Author Of Negative Conduit 2 Review Becomes Target Of Studio’s Ire, His Novel Attacked On Amazon

Author Of Negative Conduit 2 Review Becomes Target Of Studio’s Ire, His Novel Attacked On Amazon

Video game development company High Voltage Software was so chagrined by a negative review of their game, The Conduit 2, its creative director may have encouraged studio staff to retaliate against the author—by inundating the Amazon page for his novel with negative reviews.

T. Michael Murdock made no secret of his dislike—and outright distaste—for the The Conduit 2. “It’s appalling,” wrote Murdock in the review he penned for Joystiq earlier this month. “The graphics are a mess…dialogue doesn’t match with the lip movements of the characters…the creativity of the level design is …non-existent.” These are just a few the criticisms Murdock leveraged against the game—and compared to the admittedly mixed reception the title has received overall, his was likely the most caustic.

Murdock is not only a video game critic, but an actor and novelist—and a footnote to his review conveniently links directly to a listing on Amazon for his fantasy novel The Dragon Ruby. In an e-mail leaked to the press (its subject reads “We Heart Joystiq”) Matt Corso of High Voltage suggested to his staff that they “feel at liberty to…return the favour by writing a review of Michael’s book for him.”

Lo and behold, The Dragon Ruby, a previously highly (though sparsely) rated title, began to incur some hateful and fairly erratic write-ups. “Garbage” wrote one Amazon user. “I had more fun reading the directions on a bottle of aspirin” chimed another. And, perhaps most charmingly of all, one reviewer described the book as “gayer than aids” — though whether this particular nugget belonged to a High Voltage employee or apologist is impossible to say.


In response to an inquiry from The Escapist, an employee from the studio confirmed that the e-mail was authentic—but emphasised that Corso had suggested that his colleagues “should read the book before giving a review” and that his “mind really wasn’t in that dark of a place” at time that he wrote it—characterizing the memo as a “tongue-in-cheek jibe at most.”

Jibe or jab, Murdock was displeased by both the behaviour of the studio and by their subsequent avowel to The Escapist. He writes:

The issue is not that it’s a cute back and forth between a major video game developer and a lowly reviewer, but moreso that a major company attacked the livelihood of the reviewer because they didn’t like the review, and they’re acting like that’s ok. Even the email response they sent to The Escapist condones what they did, and admits it. Then they wryly continue saying that kind of behaviour is respectable, warranted and, most of all, above reproach.

For the full scoop on this battle of injured egos, follow the link below.

[Conduit Studio Accused of Amazonbombing Conduit Reviewer]The Escapist


    • Perhaps the journalist played through and fairly critiqued Conduit 2, after all a review is just personal taste.

      It sounds more like the company behind the game got offended that they could POSSIBLY get a low score for a game. They on the other hand encouraged BS reviews of this guys book. If they were genuine reviews fine, but ‘gayer than aids’? Come on. You cannot be serious.

    • Stop being childish. A critic reviews both good and bad games, these developers should expect bad reviews (especially so, given the result). Lashing out at someone is unprofessional as hell.

      Given that hardly anyone actually cares about The Conduit series, I’m betting most of those comments were left by employees. The rest by the honest-to-god fans out there (yes, all 3 of you).

  • Childish. If you put something into the public space you have to be prepared for negative reviews. I doubt anyone of those people read his book before slamming it which makes them douches.

  • Bad reviews – especially bad reviews from reputable sites – may be written by ‘lowly reviewer’, but they can really hurt developers. One bad review can make it nearly impossible for a developer to pick up more work, thus the studio has to pick up shorter, lower budget license based projects or even close down. I didn’t play Conduit 2, but I can understand why people who work really hard on a game that gets a bad review might want to get revenge. 🙂

      • Simply make a good game? I have no idea how difficult it is to make a well received game, but I wouldn’t assume that its an easy task… nor would I assume people would ever choose to make a bad game.

        I guess it does happen in other industries though. The people who write Britney Spears songs purposely write bad music, I guess, and the people at McDonalds headquarters don’t exactly set out to make the highest quality product, either.

        I’m not saying they did the right or wrong thing here. All I’m saying is that I can understand why some of the people who made the game might want to critique the critic.

        • You may WANT to. But before you criticise, look internally. Did you make your best effort? Did the product live up to its promises? Did you make the best product you could? Were the critiques fair and balanced? Instead of trashing the mans book why didn’t they then go to the magazine as I’ve seen once or twice and do a rebuttal? It makes for a more interesting scenario when a company calls out the critic? It’s actually happened before and makes for compelling reading and justification when a critic is called out on their own words by those they criticise. But again, the makers of this game had no right to do what they do. This man makes a living critiquing, that’s his job. They understood this. They make a living making games. They were both doing their jobs. If they don’t want negative press, they should test the game more, tweak it. Then put it out. Not EVERYONE is going to like a product, deal with it.

    • I completely agree, every game released should be given a good review, and reviewers shouldn’t be allowed to give their opinions at all! In fact, we should just let the publishers review games, then NO ONE would complain about bad reviews!

    • Making a game is taking a risk, I frankly dont want the industry to be molly-coddled as you obviously want to do, I want the industry, like all others to learn the hard way, regardless of the cost, what makes games good and bad, based off of experience. It makes it much better for the developers, and much better for the players all round.

  • Disgusting. Journalists don’t criticise willy-nilly, they critique, and Murdock is not a bad reviewer; he just evaluated a game he didn’t like. Saying he should “harden up” is the most ignorant thing I’ve heard here in a while. He has his well-deserved criticisms from literature reviews. However, High Voltage lowering the score of a previously high-rated novel in retaliation to a critique, possibly costing him sales and intentionally harming his reputation is a new form of childish.

  • This is so f♥cking juvenile. If you’re creating a game, you should be prepared to take criticism, even the hecklers, like a professional.

    Encouraginng fans to bomb a critic’s Amazon item is petty and cheap.

    • Thank god for the warning, I often hate people not warning me that what I’m about to click on contains frequent! 😛

      I kid, of course. And he sums it up pretty well.

      FYI people, it contains frequent course language, but very well deserved.

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