What just happened? Review aggregator Metacritic has introduced a feature aimed at preventing review bombing. From now on, users will have to wait 36 hours after a game is released before they can leave a review. The site insists that the decision didn't come about because of a particular title, but The Last of Us Part 2 likely played a part.
"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," a Metacritic spokesperson told Gamespot, which is owned by Metacritic owner by ViacomCBS. "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."
The feature meant two big games that came out on Friday—Ghosts of Tsushima and Paper Mario: The Origami King—had no Metacritic user reviews until Saturday 12 PM PT. Until the time period expired, their pages read: "Please spend some time playing the game."
While the company says the decision wasn't due to a particular game, the feature's appearance so close to the launch of The Last of Us Part 2 is unlikely to be a coincidence. Major spoilers to Naughty Dog's sequel leaked in April, leading to an avalanche of negative user reviews landing on Metacritic just hours after release.
Valve introduced histograms to try and tackle review bombing back in 2017 after GTA V and Firewatch were targeted for reasons not related to the games. In 2019, it promised to identify off-topic review bombs and remove them from the Review Score.
While Metacritic's waiting period will help, it's not going to stop review bombing completely, which seems especially common with games that appear exclusively on the Epic Games Store.