Have Harmonix employees been caught leaving positive Rock Band 4 reviews on Amazon? [Update]

By Sherif Saed, Thursday, 22 October 2015 09:33 GMT

A number of staff at Rock Band 4 developer Harmonix have apparently been leaving positive reviews for their own game on Amazon.


Update: Harmonix has confirmed these were indeed the company’s employees posting the reviews in a statement sent to VG247.

“Harmonix has clarified its internal policy about posting reviews of our own products on retail sites, and we’ve asked that existing reviews be edited to identify Harmonix employees or be removed entirely. While we believe the reviews posted by a few employees were sincere and without ill intentions, as a studio we don’t believe these are appropriate actions. We appreciate the feedback from the community, and take our relationship with our fans seriously,” reads the statement.

Some reviews have now been updated to reflect that.

Original story: Rock Band 4 came out a couple of weeks ago to middling scores. Amazon reviews, however, are generally positive. We may now know why, in part.

It seems some of the verdicts were written by members of the development team at Harmonix. Reddit picked up on a few of them overnight and captured the full text for each. You can see the image below. A number of these posts now appear to have been removed.

Most of them were seemingly posted under the developers’ real names, and others simply under ‘Amazon Customer’. The Reddit OP claimed these were verified by checking wishlists.

The Reddit image highlights posts apparently made by Morgan Milado, Harmonix’s legal and music coordinator; Richard Cody, an audio QA; and Shawn Witt, lead character artist.

“We play Rock Band as a family, and the Freestyle Guitar Solo (in addition to being extremely fun for adults) is a great way to get young kids up and rocking. I’m excited that Harmonix is committed to the game as a platform, and can’t wait to see what the team adds to the game in the months to come,” wrote reviewer Chris Foster.

It’s impossible to know whether or not this is the same Chris Foster employed as a senior designer at the studio without clarification from Harmonix.

Other names implicated by the Reddit post include publishing associate Nick Mudry and project manager Matthew Nordhaus.

Skewing positive reviews on Amazon is done to increase a product’s discoverability, and affects many markets other than games. A mini-industry has sprung up dedicated to selling fake reviews to companies, usually related to book publishing, who are looking for a better product page. Amazon is even suing some of them.

We’ve reached out to Harmonix for comment.


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