Monday, May 23, 2011

Conduit 2 Gets Amazon-Bombed - Immaturity Abounds

Coffee Beans
Early last week I posted, "Sega's Advertising Failure - Conduit 2?"  In that post I showed the sales ranks for Conduit 2 from April 19 though April 30.  I also provided the "professional" review score average for Conduit 2 from, and I provided the review scores and review score average from customers on

Just one day after my post, drama broke-out between High Voltage Software(HVS) and's "reviewer" of Conduit 2.  An internal HVS email was leaked, showing that HVS employees were encouraged to read/rate's Conduit 2 reviewer's book he had written and had available for purchase on  The email did not specify what rating to give the book, but considering the review score was 1 out of 5 Stars from for Conduit 2, I would assume that is what was hoped for in retaliation reviews as well.

Initially after the email was sent internally, negative reviews started appearing on the "reviewer's" book on  After the email was made public by, some of those negative reviews started disappearing.

As for Conduit 2, the game had a customer review score average of 4.5 out of 5 Stars on, based on 13 customer reviews as of 12:30AM on May 17, 2011.  Conduit 2's customer review score average was 87.69%, based on 13 customer reviews from Tuesday.

It appears the news of the internal email at HVS has caused more negative reviews to pop up on Conduit 2 though, than the "reviewer's" own book.  Let's take a look.

Filtered Thoughts (sort of)
Again, my post was published early Tuesday morning and Conduit 2 only had 13 customer reviews at the time, with a 4.5 out of 5 Stars rating, and an average of 87.69% when the reviews were converted to a 100% review scale.

I just checked Conduit 2's review score average on, around 6:00PM on May 23, 2011 and the game now has a 2.5 out of 5 Stars rating based on 31 customer reviews.  Conduit 2's current customer review score average is now 51.61%, based on the 31 customer reviews.

Here are two images showing the review scores from last Tuesday, and today:
Reviews recorded around 12:30AM on May 17, 2011.
Reviews recorded around 6:00PM on May 23, 2011.
Here's a timeline of events that led up to the rating drop for Conduit 2:
     May 3 -'s editors allowed a "review" for Conduit 2 to be published that trashed the game basically on every front, and contained major spoilers.  The "reviewer" also admitted that he barely even played the game's multi-player with no mention of how the local multi-player and online varied.  The "review" proved Joystiq has no standards for their reviewers, which is the case for most sites these days.  An internal HVS email was sent to employees about returning the favor and "reviewing" the "reviewer's" book on, even providing a link to the book's page in the email.
     May 17 - Conduit 2 has 13 customer reviews = 4.5 out of 5 Stars, and/or a 87.69% on a 100% review scale
     May 18 - Marooners' Rock published a post with an email picture showing an internal HVS email suggesting HVS employees rate the reviewer's book 1 star in retaliation.
     May 18-23 - HVS issues apology about the review issue, but the "reviewer" still clings to his ignorance acting like nothing was wrong with his review, and Joystiq editors and staff allow the trash review to still be on the site.
     May 23 - Conduit 2 has 31 customer reviews, and/or a 51.61% on a 100% review scale.

What do I think about the situation?  I think HVS, the "reviewer", AND Joystiq are all at fault.  HVS and Matt Corso (the HVS employee that sent the email) are at fault for sending the email and apparently acting on it (and not stopping it from starting).  The "reviewer" Michael Murdoc is at fault for writing such a piece of trash "review"; but considering his review was somehow published, it should give hope to those of you looking at getting some freelance work with sites like Joystiq...because evidently they do not proofread reviews, and they do not have any review standards. Last, I believe's editor(s) are at fault for having no standards and for allowing such a trash review to be posted; but not only to allow it to be posted, but also for it to remain posted.

The fact that HVS was so worried about one "review", really baffles me.  In my opinion, HVS should have been sending around a collection bucket to try and raise funds for some Conduit 2 advertising, instead of sending an immature email, about an immature "reviewer's" "review" on evidently an immaturely run website. (My opinion, I know.)

If's editor(s) allowed (or allows) a Killzone 3, Resistance 3, or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 "review" to be published without the "reviewer" playing the multi-player at length, I think the outcry would be loud and clear, and justifiable.  In this situation, I guess because Conduit 2 is only a Wii was okay to allow an immature and not very complete, or informative, review to be published on the site?

In my post last Tuesday, I showed the lowest recorded sale rank for Conduit 2 from April 19 though April 30 had been #1,138 on April 30; as of this posting, around 6:00PM on May 23, 2011 Conduit 2 has an sale rank of #2,022.  I think Conduit 2 has no hope at this point to reach the sales of the original game, The Conduit, and this situation is definitely not a good way to help promote the game.

If you have not seen any footage of Conduit 2, the trailer below should give you a brief idea about the game, without spoiling the ending(as some people don't seem to mind doing):

What do you think?  Is HVS only at fault, or does this "reviewer" also have some blame to bear?  Do you think's editor(s) have any blame to bear in this situation for allowing such a "review" to be published?

If you have played Conduit 2, what do you think the game deserves review score wise?  Also, do you think there should be game review standards of some sort?

If you are interested in Conduit 2, you can see prices linked on below:


  1. This news made me laugh. Utterly childish, but to be honest, I wasn't surprised to read it. HVS never stuck me as an especially mature/ professional organisation.

  2. Coffee, you are a man after my own heart.

    It would seem that most of the people who are following this story are under the (false) impression that they have to choose a side, and that either HVS or Joystiq must be blamed as the bad guy, with no quarter given.

    I, like you, am of the opinion that both companies, and their representatives, are at fault.

    HVS: It's not cool to retaliate against a reviewer that didn't like your product. It doesn't matter what horrible things they did, how poorly executed or constructed the review was, or whether they gave away the ending of your game. You don't Amazon-bomb someone for their opinion, no matter how stupid that opinion may seem to you at the time. I understand that the employees were supposed to "read the book" before they trashed it, but try and look at the subtext of your little e-mail brainpuke... If my BOSS told me to "return the favor" to a reviewer who had reviewed my game badly, I would think he was saying, "DESTROY HIS BOOK." Be an adult. You are, I must remind you, a PROFESSIONAL.

    Joystiq: Grow up. You may not have liked the product being reviewed, but that is no excuse to not give it your best. As a reviewer, your readers are expecting that you make every effort to truly understand the product (and that means trying every mode) before you damage the developer's reputation. If they deserve it, then so be it, but there are ramifications to your actions, and you must grow up, act like a non-spoiled adult, and realize that. ALSO, if only out of a basic, human respect, don't give away the ending of something that a team of people have put their blood, sweat, and tears into over the course of two years. That move lacked class or decency, and has (rightly) damaged your reputation.

    People Amazon-Bombing Conduit 2: You are supposed to review the game, not the company, or its employees. By doing this, you are acting worse than either party above. To compare it to parenting, you are hitting the child to teach them not to hit. It doesn't work, and it shows a general lack of thought on your part. This idiotic battle is between a reviewer who was too lazy and mean-spirited to post a proper review, and a developer who whose employees lacked the presence of mind to realize that their retalitaion made them look like pathetic, spoiled brats.

    Apolgies for the length. Once again, thank you, Coffee. I wholeheartedly agree with you.


  3. Well said, the both of you (Coffee & BitNick).

  4. very immature of people. I bet the guys from Joystiq did that. Besides, there is a misconception that HVS told people to spam the book with negative reviews, they didn't do that at all. They told the guys to read the book, not spam. The review Mr. Murdock is a liar, and a terrible video game journalist. Very unprofessional.

  5. I couldn't have said it better BitNick. It really makes me shake my head at both of them along with the me-too's bombing Conduit 2's reviews.

    As for the game, I hope it does well and may look at it down the road. Although this entire thing certainly sours my opinion of both joystiq and HVS.

  6. @bitnick - I agree completely. there's plenty of blame to go around, so why 'pick a side'. Interesting story though, and kind of reminds people that while internet is largely anonymous - it's not always quite as 'safe' to hide behind as people think.

    @coffee - loved the comment though about it giving others of us hope that someday we might actually get to be reviewers based on the ridiculously low standards set in this particular example.

    I actually hadn't heard about any of this until your article, but since then it's provided some good reads - thanks!

  7. I think the main deal right here is that its a wii game and even though im a wii gamer I think its done for the wii cause of game like black ops which are half of the games as on other consoles I think the wii feels like a old gen console now I have been a nintendo gamer for more than 20 years and for the first time im thinking on switching to other console and I think if nintendo does not release their new console by the end of this year it will loose many gamers like me no way that they will wait for it for more than a year cause there is no good games coming a out for wii but ill wait and see what they show on E3 is they say something like fall 2012 im done im still not sure what to get a ps3 or xbox.

  8. @EA]AzT3cA:

    Well, I've read that a few times and think I've sussed out the meaty bits. While I agree that the Wii is a bit long in the tooth and is more of a GameCube 1.5, it's still a great system. Although FPS's are an area that it is lacking in and that you'll need to decide for yourself which of the HD fellas has what you need.

    As for the topic of the conduit, it's undeniable that COD has an effect though that may be overshadowed by the immaturity of both HVS and joystiq.

  9. @ KnucklesSonic8, Robert, and Chalgyr

    It's nice to know that there are a few people out there with a good head on their shoulders. In my opinion, it takes a certain level of maturity to realize the stupidity on all sides of this debate.

    @ EA]AzT3cA

    I disagree. I'm with Robert when he said that the Wii is still a great system.


  10. @GamesAndBiz:
    I didn't really know of HVS until The Conduit was being developed/promoted by them, so I don't know if they have a history of anything like this.
    The only thing I can tell is that it seems HVS has management issues, as for when it comes to finishing projects and pitching ideas(Gladiator A.D. getting changed to Tournament of Legends...?).

    "I, like you, am of the opinion that both companies, and their representatives, are at fault."
    Yea, HVS is the only one that's really admitted they did anything wrong, the reviewer spoke out and basically said HVS shouldn't have done it, and he hoped nobody forgets it...but he failed to acknowledge his review was trash and may have been the start of the problem.

    Also, no worries for lengthy responses, they're welcomed when adding to the conversation.

    I know you review a good bit of games, and I just think if HVS/Sega would skip the large sites like Joystiq(seriously, look at Joystiq's Wii section, it's HORRIBLE), and concentrate on distributing review copies to Wii owners like you, that enjoy the system...the game would have received better feedback.

    @Anonymous from May 23, 2011 @ 11:04PM:
    Well, the fact that email went out is the main issue, and negative "reviews" started popping up on the "reviewer's" book the same day as the email was sent at HVS.

    The whole issue is that it was one email sent from one guy at HVS, so for me to hold a grudge against the other guys that worked on the game, when Matt Corso may have had little hands-on development time with it, is a little hard for me to do so.
    Like you, I do want to play it, though not right now...backlog is still calling my name!

    Haha! Yea, I mean seriously, the fact this type of review was allowed to be published should make guys like you, GamesAndBiz, BitNick, KnucklesSonic8, and other bloggers that review games regularly, wonder why a site like Joystiq wouldn't be looking for better reviews/reviewers...

    "...I think the wii feels like a old gen console now..."
    Graphics wise perhaps to some, game-play wise no, at least not for FPS games for me. I prefer FPS games with Wii Remote and Nunchuk controls.

    Thank you all for the comments/feedback, I appreciate it! Also, if anybody else has any other thoughts, or some of you have thought of something else on this topic, feel free to add it to the comments.


Keep the comments clean. Rated "E" for Everyone. :)


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