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Conduit 2 dev accused of trashing game reviewer's book

9:00 AM on 05.22.2011

Jim Sterling

Former Reviews Editor

Conduit 2 developer High Voltage stands accused of attempting to "Amazonbomb" a man's book in retaliation for a negative Conduit 2 review. Michael T. Murdock called Conduit 2 "appalling" and trashed the graphics, voice acting and story -- even revealing a big spoiler in order to tear it apart. 

High Voltage took notice, and art director Matt Corso thought it would be fun if the Conduit 2 team looked up Murdock's book, The Dragon Ruby, and provided a little criticism of their own via Amazon's user review system. 

"Michael was kind enough to recently provide us with a Conduit 2 review," said Corso in a staff email. "And so in turn you all should feel at liberty to (of course read it first) and then return the favor by writing a reader review for Michael’s book for him."

Such reviews were provided, though if it was an attempt to Amazonbomb, it was a bad one. Four reviews popped up, all at the same time, and one of them was quickly removed after the accusations started flying. Since the story broke this week, more negative reviews from trolls have popped up, but not enough to do much more damage.

High Voltage Chief Creative Officer Eric Nofsinger confirmed with Wired.com that Corso's email was genuine, but denied that it was a serious attempt to cause trouble. 

"I think he wrote it in a very tongue-in-cheek kinda way," he told Wired. "We would want to never attack anyone for their opinions on a game."

Corso said he didn't mean any harm, and sincerely wanted to check the book out: "My mind really wasn’t in that dark of a place when I wrote that. 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."

Meanwhile, Murdock isn't buying it, and thinks High Voltage is trying to backtrack. 

"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," stated the reviewer in an email to Wired. "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."

Whatever way you look at it, Murdock's been punished for giving his opinion of a videogame. Be it through High Voltage's chicanery or the trolls that have attempted to stir shit since the story blew up, a man's book was trashed not because of its quality, but because people were angry over a videogame review. That's pretty pathetic, whatever way you slice it. 

Makes me scared to finish my book ... available in all good stores soon!

Conduit 2 Developer Calls for Internal Retaliation Against Author of Negative Joystiq Review [Marooner's Rock]
Leaked E-Mail Suggests Retaliation for Negative Game Review [Wired]

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