The lights are on
According to many user reviews, the recently released Jerry Rice and Nitus' Dog Football is a surprise hit. Unless, of course, those "user reviews" are actually just marketing people falsely inflating the rating and misleading would-be buyers.
The suspicious user reviews (which I stumbled upon thanks to a thread on NeoGAF) surfaced on both GameStop and Amazon. Both pages are still up as of this writing, but in case they go down, I grabbed some evidence here and here.
On both sites, all of the reviews – which are full of accolades and hit on key marketing points like dog variety, family friendliness, and how to unlock Jerry Rice – are written by users that have never written a review before and don't seem to participate in the sites otherwise.
Choice quotes include:
"I'm typically a core gamer but I bought this game for my niece and
nephew since we hang out nearly every weekend and sometimes I get worn
out and I wanted something to occupy their time but allowed me to just
sit back and relax."
"I'm not a gamer but between its easy to operate controls(5 year old can
pick it up and play, which he does) and the huge variety if dogs,
fields, quarterbacks, types of balls(does a rubber duck count as a
ball?) etc.. you can even dress your dogs up and unlock additional
The dogs can interact with nearly anything on the field."
"My kids are playing this game and looks
like they'll have a little while before they play as Jerry Rice. I
haven't seen any characters named Holly yet, as a previous reviewer
mentioned, so I guess more gaming to keep them occupied, after homework
is done, of course"
Is it possible that all of these lurkers suddenly came out from the shadows in order to sing the praises of a dog football game? Sure, it's possible. But not likely. Remember: Dog. Football.
User reviews are for real people to share real opinions, not to have shills posing as consumers in order to deceive customers. The practice is just plain unethical, if it is indeed what's going on here. Either way, my guess is that it won't make a difference, because you weren't going to buy a dog football game anyway, were you?
[GameStop is the parent company of Game Informer]
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.