Metacritic Places 36 Hour Delay on User Reviews for Video Games
If there's one thing people can get behind as being just plain awful, it's review bombing. Some games find themselves the target of this practice following a scandal of some sort, in which hundreds or thousands of players will drop all pretext of constructive criticism and just slam a game with a wall of bad reviews. Most recently, this happened to Sony's much-awaited exclusive The Last of Us Part 2, where the game got review bombed day one of its release on Metacritic. Now, the website is putting in place a new policy going forward that will help put a dent into this toxic practice. From now on, those wanting to write up a user review for a video game will have to wait 36 hours after the said game has released before posting.
The news dropped via Metacritic's sister site GameSpot, in which the company made a statement about the decision. "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," the statement reads. "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." While Metacritic goes on to say that this change isn't due to any one game in particular, it does seem awfully suspect that this happened so soon after TLOU Part 2's review bombing. Considering the high profile nature of that particular game, it brought a big spotlight on Metacritic's review system. The change is similar to changes other companies have made in the past to prevent similar incidents, such as Valve with Steam reviews. That instance reached a boiling point due to Epic Games Store release exclusivity, which happened notably with Borderlands 3.
The Last of Us Part 2 has been something of a powder keg since it released. While the game has been performing well critically, and a vocal section of the fanbase loves it, there's an equally vocal group of people who are tearing the game down at every turn. This is due to multiple factors, such as various plot points within the game's story (no spoilers here, rest assured), the representation of LGBTQ characters, and misleading marketing. It didn't help that a majority of the game's story leaked ahead of its release, which was in part why it got hit by a slight delay. Those leaks were really where it all began, and what led to quite a number of people harshly judging the game day one without even bothering to play it. For context, TLOU Part 2 is significantly larger than its predecessor, clocking in at around 20-30 hours of playtime. For those bad reviews to hit so soon after release clearly showed who wasn't really playing the game.
It's unfortunate that stuff like this happens, but hopefully, Metacritic's decision is a step in the right direction going forward. It's especially helpful in times like these when leaks seem to drop left and right for high profile AAA games, lest we see a repeat of what happened to TLOU Part 2. While it doesn't necessarily stop people from review bombing after the 36-hour wait, it does kill the incentive to do it a bit. It's pretty easy to spot victims of a review bomb when checking Metacritic's scores, as it divides them into two categories: Critical score, and User score. Naturally, if you check the page for TLOU Part 2, the former score is tremendously high, while the latter is about as low as could be. Read between the lines and don't trust everything you see online, especially when it comes to vitriolic reactions like this. The Last of Us Part 2 is available exclusively for PlayStation 4.