Metacritic changes user review policy to combat review bombing

It looks like Metacritic finally wised up and is now forcing a 36-hour window for all user reviews posted to the site. What this means is that review bombing should be less, at least for the initial day or so. It won’t stop those from completely laying into a game after the 36-hours after that game is released, but it’s a start. 

It’s no secret that Metacritic has been suffering from review bombing over the past few years, with several high profile games having their review scores sabotaged. With this change, no one outside of influencers and gaming journalists, those who have had access to a game for longer than 36-hours will be able to provide a review score on Metacritic.

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

Whether this works or not, that remains to be seen. Metacritic isn’t the one that’s experienced review bombing as Steam’s review system has also been a victim. So far, Steam has made several changes to help prevent this and has been mildly successful. This including validating that only those who purchased a game could support a score. This isn’t something that Metacritic could implement since they don’t distribute games.

They could implement a system where the reviewer would need to submit their Gamertag, and then they can check how long that person played the game. Sure, you can still game that system, but it would be a start.

To be completely honest, as I pointed out above, this is only to help initially. Those who are dead set on plummeting a review score will wait the 36 hours and then still add a fake score.

The only way to completely get rid of review bombing is to not allow user review scores at all. Which is something that the other popular game review aggregator, OpenCritic, currently does. Yes. that would present another set of issues, such as not allowing those who aren’t influencers and gaming journalists to provide scores. Something of which I feel needs to be a thing. Yet, it’s been apparent that if you have an open review system that’s exploitable, then people will exploit it.

At the end of the day, a review score is subjective. Review scores are merely a reference point that you don’t have to follow, yet they have constantly been the subject of contention.

We’ll see how this new implementation works out for Metacritic in the meanwhile.