Metacritic appears to have tweaked its user-review score system in order to combat review bombing. A Resetera user noticed the change this morning when looking at the page for the Switch puzzle game Superliminal, which was released yesterday. Users can’t review it until tomorrow, and In the top corner of the page, Metacritic has added a note reading “Please spend some time playing the game.”
“Review bombing” refers to the practice of giving a piece of media negative reviews without having experienced it. This is often done as a response to a piece of media that is surrounded by controversy leading up to its release. Most recently, The Last Of Us Part II appeared to be the victim of review bombing, at one point sitting at a 3.4/10 user score with a 95/100 critic score.
Metacritic has not made an official announcement regarding user reviews and there’s no guarantee that delaying the eligibility date for user reviews will stop review bombing altogether. However, in the case of The Last Of Us Part II, the user score has improved to a 5.3 with time as more players who actually played the game submitted their ratings.
Review bombing has plagued aggregate rating sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb for years and has led to significant backlash from various corners of the internet for the toll it can take on creators. Enforcing a user-review rating delay may be an imperfect solution to Metacritic’s system, which does not require a user to verify that they played a game before reviewing it.
Others have thought of other potential ways to combat the issue. Spieltimes suggested, “One way Metacritic can fix User Scores once and for all is to make it mandatory for users to link their game accounts for verification of ownership of the game. And a ‘Verified Player’ tag beside their usernames would help people decide if a review is rational or purely for bombing purposes.”