An article on Ars Tecnicha today describes how Hydrophobia developer Dark Energy Digital is getting all Fatal Attraction on reviewers who panned their game:
The company's strategy for fighting back is to attack the credibility of the sites that didn't like the game, and borderline harass writers who speak out against it. At what point does damage control go too far?
Man, all I can say is there but for the grace of whatever God you believe in go I. Reviews for Hydro Thunder Hurricane were generally quite good, but there are always one or two that really make you crazy. Like, rabbit-boiling crazy. In our case one review in particular, from a certain prominent website, really smarted.
Whenever you ship a game, no matter how good, there's always a (hopefully short) list of stuff you know could've been better. Polish you didn't have time for, tuning you could have done more of. If you're honest with yourself you know the game's weaknesses as well as its strengths. And I don't really mind when a reviewer notices those things and knocks your for them. Fair is fair.
The reviews that drive you crazy, the ones that make you want to buy a crate of eggs, let them rot in the sun for a couple of weeks, and head over to the reviewer's office park, are the ones where feel like the writer just had a bug up his ass for whatever reason and decided to take it out on you.
The particular reviewer I'm thinking of listed out a bunch of criticisms that to me just didn't make sense. Among other things, he griped that our races were too long, over 5 minutes -- when in fact all the races can be finished in less than half that. He also complained about the load times. WTF? Our load times are like 10 seconds per level, tops. Those kinds of comments make you wonder: Did he even play the game?
The review was so lopsided, and so off-base compared to the other reviews we were getting, that we considered bitching about it publicly. But we decided -- and I think the Dark Energy story proves -- that kind of noise hurts you more than it helps.
Ultimately I think it's best to, as the guy sings, "ac-cen-tuate the positive, and e-lim-inate the negative."
So thanks to Edge, and Gamespot, and Joystiq and GamePro and OXM, and the many others who actually played our game to the fullest and appreciated its strengths. And thanks to the fans who have taken the time to write in, or post on the forums or Facebook, to tell us how much they enjoyed it. You all give us the fire in our bellies to keep on keepin' on!
And to You Who Shall Remain Nameless -- that crate of eggs is still out back. Gettin' reallllly ripe....