Critical review aggregator Metacritic has apparently made a change to the method in which they allow end user reviews to be posted on the site. Instead of being able to submit a review the day of a game’s release, end users are now effectively embargoed for 36 hours after the release of any title.
The change was originally observed and mentioned by a forum poster on ResetEra when they tried to post a review of puzzle game Superliminal. A similar situation was documented by Forbes with the recently released Ghost of Tsushima. In both instances, user reviews were blocked until approximately 36 hours after the official release date, along with a note saying, “Please spend time playing the game.”
Metacritic confirmed the policy change in a statement to Gamesindustry.biz:
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.
According to Metacritic, this particular change is only being applied to the games section of the site, and is not being taken in response to any one title’s release. The timing of this change, however, seems to undermine Metacritic’s assertion. While Ghost of Tsushima has received plenty of praise from end users, one cannot help but notice that it was being implemented in the wake of another high profile release, and one far less enthusiastic. The review bombing of The Last of Us: Part II put the User Score of the game at about 3.1 right at release amid controversy regarding certain characters and plot developments. While review bombing doesn’t normally affect bonuses or post-release marketing for games, it remains a problematic exercise. Metacritic’s new policy also does not prohibit review bombing after a title comes out, so the effectiveness of this move is currently unknown.