Batman V Superman’s Bad Reviews Might Upset You

With superheroes taking over everything from our hearts to the big screens, the public thinking and their reviews impact people. It would seem though that bad reviews may affect the actors more than you originally review.

In its opening weekend Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has started its universe with a whopping $245m internationally and $170 million in the US alone, coming in the top 10 openings of all time in North America at number 6. The film has been received quite mixed, though, with initial “you must see this!” and “it’s amazing” comments being shadowed by the publics “overhyped” comments that have come out since its release.

One thing people don’t think about when writing a review is the feeling of the actors and the people who put their effort into creating the final project, and it would seem that Ben Affleck during an interview with Yahoo was unable to hide his emotions and upset at the reviews as well as others. In the below video someone had made sure that we notice the upset that Affleck seems to have regarding the reviews that were part of a “mixed response”.

If you were interested in what Henry Carville was saying during the emotional music, you can find a full snippet of this interview below.

With DC’s hopes that this will start off their Justice League franchise, have they done enough to win over the audience or are the negative reviews showing that our expectations for superhero films are a little higher than they had hoped? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, but please no spoilers!

Call of Duty: Black Ops III Plagued by Performance Problems

Call of Duty: Black Ops III has finally been released and early reports suggest it’s a technical mess on PC. A large number of the Steam Reviews describe the latest COD entry as “unoptimized” which struggles to achieve a smooth frame-rate. Unfortunately, it seems the game is marred by stuttering, sudden frame drops and micro-stutter. Even on top-tier hardware, the performance is atrocious and should be avoided until patches are released to help rectify these major problems:

The general consensus is remarkably similar to early testing conducted by TechPowerUp which indicates the game utilizes a ridiculous amount of system memory and VRAM. During their initial benchmarks, a GTX 980 Ti was monitored and almost used 6GB VRAM under load, and system RAM reached a maximum utilization of 12GB. Even more concerning, when the GPU was swapped with a Titan X, the engine started to increase the VRAM usage up to 8GB. Apparently, the game runs much smoother on a GTX Titan X compared to the 980 TI which can only be a result of memory differences.

This is extremely disappointing as a spokesperson prior to release discussed improved mouse controls, a GPU bound-engine and low CPU overheads. Clearly, this isn’t an accurate reflection as people are experiencing major problems on lower threaded CPUs. An official statement reads:

Call of Duty: Black Ops III is the perfect example of why you should be very suspicious when pre-ordering video games.

Google Engineer Goes to War Against Bad USB Type-C Cables

The new USB Type-C standard has been adopted by many laptop and smartphone manufacturers this year for its superior power and data transfer capacities – with the added bonus that, unlike previous USB cables, there is no top or bottom – including Google’s Pixel laptops and tablets. However, it seems that many cheaper USB Type-C cables do not meet the official 1.1 specifications, and one man in particular is as mad as Hell and is not going to take this any more.

Benson Leung, a Google engineer who works on the company’s Pixel range of computers, has been testing USB Type-C cables found on Amazon, and he’s been left disappointed by their performance. Faults such as poor wiring or not being 3A compatible means that many of the cables on sale are not worthy of certification, and Leung has been leaving product reviews that make this abundantly clear to prospective customers.

Leung left the following two-star review of the TechMatte USB-C to MicroUSB adapter:

“I’m a Software Engineer on the Chrome OS team at Google on the Chromebook Pixel and Pixel C teams.

I bought these two USB-C to Micro USB adapters from TechMatte and found they do not work properly with the Chromebook Pixel.

Upon closer inspection by our engineering team here, we have determined that this adapter is not correctly following the USB Type C specification.

The specification can be found here :
http://www.usb.org/developers/docs/usb_31_102015.zip

Specifically, these adapters do not charge the Chromebook Pixel 2015 because the adapters leave the C-C lines floating, where the specification requires a Rp pullup to Vbus to identify the cable as a legacy adapter or cable.

Please see the document named “USB Type-C Specification Release 1.1.pdf”
section 4.5.3.2.4 for a description of why the Rp pullup is necessary.

Please also see Section 4.11 and the following note :
1. For Rp when implemented in the USB Type-C plug on a USB Type-C to USB 3.1 Standard-A Cable
Assembly, a USB Type-C to USB 2.0 Standard-A Cable Assembly, a USB Type-C to USB 2.0 Micro-B
Receptacle Adapter Assembly or a USB Type-C captive cable connected to a USB host, a value of 56 k’
± 5% shall be used, in order to provide tolerance to IR drop on V BUS and GND in the cable assembly.

In other words, since you are creating a USB Type-C plug to a USB 2.0 Micro-B receptacle assembly, you must use a resistor of value 56k’ as a pullup to Vbus. This cable does not do this.

Please let me know if there is any more information I can provide about why these adapters are problematic.”

Leung’s full Amazon review history can be found here, and it’s certainly worth referring to if you’re in the market for a new USB Type-C cable, especially as the engineer does give five-star reviews to the products that deserve it.

Image courtesy of Stuff.tv.

Otherland Developer Denies Claims Regarding “Hundreds of Fake Paid Reviews”

Otherland is an MMO by Drago Entertainment which launched via Steam’s early access programme and has a pretty dismal reputation among fans. Sadly, the game has suffered from bugs, and failed to live up to people’s expectations. Personally, I cannot comment on the game as I don’t own it, but the general consensus seems quite negative. Today, a number of strong allegations were targeted at the developer which claimed they had planted “hundreds of fake paid reviews” on Steam. This was allegedly done to falsely make the game seem more appealing throughout the community.

Specialist site, MMOs discussed the supposedly paid for reviews and their CEO said:

“Well it turns out that most of these user reviews are without a shred of a doubt fake. It doesn’t take a genius to realize these reviews are fake, as most of the positive reviews are left by users with “0.0 hours on record” and users that left no other reviews on Steam. What’s funny is that ALL of these fake positive reviews are in completely broken nonsensical English.”

The writer went onto analyze why they believe Drago Entertainment employed such unscrupulous tactics:

“It’s clear that the folks behind Otherland are disappointed with the game’s reception on Steam and are trying to boost sales in an incredibly shady way. As of this writing, the game only has 18 players online with a 30-day average of 8.2. The game is clearly a commercial flop and Drago Entertainment is trying anything and everything to get people to try the game. I mean, if you’re going to try to trick your customers into buying your game, you might as well spend a little bit more and get your fake reviews written by native English speakers. As is, these fake reviews are embarrassing for Drago Entertainment and won’t fool anyone who spends a couple of minutes checking out the reviews. More casual users though might be roped into buying the game if they only look at the “mostly positive” score on the game’s Steam page, which is unfortunate, as the game is pretty terrible.”

“This kind of deceptive marketing / manipulation of user reviews shouldn’t be allowed. Steam needs to take action and take these downs, as no one should be tricked into buying this game. I think Steam should just boot this game off the platform for trying to trick their customers, but that’s just my opinion. What do you think? Do you know any other games that use paid reviews on Steam to boost their sales?”

Given the serious nature of these claims, the developer released an official response on the Steam Discussion forum:

Although the owner of MMOs wasn’t impressed with their response and remarked:

“Are they serious? Are they claiming that the users they gave free keys to left these nonsensical “reviews”? This isn’t a one/two review thing, there are over a HUNDRED of these obviously fake reviews all blindly praising the game IN BROKEN ENGLISH. I’m not buying their story. Did they only give beta keys to people who spoke broken English? I think they got caught and came up with a terrible excuse. It’s possible that a couple of individuals at the developer’s office thought this was a good idea and acted on their own, but the payment had to be approved. People don’t leave fake reviews for free.”

This is a tricky situation as no-one categorically knows if the reviews were paid for apart from the developer. However, making such wild accusations without consulting the developer is only going to end in tears. I honestly don’t know who is telling the truth here, but it emphasizes how untrustworthy many reviews can be. Evidently, the time played is minimal and looks suspicious. On the other hand, many community reviews quickly click to the approve button on launch to make themselves feel better about their purchase.

As an individual, it’s perfectly fine to criticize a developer and make claims. However, if you are a journalist or work for a published site, any comments can be seen as slander and result in legal action. I want to reiterate that I’m not holding the blame on anyone here, but sites have to be so careful when making assertions even if the evidence looks quite legit. This entire situation raises questions about Steam reviews, and how the media investigates developers who are apparently overstretching their ethical responsibilities.

Harmonix Staff Have Been Posting Positive Reviews of Rock Band 4 on Amazon

Rock Band 4 has received fairly positive critical acclaim although the user-response is quite mixed. In the last few years, community media via Twitch, Steam Reviews and Amazon Reviews have helped inform consumers when deliberating a game purchase. Many are distrustful of the mainstream gaming print media, and prefer to listen to first-hand experiences from early adopters. In a completely audacious move, members of the Rock Band development team have been leaving positive reviews on Amazon for a game they help create. Clearly, their own opinion is biased and skewed the Amazon reviews in a completely unfair manner. Destructoid investigated three leading reviews on Amazon and outlined their key roles at Harmonix.

In lieu of this damning evidence, Harmonix released a statement which reads:

“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.”

Disclosure helps in this situation, but I’m baffled why these team members thought giving their opinion was a good idea in the first place. Even with this disclosure, people will find it difficult to take their opinion seriously. Matthew Nordhaus added this piece of information to his original 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.”

I’m not entirely sure if this explanation sounds like a passionate plea or marketing exercise. Whatever the case, I’m glad this has been investigated and everything has been properly disclosed. Although, this was clearly going to happen and provides a lesson to any publisher out there who tries to pull a similar stunt.

Amazon is Suing 1114 ‘Fake Reviewers’

Amazon has filed a lawsuit in Seattle, Washington to tackle a number of “false, misleading and inauthentic” reviews. The reviews in question are paid for by sellers to make their products look more appetizing. According to Amazon, the 1,114 defendants, referred to as “John Does” provides a false review service for as little as $5 (£3.24) on the website Fiverr.com, Once payment has been made, products will receive fake 5 star ratings.

Clearly, this skews the genuine reception of each product and hurts the consumer. As a result, Amazon has made this their top priority and said:

“While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand,”

“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate,”

This kind of fraudulent activity could increase the sales of poor value products, and deceive customers. Therefore, once the item arrives and is of a disappointing quality, Amazon has to deal with the returns process. This can be a costly endeavor and also discourages people from purchasing items in the near future.

Have you encountered any problems when buying products from Amazon sellers?

Metal Gear Solid V Reviews Conducted Under Konami Supervision

Metal Gear Solid V’s embargo has finally been lifted and the game is receiving astonishing high acclaim including perfect 10/10 scores. However, evidence disclosed by GamesRadar provides an insight into the review process which imposed a number of clear restrictions. The journalist assigned to Metal Gear Solid V said:

“For fear of spoilers, Konami invited journalists to review the game at five-day ‘boot camps’ tied to strict NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). We played between 9am to 5pm, with no unsupervised play outside these hours.”

“That’s a maximum play time of 40 hours, assuming no stoppages for eating, drinking, stretching… or reality. So you’re trying to complete a 35-50 hour game (or longer, depending on your play style and the nature of your ‘completion’… I can’t say more), that you’ve been anticipating for five years, in a realistic window of 30-35 hours.”

“On one hand, you’re finally immersed in one of the deepest, most experimental, open-worlds in history – overwhelmed by side-missions, upgrades and secrets – on the other, haunted by a tick-tock race to reach the ‘end’ without knowing when that is.”

Honestly, I don’t feel very comfortable about only allowing reviews to occur under close watch. While, I’m sympathetic toward Konami’s position and acknowledge they are trying to protect the game’s story, you cannot conduct reviews in such a closed manner. Gaming journalists are extremely distrusted by consumers and events like this will do little to alleviate people’s perceptions.

In a similar vein to QA testing, the experience of playing a game watched by its creators, means you are less inclined to express criticism. I do believe Metal Gear Solid V will be a classic, but the reviews could be quite hyperbolic in nature due to the “boot camp” setup.

Do you feel slightly misled by the Metal Gear V review strategy?

Thank you GamesRadar for providing us with this information.

AMD Fury X: What We Know so Far

Sadly, due to problematic stock levels in the EU; we weren’t able to get ourselves one of the new Fiji based graphics cards. However, that isn’t going to stop us commenting on the card.

When the card was first announced, people on both AMD and NVIDIA benches sat forward, somewhat worried about what High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) could bring to the graphics market. It is a new technology, so the results could have gone either way. It promised lower power consumption, a smaller footprint, and massive bandwidth gains compared to traditional GDDR5 memory.

As time progressed, we had snippets of information released to us in the forms of charts and pictures. In one hand, the Fury range stacked up to offer outstanding performance, in the other, the results leaked looked too good to be true.

The renders that were coming in looked amazing, a short card with a AIO water cooling set up, it ticked all of the right boxes and thankfully, AMD delivered what we all wanted.

So what about actual performance? Earlier today we caught a leaked review showing that the performance was somewhere on par with the NVIDIA GTX Titan X. Now that more reviews are available, it seems that it is more on par with the NVIDIA GTX 980Ti, although the performance difference between those two cards is marginal.

Let’s take a look at what some of our friends around the world thought of the new card.

HardOCP released one of the first on time reviews and this quote really struck a cord with us here at eTeknix:

“The new AMD Fiji GPU and Fury X video card looks awesome on paper, but has underwhelmed and disappointed us when it comes to real world gameplay. The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X feels like a proof of concept for HBM technology.”

Sadly, you can provide the numbers, but if the actual performance isn’t there; it won’t work out. AMD have a tendency to provide huge numbers such as utilising a 512bit interface on the R9 290 and 290x graphics cards and still plummeting compared to what NVIDIA had to offer.

The editor at Toms Hardware wrote:

“There, sitting alongside Nvidia’s gaming champion, Radeon R9 Fury X now shares the throne. It’s not faster, it’s not cheaper and it’s certainly not any more elegant. The card is just enough to yield a bit of parity. And for the AMD faithful, that’s enough to warrant a purchase. We have to wonder if the company stopped just short of the gold, though. More speed, a lower price, some sort of game bundle—it could have gone in several directions, really, to convince enthusiasts that Fury X is the better buy.”

From reading many reviews, we know that it is not quite the Titan X killer that AMD set out to produce, it tumbles with the GTX 980Ti. However, for AMD to release a card with matching performance around the same time as NVIDIA, this be a step to a more competitive future.

Despite the overall loss against the Titan X, some review sites are still awarding the Fury X the highest possible award; do you think this is a fair representation or could another award be used in its place? Here at eTeknix, if we had the card in our hands and based off of what we’ve seen we think that the AMD Fury X would deserve an Innovation award thanks to the incorporation of High-Bandwidth Memory, but that’s about it. Check out our awards here and comment what you think would best suit.

Apple Watch Reviewed

Reviewers have gotten their hands on the new Apple Watch – the company’s first unique hardware in five years, launching this coming Friday – and the consensus is a firm thumbs up. The Apple Watch is entering an already competitive market, populated by a family of Android Wear devices, such as the Samsung Gear, and by all accounts it blows away the competition, returning Apple’s mantle of creating the must-have device.

Joshua Topolsky from Bloomberg suggests the Apple Watch has an addictive quality, and that it was even designed that way, saying, “Yes, all these new functions, notifications, and tapping do make the Apple Watch very distracting. In some ways, it can be more distracting than your iPhone, and checking it can feel more offensive to people around you than pulling out your phone. The watch wants and needs you now, as its insistent taps make painfully clear. And to see what the Apple Watch wants and needs, you must physically move it into view. If while you’re talking to someone, you check your regular watch, it can feel as if you’re sending a not-so-subtle “let’s wrap this up” message. With the Apple Watch, factoring in the animated wrist-whip and the length of some of the notifications you receive, it’s downright rude.”

But Re/code’s Lauren Goode claims that the device is likely to appeal only to existing iPhone users, as the watch is made to complement it. Goode writes, “From a technology standpoint, it is an extension of the iPhone. And just like the smartphone, it starts to change your habits over time.”

A common theme across reviews is that the Apple Watch is the pinnacle of smartwatch technology, but doubts remain about just how useful smartwatches are as a concept. Nilay Patel of The Verge sums it up well, writing, It is one of the most ambitious products I’ve ever seen; it wants to do and change so much about how we interact with technology. But that ambition robs it of focus: it can do tiny bits of everything, instead of a few things extraordinarily well. For all of its technological marvel, the Apple Watch is still a smartwatch, and it’s not clear that anyone’s yet figured out what smartwatches are actually for.”

It may not be as intuitive as Apple’s other products, a quality the company is famed for, but Farad Manjoo of The New York Times reckons that learning the device’s interface is worth it, writing, “Unlike previous breakthrough Apple products, the Watch’s software requires a learning curve that may deter some people. There’s a good chance it will not work perfectly for most consumers right out of the box, because it is best after you fiddle with various software settings to personalize use. Indeed, to a degree unusual for a new Apple device, the Watch is not suited for tech novices. It is designed for people who are inundated with notifications coming in through their phones, and for those who care to think about, and want to try to manage, the way the digital world intrudes on their lives.”

Not everyone had positive things to say about the smartwatch, however. The Verge bemoans its speed, calling the Apple Watch “kind of slow.” The reviewer adds, “There’s no getting around it, no way to talk about all of its interface ideas and obvious potential and hints of genius without noting that sometimes it stutters loading notifications. Sometimes pulling location information and data from your iPhone over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi takes a long time. Sometimes apps take forever to load, and sometimes third-party apps never really load at all. Sometimes it’s just unresponsive for a few seconds while it thinks and then it comes back.”

So, the verdict is in: the Apple Watch is a great piece of tech, but is as superfluous as other smartwatches, might deter current Apple users with its tricky interface, and is suffering from early software niggles.

TripAdvisor Fined in Italy Due to Misleading Reviews

TripAdvisor has received a hefty fine from the Italian government for misleading reviews. The popular website must pay $611,842 to the The Italian Competition Authority. The authority said that the website failed to implement sufficient measures to prevent fake reviews while advertising the site as a source of “authentic and genuine” assessments from people who have actually visited the places in question.

“Our systems and procedures are extremely efficient in protecting consumers from a small minority of people who try to con our system.” – TripAdvisor.

Even though the ruling was the result of a lengthy investigation, TripAdvisor has declared that it will appeal the ruling. They currently have 3 months to implement changes to their website in accordance with the Italian regulators.

Source: BBC News Via: The Next Web

Leave a Bad Review, Get Fined £100

A British couple have been ‘fined’ £100 after leaving a bad review on TripAdvisor about a hotel they visited.

Tony and Jan Jenkinson visited the hotel in Blackpool for one night and were unimpressed with their stay. Like many of us, they vented their frustration on TripAdvisor, only to find that £100 had later been taken from their credit card. It turned out that the hotel had been using the line “for every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review” in their small print, something the Jenkinson’s didn’t read.

It’s not yet clear if the hotel in question, the Broadway Hotel, has done this to any guests previously, but that still does not take away from this shocking tactic to prevent bad reviews. Trading Standards are investigating and have suggested that it may be illegal. Councillor John McCreesh, cabinet member for trading standards told the BBC, “Hotel owners should focus on getting their service right rather than shutting down aggrieved customers with threats and fines.”

Source: BBC News

Lionsgate Unleash Lawyers after Expendables 3 Pre-Release Leak

So the new Expendables 3 film has appeared online weeks before it’s theatrical release date of August 15th 2014. The film first leaked online on July 24th, as you can imagine Lionsgate are pretty peed off about this. They have unleashed their lawyers and are trying to track down the anonymous leaker, as well as trying to find him/her they are targeting the websites that are sharing the film online. limetorrents.com, billionuploads.com, hulfile.eu, played.to, swantshare.com and dotsemper.com are all being looked into by the legal division at Lionsgate.

The film cost $90 million to make and according to pre release reviews, it’s garbage, just like the previous two films. The studio has insisted that it keeps the film to a family friendly PG-13 rating, this means that there won’t be swearing, half naked women, explosions, drugs, fast cars, good actors, any sounds whatsoever, no special effects and not even a script. Okay, maybe that was sarcasm but if you want my advice, just watch the 10 hour loop of Batman on Drugs, waaaaaay better. So in a way, this leaking online has saved us from wasting our money in the cinema and wasting about 90 minutes of our time watching a pile of crap. Thanks to the pirates everywhere who made this possible, without you, I might of wasted £10 in my local cinema.

Thanks to Tweaktown for supplying us with this information.

Image courtesy of Tweaktown.

KlearGear Ordered to Pay £180,000 to Customers That Posted Negative Review Online

John and Jen Palmer were awarded $306,750 (£180,122) by Judge Dee Benson in the U.S. District Court in Utah, following a legal case that stemmed from a bad review posted on RipOffReport.com.

The couple criticized KlearGear’s customer service, stating they ordered two items that never arrived in the mail.  The small order cost less than $20 (£12) and they canceled the transaction once they realized the items were never shipped.  A few years after the review was posted, KlearGear demanded $3,500 (£2,055) for the published negative review, and then ruined John Palmer’s credit after they refused to pay.

KlearGear’s actions led the Palmers to lose credit opportunities, and they actually spent a few weeks in their home without heat because the furnace broke and they were unable to secure a loan to replace it.

Trying to collect the money will be a different battle, however, as the couple’s attorney begins to work out the next step in their ongoing legal drama.  Here is what Scott Michelman, Public Citizen advocacy group attorney said:

“We have been taking this case one step at a time.  Now we’re going to be figuring out where KlearGear’s assets are and how we can collect them.  The French company that appears now to own KlearGear made a series of statements to the media in which they attacked this lawsuit and me in particular, but they never made any kind of motion to the court, so there was nothing for the court to rule on as far as their objections were concerned.”

There are accusations from Descoteaux Boutiques (DBS), KlearGear’s parent company, saying the Palmers were “belligerent” towards the company’s customer support staff – and demanded free merchandise, otherwise they would try to defame the company.

Businesses have become more protective of their online reputations, with customers often submitting anonymous reviews on sites such as Yelp.  There have been legal proceedings that tend to end in favor of the reviewer – and not the business – but U.S. courts have become accustomed to hearing both sides and determining any motives from both parties.

Thank you to Ars Technica for providing us with this information

Steam Reviews Now Available In Latest Beta

Valve have announced the beta launch of Steam Reviews, a features that will add more ways for Steam users to share their experiences with others and make more informed purchase decisions. Users considering a purchase on Steam may now browse reviews from friends and the community, leave comments on reviews, and indicate which reviews they found helpful.

Once a user has played a game or used a software title on Steam, they are able to write a review of that product and share their experience with everyone on Steam.

Steam Reviews is an evolution of the Recommendation system that has been a part of Steam since 2010. Over the past few years, Steam users have written over 7 million Recommendations of games and software to their friends. Those Recommendations have been upgraded to Steam Reviews. As such, users may now choose to make their past Recommendations visible as Reviews to everyone on Steam, if they wish, by visiting their list of Reviews and changing the settings accordingly.

Steam Reviews is currently in open beta, accessible to any Steam user.

It’s a great way to expand on the information users can share on the service and will go a long way to helping people pick the games that are right for them without having to rely on information from outside of the serivce.

You can find more information on these new features at www.steampowered.com/reviews

Thank you Steam for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Steam.