When is it a good idea for employees to post reviews of their own company's game? Most people would probably say "never," but that didn't stop Harmonix employees working on Rock Band 4 from doing it. A suspicious Reddit user found at least seven 5-star reviews by Harmonix employees, including from one user who said she was a "new fan," but is actually the company's "legal and music coordinator." Others including a project manager, consultant and senior designer also gave it top marks. Amazon ratings are crucial for such a family-oriented game, given that the online retailer may be the only place casual buyers will look for them.
Harmonix confirmed to Destructoid that its employees did post the reviews, but said "we believe (they) were sincere and without ill intentions." It added that "as a studio, we don't believe these are appropriate actions," and asked that employees either identify themselves or take down the reviews. One employee said that "I'm confident that if I didn't (work for Harmonix) I would still give the game five stars." However, he's not actually allowed to do that by Amazon's rules, and as some Redditors pointed out, it's odd that so many Harmonix employees put them up independently.
The game has actually received decent notices by users and critics. Still, there's a lot riding on it, especially for Mad Catz, the company that co-publishes the game and makes the guitar and drum controllers. In a recent financial statement, it said that its ability to avoid defaulting on debt "depends on (our) ability to increase net sales and gross profit considerably," especially "from anticipated sales of products related to... Rock Band 4."