Metacritic combats game ‘review bombing’ with 36-hour delays to user scores

Metacritic, widely renowned as the ultimate review aggregator, is introducing 36-hour delays to user scores on new games in an effort to combat ‘review bombing.’

Metacritic is tightening its defence against premature user scores by implementing 36-hour delays to all new games on its platform. With a view to maintaining its status as the most authentic review aggregator on the web, this precaution aims to prevent players from hastily throwing up reviews for titles that have yet to be released.

The change was first spotted earlier this month, when members of popular forum site ResetEra discovered that a PlayStation 4 Indie title called Subliminal was not open to user critique until July 9th, despite the game officially launching two days earlier. Forbes confirmed growing suspicions that new measures were in place, sharing a screenshot of the user score option greyed out on Ghost of Tsushima until 36-hours after its release. In the sidebar of both instances, a caption read, ‘Please spend time playing the game.’

In an interview with GameSpot, a spokesperson for Metacritic echoed that sentiment: ‘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.’

Those in charge of the site maintain that the decision was spurred by ‘data-driven research’ and was carried out ‘with the input of critics and industry experts’, but the fact the new system is being introduced mere weeks after the release of The Last of Us Part II suggests that whole storm in a teacup likely had a significant bearing on the decision.

As we reported back in April, PlayStation’s seminal exclusive was lambasted by a portion of the fan-base for the nature of major plot leaks in development. Fuming with the bold new direction, Twitter users directed a tirade of abuse at director Neil Druckmann, and the game became July’s hottest meme on Reddit. Fast forward to the actual release, and protests escalated into full on review bombing.

Players waged a proxy war on The Last of Us II, and within mere hours, the average user score settled at a meagre 3/10 with more than 5000 reviews. Considering the game has a play time of around 30 hours – and that the professional consensus was around 95/100 – it’s safe to assume that day one user scores were probably more emotional than impartial.

This wasn’t the first instance of player bitterness corrupting a critical consensus online either. Just last year, Valve was forced to report overtly negative reviews as ‘off-topic review activity’ for a then seven-year-old Borderlands 2, after fans took exception to the news that Borderlands 3 would be temporarily exclusive to the Epic Games Store.

Personally, I’m chuffed that Metacritic is standing up to those looking to spoil the great community it has built. People will always look to review aggregators for honest and measured opinion, and protesters need to take their gripes elsewhere.

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