Review aggregator site Metacritic has changed the way that users can leave reviews of games on their site starting today. Before the change, as soon as a game came out, users of the site could leave a review judged on a 10-point scale. Now though, they have to wait an additional 36 hours before they can do so.
In its place is a message that says: “Please spend time playing the game.”.
This was first believed to be a reactionary precaution to review-bombing; a fairly common practice where a large number of negative reviews aim to drive down the average rating of a game in protest.
Wait, what was the problem with Metacritic before?
Once news broke that Borderlands 3 would have Epic Games Store exclusivity for six months, negative reviews on Borderlands 1 & 2 flooded in on the game’s Steam page. Valve later used this to kickstart their policy of removing what they called “off-topic reviews”.
The Last of Us Part II suffered from a similar, but much more prominent case, when the controversy broke that plot details of the game were leaked, and many reacted with outrage at the decisions developer Naughty Dog had taken. Currently, the PlayStation exclusive sits at 5.5/10 with its user reviews versus the critics’ average of 94 (read our review here), but early on, it was down in the mid 3’s as the public’s dissatisfaction was shown.
Metacritic later confirmed in a response to its sister site GameSpot that the reaction to The Last of Us II was not a factor of the change. A Metacritic spokesperson spoke on the decision to add the waiting period:
“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.”