Leave the astroturfing to Ground Force
[Update: We have received this statement from Harmonix, acknowledging the reviews were from its employees:
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.
Some of the reviews listed below have been updated to include the fact they helped make the game, such as this addition from Matthew Nordhaus on his review:
I added this review half in jest (as you might be able to tell from the tone of the original). In hindsight, it's probably important that I note that I worked on the game and work for Harmonix. That being said, I'm confident that if I didn't I would still give the game five stars. It's a beautiful, peaceful, cooperative game, rare enough already in today's landscape, that I can play with my wife and kids. Music discovery, playing with your family and friends, and cooperation make Rock Band my favorite.
So now we know this was not Guitar Hero publisher Activision, or anonymous Internet trolls, as has been suggested by some since the news went out.]
Rock Band 4 has been out for a few weeks now. Various sites have their reviews, players have been giving their own verdicts, and we’ve got a rough idea of how good the game really is. However, for those who aren’t as involved in games (such as parents buying them for their children in the run-up to Christmas), sites like Amazon tend to be the only place they’ll get feedback on how a game is before buying it.
It looks like Harmonix has caught on to that, as a rumour posted on reddit claims various employees at the studio have been posting five-star reviews of the game on the Amazon listing for Rock Band 4.
When I went to go and verify this for myself, it appears as though some of the reviews had already been deleted. However, I managed to catch three of them for myself, which you can see in the image below.
Now, this might just be the biggest coincidence in the world. People with the same names as those involved in Rock Band 4, posting very, very positive reviews of it could just be a funny bit of luck. But when you consider a lot is riding on the success of the game for both Harmonix and peripheral maker MadCatz, it does begin to look a bit dodgy.
We have contacted Harmonix for a statement on this, and will update if we get one.