwyer, and Wardell for comment, but they did not get back to us in time for publication. What do you think of this? Are the developerâs expectations unreasonable, or should Gamespot approach this as a possible conflict of interest? Leave a comment below, and let us know what you think. And if you enjoy ethically conscious gaming news, make sure you keep reading Mouse N Joypad