Metacritic changes user score reviews system: is it enough to tackle review bombing?

After the most recent review bombing of The Last Of Us Part II, Metacritic has come to the decision of imposing a delay on user reviews, in an attempt to discourage bombing reviews from the fiercest fans. Will this be enough to stop the phenomenon?

The Last of Us™ Part II

Bad news for all those angry fans that love to distribute strings of zeroes on Metacritic when reviewing a game they didn’t even play, just to lower its score and try to “damage” its sells. The last case involving The Last Of Us Part II has convinced the website to change the way users score works: now, the users will have to wait a period of time before they can actually leave their reviews and opinions on a game. When a game is first released there will be a short period when only professional critics who received an early copy can leave their reviews: everybody else will see a message that invites them to spend some time playing the game.

Metacritic is often associated with this negative phenomenon, and this shows the will to at least try to get rid of this association. While it seems logical to not allow users to be able to review a game on the first day of its release, is this Metacritic countermove to review bombing going to be actually effective?

For some less heated users this might be an effective move that will actually discourage them to randomly give a zero without having played the game; for the most heated and angry fans, especially of big franchise games such as TLOU, this will only delay the inevitable. Let’s analyse the specific case of the latest Naughty Dog game: two months before its release, some story leaks appeared on the Internet. Subsequently, a large number of players decided they didn’t like the story and what was going to happen in the game, and have been angrily waiting for the game to be released just to destroy its score: they were never going to buy it and play it, to see for themselves if the leaks were true. If the delay had already been in place, a few more days would have never stopped the review bombing from happening: such heated and fuming fans were never going to give up.

As you can see from the image above, the delay is already in place on the website. In the case shown above, CrossCode, which was released today 9th of July, the reviews will open on the 10th of July, at midnight. Now, this is a game that has an average length between 30 and 80 hours: even playing a whole day it is actually impossible to complete the game and so being able to actually be able to review it. Checking on other titles being released recently, such as Marvel’s Iron Man: VR, the user reviews are already open after 6 days from its release. This means that the period of time imposed for the delay is definitely not enough, nor to be able to finish the game, nor to be effectively discouraging players from review bombing or even encouraging them to actually play the game. We all wonder how a game highly focused on storytelling such as The Last Of Us Part II, which has an average length around 30 hours, can be even reviewed after not even 24 hours.

The bottom line is that, extremely likely, this countermove from Metacritic will be extremely ineffective, especially if the wait time for the user scores is just a day, which is not going to make any difference, realistically. Only time will confirm this, though.

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