Atari Sues over Negative Alone in the Dark Review, Accuses Reviewer of Piracy (Updated)

By Aaron Linde, Jun 20, 2008 3:03pm PDT Update: staffer Erwin Bergervoet has informed Shacknews that Atari also asked the Dutch gaming site to pull its 5/10 review of Alone in the Dark posted Thursday, a day before the game's official European street date.

"Within an hour [after posting], Atari called to have the review pulled off, claiming there was an embargo till Friday," Bergervoet said in a comment to Shacknews. "Our review copy was sent directly to us by Atari and [was] not a pirated copy. They explicitly told [] that they only let high scoring reviews break the post-release embargo date."

Original Story: Atari has filed suit against German gaming website 4Players for publishing a negative pre-release review of Alone in the Dark, alleging that it was written based on an illegally obtained copy of the game.

According to a 4Players editorial spotted by Game|Life, Atari's lawsuit claims that the publication date of the review—which scored Xbox 360 version of the game at 68%—implies that it was written based upon a pirated or preview version of the title. Consequently, Atari seeks an undisclosed amount in restitution.

The Xbox 360 version of Alone in the Dark began appearing on file sharing websites earlier this week, prior to the publication of any online reviews. However, 4Players argued in its editorial that it procured a copy through a retail connection who sold them a copy of Eden Games' horror shooter before the game's European June 20 street date.

Though Atari's suit against 4Players marks the company's first legal action regarding early reviews of the game, the company has also leveled complaints at several other European gaming sites.

Going by a Kotaku report, a 3/10 review of the game on Scandinavian games site GameReactor was pulled shortly after it hit the website. Atari accused the site of pirating the game, stating that press copies had only been sent out a day previously.

Norwegian gaming site also claims that it was asked to remove its 3/10 review of the title based on a copy purchased at a retailer earlier this week.

"Atari contacted us just minutes after it was published, claiming that our review is probably based on a preview or pirated copy, and requested it to be removed," said's Tor-Steinar Nastad Tangedal. "We never removed it, of course."

The PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and Wii editions of Alone in the Dark hit North American retailers on June 24. A PlayStation 3 version is expected this fall.

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28 Threads | 89 Comments

  • Am I the only person terrified at the ramifications this latest salvo against journalistic integrity will have on the continued mixture of payola/blackmail that is the world of gaming reviews today?

    Seriously, your ability to succeed as a website hinges on your ability to have reviews out on day one if not earlier. Your ability have early reviews is dependent on receiving advance copies from the publisher. Now, your ability to get advance copies is dependent on staying in the publisher's good graces, which currently means you can't do anything to piss them off.

    There's already the very real spectre that bad reviews make them less happy with you. I was astonished to see the (apparently COMMONPLACE) passive-aggressive threats taking place, where publishers "allow" good reviews to go online early, but bad reviews "must" wait. I cannot fathom how they have this degree of control over companies who are supposedly far enough out of the publisher's pocket to provide an honest review of their product, and it scares me.

    Now they'll use legal pressure against bad reviews, under the already-straining-under-its-load-of-hyperbole banner of "piracy"? Bad times ahead, my friends.