Metacritic have stated that their recent decision to implement a 36 hour embargo on user reviews for video games was not motivated by reactions to any particular game.
The platform’s user reviews do not verify if a user has completed or played a game. In February a user of Reset Era orchestrated the review bombing of AI: The Somnium Files, due to the user’s grudge with the game’s content.
Though the exact motivation was never clear, the user initially they claimed they did it specifically to prove how easy it was to manipulate a userscore on Metacritic, citing how Warcraft III: Reforged became the lowest rated game on Metacritic.
Another such game that had drawn attention to Metacritic’s user review system was The Last Of Us Part II. Despite high praise from reviewers and critics, some players seemingly despised the game. This may have been motivated by major cutscenes from the game leaking, making many feel the game would have an unsatisfying conclusion. After release and even in-context, this only grew worse.
As we previously reported, the game had a low user review score (3.3 out of 10 from over 16,000 user reviews) in the first 24 hours of the game’s launch. As of July 18th, this eventually grew to 5.5 out of 10 from over 127,000 user reviews [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11].
Reasons for the game’s scorn could be the aforementioned ending, the game’s allegedly progressive or politically left-leaning focused story, objecting to the supposed (but unproven claims of) driving out of former Naughty Dog creative director and writer Amy Hennig, allegations of a hostile work environment and excessive crunch-time, or simply joining in the mockery.
Both positive and negative user reviews came under scrutiny for how genuine they could have been. Metacritic users noticed around July 17th that they could not submit user reviews to some recently released games for 36 hours.
A Metacritic spokesperson told Engadget “We recently implemented the 36 hour waiting period for all user reviews in our games section to ensure our gamers have time to play these games before writing their reviews. This new waiting period for user reviews has been rolled out across Metacritic’s Games section and was based on data-driven research and with the input of critics and industry experts.”
Now GamesIndustry.biz has updated their coverage on the story, reporting that Metacritic’s actions were not motivated be the reception to any recent game releases.
Along with re-iterating the statement given to Engadget, Metacritic told GamesIndustry.biz that (in GamesIndustry.biz’ own words) “the decision was not made based on reactions to any particular game.” Metacritic also confirmed this new change was only applying to their video games section; and not their film, TV, or music sections.
Some on social media have been critical of Metacritic’s actions, accusing them of “protecting” major publishers who wish to maximize the launch-day sales of games. The fact the new user-review system is not being rolled out for other forms of media will likely do little to those theories.
Why would this method to prevent user reviews made in bad faith not be applied to other forms of media? What motivated Metacritic to act now, rather than with what occurred with AI: The Somnium Files or Warcraft III: Reforged? How long has this been in planning?
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!