Conduit 2 developer High Voltage Software has apologised for asking its staff to review a book written by an author who awarded the Wii-exclusive shooter one star out of five.
HVS boss Eric Nofsinger admitted that an internal email from staffer Matt Corso calling for his colleagues to review T. Michael Murdock's The Dragon Ruby on Amazon was "a tad unprofessional".
Murdock savaged Conduit 2 in his Joystiq review, labelling it "appalling".
"I thought you might like to know that Joystiq reviewer Michael T Murdock (sic) has a book that he wrote available on Amazon," wrote Corso. "It looks to have had decent reviews based on six reader's feedback.
"Michael was kind enough to recently provide us with a Conduit 2 review, and so in turn you all should feel at liberty to (of course read it first) and then return the favour by writing a reader review for Michael's book for him."
"Matt Corso did indeed write that internal email, however if you read the email he encourages folks to read Mike's book and then write their own review in a 'turn-about is fairplay' sort of way," Nofsinger told Marooner's Rock.
"The email went to 70+ people on the list contains nothing slanderous or inflammatory; I believe people took it as such (the fact that there aren't 70 negative reviews would support that assumption). Sure, it's a tad unprofessional but if you knew Matt personally as I do, you would know it was nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek jibe at most. And for that, I apologize on behalf of High Voltage Software."
Corso also responded. "My mind really wasn't in that dark of a place when I wrote that," he said. "In fact I seriously considered buying the book myself. I wanted to know how good it really was that this guy felt so in the right to trash our game and give away the ending like he did. And then post a plug to his book at the end, implying that we suck and he is totally great. Then I forgot about it, and got busy with other stuff. But I can see why some people might try to read more into this. But I did mention that people should read the book before giving a review.
"My point is: I did want you to know we don't hold a grudge against reviewers for their opinions. We learn through critique."
Speaking to Wired, Murdock accused HVS of "lunacy".
"They don't honestly care about what happened, and they're trying to get their hands out of the cookie jar before they get smacked," Murdock said.
"They simply have no remorse for what they've done, and they think the industry and everyone else will just laugh it off. I hope that doesn't happen. A game company shouldn't just keep shooting themselves in the foot, hoping their limp goes away."