Metacritic is implementing a 36-hour review delay to ensure that people actually had enough time to play a game before sharing their thoughts about it online.
Speaking to Game Spot about the new policy, a spokesperson for Metacritic said…
“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.”
Although Metacritic says the delay isn’t in response to user reactions to any particular game, the announcement does come a few weeks after The Last of Us Part II was released. The game was review bombed on the site.
Review bombing happens when users give a large number of negative reviews to a game, typically as low as possible, in order to drop its overall score. The popularity of the game is then harmed, which has an impact on sales and the revenue it can generate.
It’s worth noting that a lot of negative reviews on Metacritic (and other review sites) are based on reactions to leaks regarding games, not people actually playing them.
By delaying user reviews, anyone visiting the site after the release of a game won’t be bombarded by unfounded hate towards it. And reviews from critics and gaming publications won’t get lost in the noise.
Review bombing has been a major problem for every site which aggregates scores based on reviews of video games, films, TV shows and music albums. The most notorious incident being an attempt to drag down Captain Marvel’s score on popular review site Rotten Tomatoes.
Some gamers might view the move as an attempt to stifle their opinions, and perhaps it is. But is that really a bad thing?
Ever since the rise of social media, Joe Public has been given a platform to shift the narrative in various areas of the entertainment industry. It only takes a second for a seemingly harmless comment or tweet to spiral out of control, forcing studios to change their CGI graphics, fire a director or change their casting choice.
The truth is “cancel culture” hides under the guise of an opinion, which everyone is entitled to, regardless of the facts laid out in front of them.
However, there needs to be a line drawn between the need to express and opinion and causing financial ruin to a company. A few cranky gamers shouldn’t have the power to create multiple accounts and bombard a platform with low scores, essentially destroying something that doesn’t belong to them.
Perhaps Metacritic is leaning toward censorship, but what we really should be wondering is why aren’t we doing it everywhere else too?