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Assassin’s Creed: Origins’ suspicious Metacritic ratings

So this is interesting, and perhaps worthy of a bit of a signal boost. As most of us probably know Assassin’s Creed: Origins was released recently, to generally positive reception it had to be said. Today’s story is not so much about the game, however – rather, it’s about possible shady dealings going on surrounding its promotion online.

The source of this claim is Kotaku, so take from that what you will. That said, at least some of the evidence presented is compelling enough. According to a recent article the Metacritic pages for Assassin’s Creed: Origins were recently bombarded by a wave of suspicious reviews – ‘that’s nothing new for Metacritic’ I hear you cry, and you would be right dear reader. We saw ourselves in our last article that the Bubsy: Return of the Woolies Metacritic page had been hit either by fake reviews or fans of the bobcat driven beyond the point of sanity. A screenshot taken by Kotaku however seems to show an active campaign to replicate the same message across multiple accounts.

Metacritic boss Marc Doyle claimed the site’s moderators were working hard to clear up the repeated obviously shilling ‘10’ reviews. They seem to have been successful, since scanning through the game’s user reviews as they currently stand do not reveal any sign of the screenshot’s contents. The damage seems already done, however, with the User Score having dropped from an initial ~8.0 to a far less palatable (especially in this industry) 6.4. This however is simply parroting what Kotaku said, so let’s get to the real meat of this – was Ubisoft itself behind this shilling campaign?

Unless anyone comes forwards to spill the beans or intrepid hackers turn up anything, there’s no way to know for sure of course. I would not like to speculate all too much just in case by some odd chance Yves Guillemont sees this and takes umbrage. But as a simple thought exercise, take a look at the screenshot below;

4Chan’s /v/ board is not exactly a haven of intellectual discussion (except perhaps concerning anime waifus) at the best of times, but there’s a similarity in the rhetoric all posted at the same time that raises eyebrows. In these highly-politicised times, you would not be blamed for looking at these posts and seeing someone attempt to rouse up controversy about the game purely to get discussion going. It worked, after all. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, the saying goes – and if such apparently counter-productive online tactics designed to generate discussion and online awareness were used once, they could always be used again.

In the end, I can’t prove that Ubisoft was behind these bizarre posts that filled up the Assassin’s Creed: Origins Metacritic user rankings. But I also can’t prove that they weren’t. And that, if nothing else, is reason enough to ask the question.

Jordan Green View All

At age seven, Jordan wanted to be a paleontologist. That went well. He now fills the void by writing on all manner of mildly-interesting topics - when he finds time in between complaining how everything was better in the 'good old days', that is.