According to reports out of the Norwegian press, EA has been caught allegedly attempting to manipulate Battlefield 3's review scores by denying journalists who might treat the game unfavorably access to early copies.
Apparently, a select number of Norwegian gaming sites, including Gamer.no and Gamereactor.no, had their requests for early copies of Battlefield 3 met with a suspicious questionnaire.
As you can see, the list of questions starts off fairly benign, with a request for the reviewer's name and contact info, but quickly descends into murky territory with inquiries like "Has he expressed enthusiasm or concern for BF3?" and "Is he a fan of Battlefield?".
Perhaps more concerning are the questions about rival franchise Call of Duty, implying that EA is specifically scouting for reviewers who'll tell readers that Battlefield 3 is superior to Activision's bestselling franchise. Though surprising in its audacity, the move would be in line with the very hawkish public stance the publisher has taken while promoting Battlefield 3, which saw EA head John Ricciotello claim that he wanted Call of Duty to "rot from the core."
If this e-mail does in fact imply that EA Norway intended to withhold early copies of the game from those who view the franchise unfavorably, the implications are dangerous for game journalism. By attempting to control review scores, EA is ruining the press’s ability to provide independent and impartial recommendations to the public and rewarding those who sacrifice their journalistic integrity for access.
A spokesperson for EA Norway has issued an official apology to Dagbladet.no, claiming that the questionnaire was sent out as the product of human error and stating that the practice is not something the company intends to continue.