Eidos's British PR firm, Barrington Harvey, has issued a statement on the subject of UK Tomb Raider: Underworld reviews after it came to light this afternoon that sites had been requested to not publish score for the game lower than 80 percent until Monday, three days after it goes on sale.
The story arose after Gamespot UK journalist Guy Cocker wrote on his Twitter on Wednesday that he had been told that, "If you’re planning on reviewing Tomb Raider Underworld at less than an 8.0, we need you to hold your review till Monday.”
VG247 then contacted Barrington Harvey to be told by a rep: “That’s right. We’re trying to manage the review scores at the request of Eidos.”
When asked why, the spokesperson said: “Just that we’re trying to get the Metacritic rating to be high, and the brand manager in the US that’s handling all of Tomb Raider has asked that we just manage the scores before the game is out, really, just to ensure that we don’t put people off buying the game, basically.”
The following statement is from Simon Byron, one of Barrington Harvey's directors. In its entirety:
Barrington Harvey is not in the position of telling reviewers what they can and cannot say. We love Tomb Raider and believe it merits a score of at least 8/10, but if someone disagrees that's entirely their prerogative. No problem at all. Seriously: no problem.
Our original NDA stated that in order to receive an advance copy of the game, reviewers agreed not to post reviews ahead of 5:00pm, Wednesday 19th November 2008. Nothing else. No further obligations whatsoever.
As you can clearly see from the scores posted so far, Barrington Harvey has no issue with scores of below eight out of 10 being posted online. The Eurogamer review in questions caused "problems" in so much as it originally contained a couple of minor factual inaccuracies which, to its credit, the site has quickly rectified and addressed (without, quite rightly, changing the context of the review).
Any site, be it Gamespot or whoever, is entirely within their rights to post whatever score they want and no-one is under any sort of obligation to delay any review.
As an ex-journalist myself, I firmly believe in editorial integrity and the right to express an individual opinion. As an agency, we never - ever - make demands of the press in terms of awarding scores; at the end of the day, they are free to score as they wish.
Barrington Harvey has been working hard to ensure the launch scores of Tomb Raider Underworld are in line with our internal review predictions over the launch weekend - but to suggest that we can in some way "silence" reviews of the game is slightly overstating our influence.
Tomb Raider: Underworld releases today for Xbox 360 and PS3.