Review aggregate site Metacritic is changing how its user score works to make it harder for people to post reviews without having played the game. The site now makes people wait 36 hours after a game is released before allowing user reviews to be posted. This will hopefully block negative review-bomb campaigns against developers, such as in the recent case of The Last of Us Part II.
“Please spend some time playing the game”, reads a message where the user reviews section would be for newly released games. There is also a date and time when the users will be able to post reviews. While not all review-bombing campaigns happen right when the game is released, this new system acts as a buffer for players to spend a reasonable number of hours with a game before posting a score. This change is unlikely to prevent people from downvoting a game based on creative or corporate decisions they don’t like, but the user reviews section now at least has a chance to be balanced out by reviews from people who have actually played the game.
Review-bombing is a hazard for any site that collects and assigns an average score based on user reviews. Different sites and storefronts have been trialling different responses to weed out malicious review-bombing campaigns. For instance, Steam has recently introduced a system to prevent “off-topic” reviews from impacting a game’s collective score. Steam also provides a bar graph showing the review average of a game over time. Users can then confirm if a game has been review-bombed bombed at some point and take that into account.
While a good idea, Metacritic’s new user reviews restrictions won’t necessarily prevent review bombs in the future. There is no system to actually confirm if someone has played a game before reviewing it, unlike on Steam. Having to wait 36 hours after release to downvote a game may at least give some people time to cool down and rethink why they are trying to bomb the game’s score. Hopefully, this change will ensure the user score average on Metacritic is more helpful for visitors of the site.