This morning I logged on to Metacritic to see what the average score had settled on for Ghost of Tsushima, out today on PS4, and saw that it’s a respectable 83. But I also saw something else, where normally we’d see user scores on the right, there’s a new message there I’ve never seen before.
“Please spend some time playing the game. Come back to review it starting at 12:00pm PST on July 18.”
This…is new. We have previously seen user scores start to pile up either the day a game comes out or sometimes even before that, but now Metacritic is making users wait more than 36 hours after release to start posting reviews, deeming that “adequate” time to believably play the game.
This, of course, was inspired by the recent release of The Last of Us Part 2, where players used user scores to wage a proxy war on the game and sink its score to the low 3/10s right at release. The game currently has more user scores than any other in history by an enormous margin as a result of this ongoing back and forth between detractors and champions.
The initial issue was that there were thousands of reviews that came out almost instantly on the game’s release, when it was physically impossible for players to have played more than a couple hours, given that the length of the story was more like 20-30 hours. These people were submitting reviews based on things like story leaks, streamer playthroughs or just getting to a single story beat near the beginning and rushing off to write an angry review. This new 36-hour hold seems to be fighting against that directly.
However, I am already seeing many people say this isn’t enough. Some are asking for Metacritic to go a step further and actually verify that you’ve played the game if you’re submitting a review for it, through some sort of purchase confirmation via linking your Metacritic account to your PSN or Xbox or Steam profile or something. While maybe they’ll do that someday, that is a much more complicated thing to tackle, and is not how most user score systems work across most major sites. I would be a little surprised if this was ever actually implemented at all, even if in a perfect world, it seems like the correct move.
Ghost of Tsushima does not seem like it’s in danger of being user score review bombed, and this system was not invented just for its release. This actually was first spotted around two weeks ago, but I (and most people) probably didn’t really notice until there was another major release like Ghost that arrived. Again, this will not stop review bombing. After the 36 hours is up, anyone can still write any kind of review they want and there’s no way to track how much of a game they’ve played, if any. But at the very least, we won’t have people reviewing 30-hour story games two hours after they came out, so that’s something.