Rock Band 4 launched a little over two weeks ago on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. While a strong marketing campaign may have been sufficient to generate the sales that Harmonix and Mad Catz were seeking, the former has been caught red-handed crossing an ethical boundary.
A Reddit user recently noticed what appeared to be a questionable review of the game on Amazon. Upon digging a bit more, the Redditor discovered more than half a dozen reviews posted by Harmonix employees.
How do we know they were Harmonix employees, you ask? Aside from the glowing five-star reviews that read more like a press release, the “reviewers” didn’t bother to create fake accounts. When your real name is tied to a review, it’s difficult to argue otherwise.
Harmonix has since come clean about the incident, issuing the following statement:
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.
Most of the reviews in question have since been removed although at least one has been updated to clarify it’s from someone who worked on the game.
As Engadget notes, both Harmonix and Mad Catz have a lot riding on the success of Rock Band 4. Over the summer, Mad Catz said its ability to avoid defaulting on its debt depends on its ability to increase net sales and gross profit considerably through anticipated sales of products related to Rock Band 4.