Tom Bombadildo has left the editorial team following his TOTK review

Costello

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Hi everybody,
I'd like to bring you up to speed about a few things that happened yesterday on the site and on the staff discussion channels.

Short version:
Tom Bombadildo, a member of our editorial team (aka. mag staff) has left the staff yesterday after a dispute concerning his 'Tears of the Kingdom' review.
He had his review almost ready for publication, but I, along with several members of the staff, had concerns with it, seeing as he rated it 6.9/10 (that is the score he gave to all his recent reviews).
I suggested that we bring in someone else and do a co-op review, in order to have some sort of balance, to make the review more representative of the GBAtemp staff's opinion. Tom didn't like this at all and decided it was time to leave.

Long version:
A few years ago, at the time Zelda BOTW was released, Tom designated himself to review the game. He posted this review: https://gbatemp.net/review/the-legend-of-zelda-breath-of-the-wild.564/ the score, as you all know it, was 7/10. At the time our review became a bit of a joke online because it was the lowest score any website had given to BOTW.

I personally didn't do anything in particular when this happened, thought it was fair that someone didn't like the game that much, and that was the end of it.
We had to own the criticism and I respected Tom's work and never really came and talked to him about the subject other than make the occasional joke about it.

When the time came for our TOTK review, Tom decided, again all by himself, that he should be the one to review it. By the time we had a say in anything, he had already come up with most of it. So Chary and I just let him go ahead with it. We laughed it off on the telegram group, I thought "what the hell, let's see what happens".

Later on, Tom revealed he was going to score the game 6.9 out of 10. He had already updated his review and said he was almost done.
Why 6.9 ? because, "nice", right? He gave the same score to all of his latest reviews:

1683944353001.png

1683944369887.png

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Realizing this, I just couldn't allow GBAtemp's name to be dragged through the mud again. While I respect Tom's opinion as a reviewer, I do not believe his review of TOTK was written with the fairness it deserved. He clearly wasn't a big fan of the first game. That wasn't a requirement for reviewing TOTK, but you would need to have the honesty to acknowledge the hard work that was put into the game to improve upon the first one.

What Tom doesn't seem to understand is that he isn't just speaking for himself (if he were, he would be posting his review as a 'member' review, i.e. not an official GBAtemp review). His words represent our site on the public scene. People are going to share our review and we are going to be made a laughingstock again. I felt that I had to prevent that from happening.

I had a talk with Chary, our chief editor, who shared the same concerns. We tried to figure out a way that wouldn't upset Tom. I came up with the idea of bringing in someone else into the equation; someone who wouldn't be in the same negative state of mind as Tom and who could bring balance. I didn't suggest changing the score (just like I didn't ask Tom to change his score on the BOTW review) but simply to ensure the review is more representative of the staff's opinion, the staff as a whole, not just Tom with his constant 6.9 ratings.

After Chary presented him with the idea, Tom didn't take it well at all and decided to leave. He revealed to us that he was going to leave anyway, and that this would be his last review no matter what.
But before leaving, he forced the publication of his review (against our orders). As a result some of you may have seen Tom's 6.9 review for a very short time.
I'm here to tell you that Tom's review won't be published - or if he wants to publish it, he is free to do so under his own name (I personally think that he should).

However there will be someone else in our team that's going to review the game, and that will be our official review. I know who this other person is because Chary told me, and I'm not going to be influencing him/her, I'm just expecting them to publish something they really believe in, that they put a lot of effort in, and to come up with a fair score - fair in that it acknowledges and respects the work that the developers put into the game, without bias.


Last but not least: why did I post this message in public?
1) because some of you may have seen the review while it was online
2) because I think this is actually an interesting debate to have. Did we handle things correctly? Or did we make a bad decision that harmed our own integrity? Should we have published Tom's review as is? Tell me what you think.
3) because this gives Tom a chance to present his own perspective if he wants to. In spite of everything that happened, I respect him for his past work at GBAtemp and I will miss having him around.
 

Maximumbeans

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My worthless opinions, lightning round:
- I can see why you brought this to light, probably better than trying to sit on it, for many reasons.
- Sounds like you approached it as best you could when someone is clearly just memeing it.
- Without hearing his side, Tom comes across as more than a bit immature here.

In summary:
1686146673712.png
 
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TunaKetchup

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Sounds like GBAtemp was pressured into giving TOTK a higher review than what Tom wanted to give it. No doubt this is due to the recent entitlement displayed by the gaming community most notably with Metacritic user reviews and Steam user reviews.

I can't say if Tom had a bias against TOTK or BOTW for that matter since I was unable to read his reviews.

However, I think removing someone based on the score they give a video game is a bad precedent regardless of any bias they may have. Mainly because of how hard it is to prove bias.

Would you have removed Tom if he gave the game a 10/10 but still displayed a similar bias toward the game? I would guess you wouldn't have.

So, in other words, you didn't remove Tom based on any bias he has, rather you removed him simply cause of his low review score.

Now, do I really care that GBATemp went with this course of action? Nah not really. You guys do you.
 
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Wiimpathy

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At least the BOTW review seems honest. It's strange that all reviewers in the world gave the highest score. Even critics pointing the technical issues (framerate, clipping) or the artificial difficulty.

It's good to have independent review that don't take into account the general, accepted opinion.

I found the review and score quite fair. BOTW was such a disappointment for me. It's not a Zelda game anymore. No real dungeons, large but a bit empty world, or this frustrating weapons system.
TOTK has improved a bit. More weapon durability etc...
 

KirovAir

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My only concern here is that all of this could have (and probably should have) been handled internally and privately. This whole thread reeks of “he said/she said” school yard infighting and an inability to have a discussion by both sides.

Did Tom have to be so stubborn? Nope. But at least he didn’t run to the forums presenting a fairly one sided argument to get support. Sure some people may have saw Tom’s review, but that number was far less than the amount of attention that was brought to it by making this thread.

The professional way to handle this was internally. If any thread was made about Tom leaving, it should have simply said “Tom has decided to leave the staff. After nearly a decade writing reviews, it’s been nice Tom”. without the malice that was clearly intended in the OP here.

I don’t know any of the staff personally or even really at all. But the amount of pettiness seen here kind of sickens me. Handle private business privately. You don’t air out family dirty laundry, so why air out the Temps?
Because it's a community? Like, with actual members participating in it?
That's what I like about gbatemp. It's open instead of some corporate garbage website that everything else is nowadays.

@Costello Your decision is the right one. I agree with Hells Malice:
He was a reviewer not an opinion piece writer. If he couldn't objectively look at the game, what was the point of voluntarily writing a "review"? And given he didn't even like BOTW, it's baffling he thought he was qualified to write a review for TOTK. It's pretty clear he only did it specifically as a hit piece for attention, or out of pointless spite because the game dares have things he personally dislikes and doesn't understand the purpose of.

The juvenile 6.9/10 pretty much says it all. It wasn't a review, it was barely even a hit piece. It was just a sad cry for attention with no substance or merit. It would've been embarrassing to continue publishing things like that as if it were a review. I also personally hate review scores, but they're still part of how shit is done. Either give it an actual score, or don't. Scores are arbitrary between outlets, but you as a writer can determine a rough idea of what your score means. Unless you turn it into le meme.

There's a big difference between objectively looking at a game, and blindly smearing it for perfectly acceptable things you simply dislike. Especially big titles that will garner a lot of attention.

If I went and gave the latest NFL game a 6.9/10 because it's stupid how you have to adhere to Football's rules and are incapable of kicking around a life-sized Cosby bodypillow instead of a football, that wouldn't be a good or object review. It'd just be me playing a game I clearly didn't enjoy and lamenting features I personally wanted. Even if you don't personally care about scores, they obviously matter, and like I said, if you need to take a stand... just don't give a score. But rating something below its predecessor despite the fact it largely remedied virtually every complaint you had about the original...that's just pure stupidity. It's objective fact that TOTK is BOTW but with more content. More enemies, more weapons, more interesting powers, more ways to interact with the world and puzzles. More areas to explore. Hell, even the fucking performance is better.

tl;dr if you're going to shit on a game, at least make some fucking coherent sense.
 

Scarlet

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I mean I guess none of us should be that surprised that the dude called Tom Bombadildo went out like he did :rofl:
In fairness to Tom, that wasn’t a name he picked. I think a mod changed it as a joke an age ago and it just stuck.

To weigh in on the thread way after the fact, I think this kinda thing is a difficult topic. As the person who ended up writing the “official” review, I don’t think anything Tom said was particularly wrong in his review. People feel differently about different things, and the impact of negative points will vary from person to person too. Should we only push people who feel positively about the games for the site’s larger opinion? I don’t really have an answer for that.

I’ll also add that I’m also not fond of scoring, but I do also understand that to a degree, scores drive clicks more than a simple “recommend” or “don’t recommend” kinda system. If sticking a number on the end helps keep things alive and helps traffic, it’s a necessary evil.

That’s my ramble anyway. I’m glad this wasn’t the reason Tom left, and I hope it doesn’t turn people against him assuming he’s sticking around as a normal member. He’s done great reviews, is an absolute fount of technical knowledge, and he’ll be missed.

All the best to him o7
 

Ondrashek06

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When will this "funny secks number" shit die?

I sometimes laugh at it if done right, but ruining submitted reviews for something like this wasn't ever funny and will never be.
 

Ligeia

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This is so sad, because it shows how sheep mentality is prevalent in the gaming community. Give the same review as everyone else or be ridiculed. What's the point of reviews then.

7 was a fair score for BotW. All the 10/10 were ridiculous and completely biaised. 6.9 was also a fair score for TotK (not taking into account the repeated 6.9 reviews)

You basically chickened out because Tom wasn't gonna review TotK in the exact same fanboyish way than everyone else. Typical herd mentality.

I'm sorry if I sound harsh but I definitely understand Tom. He's not the one who was biaised, you were because you were afraid of the reaction an honest and fair review could get.

And finally I need to adress this :
you would need to have the honesty to acknowledge the hard work that was put into the game to improve upon the first one.
Seriously ? A mirrored underworld and a few copy-and-pasted sky islands are "hard work" for you ?
 

x65943

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This is so sad, because it shows how sheep mentality is prevalent in the gaming community. Give the same review as everyone else or be ridiculed. What's the point of reviews then.

7 was a fair score for BotW. All the 10/10 were ridiculous and completely biaised. 6.9 was also a fair score for TotK (not taking into account the repeated 6.9 reviews)

You basically chickened out because Tom wasn't gonna review TotK in the exact same fanboyish way than everyone else. Typical herd mentality.

I'm sorry if I sound harsh but I definitely understand Tom. He's not the one who was biaised, you were because you were afraid of the reaction an honest and fair review could get.

And finally I need to adress this :

Seriously ? A mirrored underworld and a few copy-and-pasted sky islands are "hard work" for you ?
"(not taking into account the repeated 6.9 reviews)"

You can't just not take into account the most important aspect of the story

He literally gave his last 5-6 reviews the exact same score over a period of years and refused to give an actual score

If you refuse to do your job what else can your boss realistically do?
 
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Ligeia

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"(not taking into account the repeated 6.9 reviews)"

You can't just not take into account the most important aspect of the story

He literally gave his last 5-6 reviews the exact same score over a period of years and refused to give an actual score

If you refuse to do your job what else can your boss realistically do?
If Tom had been let go because of the 6.9 issue, that would have been perfectly fine with me. But reading to original post, it seems to me that the main issue was that the BotW test (which was published long before the 6.9 issue) was not in line with other online tests, and that neither was the TotK test. And that is not acceptable to me. I don't see the point in reading a test if it's supposed to follow a general consensus instead of an honest opinion.
 

x65943

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If Tom had been let go because of the 6.9 issue, that would have been perfectly fine with me. But reading to original post, it seems to me the main issue was that the BotW test (which was published long before the 6.9 issue) was not in line with other online tests, and that neither was the TotK test. And that is not acceptable to me.
Not to get too much into the weeds and personal matters

But the real issue was refusing to work with the team and making decisions on his own in contravention of staff wishes

As cool of a guy as he is he doesn't own the site, and publishing an article he was asked not to publish is clearly no bueno
 
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Ligeia

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Not to get too much into the weeds and personal matters

But the real issue was refusing to work with the team and making decisions on his own in contravention of staff wishes

As cool of a guy as he is he doesn't own the site, and publishing an article he was asked not to publish is clearly no bueno
Yeah, this point I can definitely take.
 
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