OpenCritic is a more recent gaming review aggregate that not only changes up how game scores are aggregated, they also value journalistic standards as a key part of their method in pulling together scores from various gaming websites.
Now, the company is claiming Metacritic, a gaming review aggregate that has been dominant in the industry for years, is stealing their review data and information without any prior consultation.
The company mentioned various tells that Metacritic has stolen their data and information, with things like a redundant slash (to help with their internal system), or capitalizing random letters in a game’s review URL.
You can find their entire message below:
We didn’t know if we should be proud or outraged when we took a look at Metacritic this morning and saw that they had OpenCritic’s review data and information on their site.
On the positive side, we were excited to see another industry giant stand alongside companies such as Insomniac Games, Nvidia and Telltale in presenting OpenCritic as an authority. However, we’re frustrated that we did not receive recognition and have requested that they either credit OpenCritic or begin licensing our API and databases.
If you can’t see how they copied us, we wouldn’t blame you – we make subtle, near-invisible changes to various review data to tag it using a system we call “horsemen.”
For example, with PCGamer’s Blood and Wine review, we added a redundant slash after pcgamer.com. With Twinfinite’s review, we capitalized the “W” and “B” in the review URL.
We can’t detail every example as it would giveaway our tells, but these two are notable: Metacritic’s Blood and Wine page currently has these exact horsemen listed, leading us to believe that they’ve begun sourcing reviews from OpenCritic (archive.org link, PCGamer screenshot, Twinfinite screenshot).
These changes don’t interfere with the user experience and are unique to OpenCritic. We checked to make sure that these links did not appear on popular websites such as Neogaf and reddit. We also feel confident in claiming that we listed these URLs first. As with most games, OpenCritic was faster: in this case, three hours faster.
Now you might be thinking “wow, that’s weird? Why did you build the horsemen system?” But there is historical precedent: old cartographers would add small fake places to maps and phone books would add fake phone number listings. These are simple techniques that aggregators leverage to protect their data.
We strongly believe that OpenCritic is the best review aggregator. We’re the only aggregator that correctly credits authors in addition to publications. We’re the only aggregator that lets users pick-and-choose their trusted publications. And unlike Metacritic, all of our scores are presented as simple averages with no hidden weightings, using data that can be verified by the public.
As we announced last January, our API alpha is in full swing and will soon shift into beta. We hope that Metacritic and others will consider joining our beta and licensing our API.
How do you feel about Metacritic potentially stealing information and data from OpenCritic? Sound off in the comments below!
We’ve reached out to Metacritic for a response.