OPNOOBS site guilty of Review Manipulation and betray their writers

October 03, 2016 Written by
NOTICE: in light of the messages we received from the PC gaming community that reacted to  our interactions with Youtuber Sidalpha, we are reinstating all unpublished reviews. This project is underway and due to our limited resources, is scheduled to complete by the end of 2017.

Editor's note: SidAlpha, the grammatically correct version of your YouTube title should read: "OPNOOBS site guilty of Review Manipulation and betraying their writers." You're welcome =)

I woke up this morning with some hundreds of text messages, emails, and tweets about OPNOOBS, the biased website that changes review scores to please industry professionals.

At the source of the attack, is YouTuber SidAlpha and his video OPNOOBS site guilty of Review Manipulation and betray their writers.

Watch it, enjoy the dramatic spins, and allow me to defend our site, and all the talented writers behind it.

I’ll begin by pointing out a few things SidAlpha is correct about.

“Game critics have a tough road in this industry (…). The ability to earn a living is virtually impossible”

SidAlpha, you are correct! I’m not making money; I’m losing it! Don’t believe me? Call my wife.

The Overpowered Noobs have been operating since September 2014 at a deficit. We have never made a cent, much even less a dollar off of a review, and we invest our personal time and incomes daily, with no prospects of generating profits whatsoever.

Why?

Because we are a community of passionate PC gamers, who write in support of the independent scene – we believe they keep the industry creative and AAA studios from falling into recipes and clichés the way cinema has overtime. We write to provide much needed coverage, good or bad, to talented developers who simply aren’t getting enough from the mainstream press, often for the reason that they don’t carry enough weight in the gaming scene to bring anything of significant value to bigger sites.

For the record, we are not ones to criticize mainstream press. In fact, I personally admire their production output and the quality of the writing. They are a source of inspiration to us and we hope to continue improving our content, so that one day, we might be as respected as they are among the industry. Having said this, we do feel that they could provide much more coverage for the little fishes in the sea, especially those talented enough to deserve it.

Now let’s move on to Sid’s distorted attack.

What happens when the publications you work for not only make significant changes to both your review and score, but then eliminates all of your work by deleting it from the site, firing you and a host of other writers, all following in the coattails of being admitted as a confirmed Metacritic site?

We started like so many other entrepreneurial teams on earth.

From the dirt, and with nothing other than an uphill battle ahead of us. I recall the long nights, the teams breaking down, the personal time away from family when my newborn was ready for his dad. But I wasn’t. At least not half as much as I wanted to. Personally, I had and I still must build something, and both my colleagues and I knew it would take a tremendous amount of work and commitment to make it happen.

Early on and all the way until mid-2016, the writing on OPNOOBS was less than stellar.

We had to start somewhere, right? Getting the ball rolling was the priority at the time, though, and meeting gamers from all walks of life, so as to create a talent community that would bring a breath of fresh air and a real support base to a booming indie scene. Simply click on this link of upcoming games this week, and also take a look at the sheer amount of games waiting for some attention from press… Sadly, there is so little coverage to support them!

We always felt that was a shame, and I hope you, the independent thinker, will agree.

You fired people, you capitalistic you!?

They were all, for the record, volunteers.

Not employees, but volunteers. Hence the inflammatory word in your video, “fired,” is grossly incorrect. You influence people, SidAlpha, and hats off to you for being successful. But please check your facts, if you want to be respected in the long run.

And yes! I hate to say it, but there is such a thing as good writing, vs. poor writing.

Now let me walk you through this butchery called business standards.

In 2015, we applied to Metacritic. To no avail. We did not get the accreditation and, frankly, rightfully so. The quality in the writing just wasn’t there.

This meant that at the turn of 2016, we decided to make some real tough decisions in the writing department, letting go of people we had come to know as friends. At the time, we dismissed far more writers than we did at the turn of 2017.

Toward the end of the year, we applied again. Metacritic considered us once more, and this time, recognized how much we had evolved. They accredited OPNOOBS, and yes, it did bring tears to my eyes. So much work; so much dedication. The naysayers were proven wrong, and we were at last rewarded for persevering.

Now Tony Villareal was still around, among a few others whom, albeit being good people (Tony obviously excluded), we felt did not have the skill level to carry us forward in this new era. Most accepted the fact that we had to bid farewell, but he didn’t and he certainly did a good job at taking his frustration into a platform where he might be heard. Sorry, Tony. I still wish you well.

Happy Columbus Day

Not to get too philosophical on you all, but yeah… The immigrant in me saw the accreditation and appreciated the big win it symbolized as a true expression of American meritocracy. I’m glad there are people like the one I won't name, running parts of a company as influential as Metacritic. People like him make the world go round: they recognize hard work and a job done right, regardless of who you are and who your father is. And I hope our small and humble success be a source of inspiration to others gamers trying to get something up and running. You should. Because if you’ve got the resilience and stamina for it, this country will acknowledge and reward you for it. That’s what makes it so great.

You changed the review score!?

Most of the time it’s to bring it down. No more 9’s and 10’s at every turn. PLEASE.

Yes, but before publishing it! And we do this all the time – before publishing it! That’s because we have a strict grading scale which, by the way, is much tougher than other game sites.

It is our belief that games are overhyped, and 9’s and 10’s are far too numerous! The 2017 grading scale saw some further adjustments in that direction.

Now if a writer doesn’t understand our grading, we look at what he’s saying. Then we adjust his score based on how his writing reads. We communicate that to them, and they’re for the most part (Tony obviously excluded), appreciative of it.

Journalist integrity? Screenshots attached. ‘Nuff said.

At the end of the day, I’ll let you be the judge of who we are and what we stand for. I do hope you’ll take a step back before following the herd that points a finger. I commented on YouTube, but the crowd didn't believe it was the President. That's how disconnected the press is from the community. Not us. So if you have any comments or concerns, you can always email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Always happy to chat.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST: I invite Sid Alpha to debate me on Twitch. I won’t run away from OPNOOBS. Our team deserves far better from me than that. So, Sid Alpha, if you’re man enough. Come face me!

SidAlpha vs. OPNOOBS Part 2! - Annexed on 10/10/2017

SidAlpha's Response

FROM FRED TO SIDALPHA: I apologize for throwing that jab at you. In my own defense, it was on a humorous tone... I'm pretty sure you are man enough... considering how tough and direct your channel is!

For the record, I'm not inviting you on Twitch to corner you. I'm inviting you to have a polite and open discussion about what we did at the turn of 2015 and 2016, for you perhaps to better understand our motivations, and for me to better understand yours and how we might have handled our growth better.

Honestly - parts of your arguments I get; but I think you're tough on us and then, on others, I just disagree and I would like to explain why.
I'm not an aggressive guy and if you do accept, I promise you to conduct myself in the most professional of manners, in a positive environment, and there won't be anything on the stream that would make you feel either unwelcomed or insulted. You have my word.

Would you please consider it? I think it would help both parties.

You've also given me quite some food for thoughts...

And I'm going to recognize a shortcoming and try to rectify our mistake. I heard you loud and clear on one specific point, and also thanks to people like Logan and Chiara, who have contacted me directly. They too helped me realize that something we did was messed up.

I hope you understand wanting to raise the writing level on the site. Still... No matter the quality behind the writing, pulling down the reviews from opnoobs, that indeed, people had worked on, was a messed up thing to do. We should have been more respectful of the time they had invested and their commitment... So here's what we're going to do.

We will restore the content pulled down, under a new section of the site, which we will label "community reviews." This way we still separate it from what our editorial board considers to meet today's standards on the site, but not at the cost of giving the deserved exposure to our former writers.

I hope that will show that I'm not that full of myself, and that I can recognize when I make mistakes. I'm only human and like many others, I've made a ton of them in the past couple years. I learn everyday.

I also and still hope you will accept my invitation to talk on Twitch, and hopefully you'll find that I'm not so arrogant and bully-like.

If not, I wish you the best.

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Fred Brizzi

Fred is OpNoobs' loyal and undeserving Presidente. He started gaming with Alex Kidd on the Sega Master System back in 1986 and was brought by ID Software to the PC when DOOM hit the shelves in 1993. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and child, plays international politics by day, and games by night. His dream? To leave the elephants and the donkeys at the zoo, and eat, pray, love PC gaming 101% of the time. In fact, when he's not working for OpNoobs, he's apologizing to his wife for OpNoobs.