Update, 17th July: Kieron's review is now live.
Yesterday Eurogamer MMO published a review of Darkfall Online, scoring the game 2/10.
Several hours later, after a bit of email discussion, Aventurine responded on its forum, claiming the review was factually inaccurate and the reviewer had played the game for only two hours.
As I said to Tasos Flambouras from Aventurine yesterday, I take any feedback on our reviews - and especially this kind of response - extremely seriously. However, I disagree with Flambouras' depiction of events.
The reviewer in question, Ed Zitron, disputes the server logs that Aventurine presents as fact. According to the logs they supplied, Ed played the game for just over three hours. Ed says the logs miss out two crucial days and understate others, which suggests they are incomplete, and he insists he played the game for at least nine hours.
I did tell Flambouras - as he writes on the forum - that Ed is a contributor rather than a staff writer, but the implication is that I said this to distance Ed from Eurogamer. This is wrong. Ed Zitron has my full support.
As I told Flambouras, Ed's references and background are immaculate, as many PC Zone readers will attest. I also do not believe server logs are incontrovertible proof of the scenario Aventurine describes. Aventurine says Ed's response is a "lie", and demanded that I take down the review and issue a retraction, but I can't do that on the basis of the evidence presented.
Speaking as someone who hasn't played the game, questions of factual accuracy are more difficult for me to quantify (although the review thread has a crack, and you should read it if you're interested). It's also hard to judge from a distance whether two, nine or 50 hours would be appropriate to review Darkfall, as this clearly varies enormously from game to game.
That said, the passion with which Aventurine has attacked Ed's review is considerable, and the allegations obviously go a long way beyond arguing the toss. With this in mind, it seems only fair to take another look at Darkfall to supplement the review we've already published.
I've already contacted another one of our PC writers, Kieron Gillen, who has agreed to review Darkfall. Kieron is a vastly experienced, award-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of Rock, Paper, Shotgun. I'll publish his review as soon as it's ready, and we will see whether he agrees with Ed or not.
It's safe to say that we've learned some lessons from this episode, and they will be beneficial when it comes to future reviews. In the meantime, any and all discussion of the subject on the forums and comments threads is fine. Just as game developers have to deal with the response to their work, so too do we, and you've every right to criticise and debate it.