It looks like an internet detective may have caught a BioWare employee with his hand in the cookie jar.
Coming from a post off of reddit, user 'GatoFiasco' discovered a review for Dragon Age II on review aggregate site Metacritic that he described as "reading like a press release." After doing some sleuthing, he discovered that the person (account name 'Avanost') posting the then highest-rated user review on Metacritic had only posted one review, and that was for Dragon Age II.
GatoFiasco then took the user name he found on Metacritic and used it to follow the digital breadcrumbs that eventually ended at BioWare employee Chris Hoban. You can check the imgur link here or check the gallery for a picture that details his exploits. Please note that the text of the image was not added by this reporter.
After making some noise on the internet, the Metacritic review was taken down and the Dragon Age II Metacritic page stands at 4.1 from users after receiving numerous low scores from users angry at the disclosure of this alleged activity. The Russian BioWare site (Google Translate for the page can be found here) informed users that Dragon Age II was being attacked by a "flash mob" on Metacritic and encouraged users to take to the site to raise the score for Dragon Age II.
There is no word whether Hoban in fact actually made the post, though evidence does point to the fact that he did. There is also no word that he received any kind of material compensation for the post, though because he is an employee of BioWare any kind of review made without his employment disclosure could run afoul of Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
According to the FTC's Revised Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, "When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed."
As Hoban is an employee of BioWare, his testimony to the quality of the game would not only interfere with his ability to give a purely consumer-centric review, but also brings in a question of financial incentive. Even if he wasn't directly paid for the advertisement, his ability to generate income is in part from aggregate sites like Metacritic, which can be a powerful factor when it comes to swaying the minds of potential consumers.
This practice is surely not an uncommon one on the internet, but in an increasingly connected world, it's becoming a bit easier to discover these practices and call them out.
As this story develops look here for more updates.
UPDATE: Kotaku contacted EA for a comment on the issue, and received this response from a senior public relations manager:
"Of course the people who make the game vote for their own game. That's how it works in the Oscars, that's how it works in the Grammy's and why I'm betting that Barack Obama voted for himself in the last election."
So EA is appearing not only admit that the review occurred, but that it is in fact perfectly acceptable behavior as well.