Conduit 2 developer avenges poor review

conduit 2

In 2009 High Voltage Software and SEGA unleashed motion-controlled first-person shooter hell on the Wii with The Conduit. Two years later, the developer promised to have all the bugs worked out, the graphics polished, the side-spins all but eliminated in the "high-action sequel".

But upon the release of Conduit 2, reviewers were widely unconvinced. All seemed fine, as High Voltage had weathered the bad media storm before, but one harsh review by T. Michael Murdock of Joystiq was scathing enough to lift some developers’ brows. Perhaps the most egregious offense wasn’t the… ahem… below average score (1/5) or the phrase, "It’s not [fun], though. It’s really, really not," but the outright revealing of the game’s finale in the middle of the review.

Whatever shook the beehive had enough force to cause High Voltage Creative Director Matt Corso to send out an internal email containing a not-so-subtle piece of advice.

"Michael [Murdock] was kind enough to recently provide us with a Conduit 2 review," Corso said in the email, "And so in turn you should all 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."

Murdock’s book, "The Dragon Ruby", is a fiction fantasy novel written in conjunction with another author, J. Herschel Jeffrey, and is available on The book had received ten favorable reviews until, suddenly over the course of May 3 and 4, four new reviews popped up giving the book one out of five stars, one saying, "I had more fun reading the directions on a bottle of aspirin I had to take after going trough this below fan-fiction garbage Mr. Murdock calls a book." (Note the excellent spelling) Since becoming noticed by gaming media outlets, all but one of the four reviews has been rescinded.

While these reviews cannot be tied directly to employees of High Voltage, an insider in the company has confirmed that Corso did indeed send out the email and further inspection of one of the naysayer’s Amazon accounts reveals that he/she gave Conduit 2 a rating of five out of five stars. High Voltage employee Eric Nofsinger would like to emphasize that the email sent by Corso did urge the recipients to read Murdock’s book prior to reviewing it, but it seems the damage is already done.

This kind of event sends up a warning flag in the industry regarding developer/journalist relationships. Some developers and publishers tie bonus payments to Metacritic review scores (not necessarily High Voltage or SEGA), therefore binding the livelihood of one individual to the opinion of his/her work by another (a professional, to be sure). Perhaps this press relations crotch-shot will provide the steam developers need to lobby for compensation reform and untie the financial bind between creator and critic.

Likely, however, High Voltage will be scolded deftly by SEGA and the subjective system will continue to trudge onward, pouring more fuel onto the Metacritic fires.



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Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

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