Metacritic Brings Down The Hammer On "Review Bombers"

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Metacritic Brings Down The Hammer On "Review Bombers"

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The popular review aggregator Metacritic is giving users who "bomb" titles with unreasonable zero point scores the boot.

"Review bombing," for the uninitiated, is the act of posting very low score user reviews on sites like Metacritic or Amazon in order to bring down the review average. It's an oft used tactic in the ongoing war between the console fanbases, with platform exclusives, particularly in the more competitive genres, getting hundreds of negative reviews from grumpy fans or iconoclasts who deem a title "overrated." While this causes bigger publishers to simply tut, roll their eyes and light up another cigar with a flaming fifty, it can be a devastating blow to a smaller developers. Both Supergiant Games and Signal Studios saw the Metacritic scores of their latest games, Bastion and Toy Soldiers: Cold War respectively, drop sharply overnight, without a clear reason why.

Metacritic seemed content to let the reviews, many of which were straight zeroes with no written content whatsoever, stand, at least prior to an editorial on Giant Bomb. Metacritic has since pulled some of the negative reviews, and banned the users responsible, returning Bastion and Toy Solidiers: Cold War's Metacritic scores to something more in line with the opinions of sane people.

"A publisher of a different game let us know that he noticed that his game had been 'bombed' by a bunch of zero ratings in an unusually short period of time," said Metacritic co-founder Marc Doyle. "While investigating those ratings, we noticed a group of user accounts and activities that were clearly illegitimate and violated our terms of use."

It isn't clear if Metacritic is going to review their review system to prevent other titles from being bombed in the future, but Signal Studios president Douglas Robert Albright III thinks it wouldn't take much to make the system bomb proof.

"The way to fix Metacritic user reviews is to simply require a written review and verify user accounts," he said. "If it was just some random blog I'd say whatever. But this is a major news review aggregator that should have better oversight and some standards."

Source: Industry Gamers

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That's nice to hear, Bastion was a fantastic game, so it's nice to see them not have to go down for some random trolls on the web xD.

A good way to do it would be force the person to write something in order to give a score.

genericusername64:
But Dragon Age 2 deserves A 4.2
http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/dragon-age-ii

No, it doesn't. If it did, then it would have gotten it without review-bombing it. Besides, it's still better than most RPGs.

I shouldn't even need a flame shield, seeing how we all understand how opinions work, right?

ANGRY GLARE

I understand review bombing certain games (spore with the horrific drm a few years back) but just doing it to Bastion for seemingly no reason? Yeah, those guys can fuck off.

lacktheknack:

genericusername64:
But Dragon Age 2 deserves A 4.2
http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/dragon-age-ii

No, it doesn't. If it did, then it would have gotten it without review-bombing it. Besides, it's still better than most RPGs.

I shouldn't even need a flame shield, seeing how we all understand how opinions work, right?

ANGRY GLARE

Your wasting your time, a lot of people are still thinking "OMG DA2 WORST GAME EVARRRRZ"

Can't we just say fu to the point system and go with more of a "excellent,good,average,bad,awful" kind of system? With a written review below saying why they thought as they did.

Besides what sad sap use a 50 to light his cigarette? Didn't know hobos was designing major games these days.

Never trusted the average 'user' review.

And i've never listened to Metacritic.

When you read through 'review' sites (and I use the term 'review' extremely loosely) and see "dis gam sukz" with a score of 1 (and that's one of the better written reviews on some sites) then i'd much rather live with slapping myself in the face if I buy a shit game.

genericusername64:
But Dragon Age 2 deserves A 4.2
http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/dragon-age-ii

Honestly, they should just remove every 0 or 1 rating on there. 99% of them are probably totally worthless

I hate when this sort of bullshit happens. It happened on DA2 and it's downright confusing. But I guess it's the last recourse for disgruntled gamers when trolling forums no longer satisfies them. Poor games industry; the type of customers that buy their products are also the kind that sit around on the internet and bitch every time a game underwhelms them. Give it a reasonable score that matches its quality? Naah, I'll just slap a zero on it and accuse them of destroying all my most cherished gaming memories.

I struggle to believe that metacritic user reviews have the slightest bit of credibility. It's bad enough that they water down critical reception of a game to a 100-point scale, but doing the same with random people? Please.

Metacritic reviews are bad, but the good thing about it is that they were never in any way censored. My opinion is that censoring reviews, no matter how idiotic they might be, can only lead to bad things. As long as it's limited to 0.0 reviewers I guess it's OK. But let's hope it doesn't spread to other "non-desirable" reviews.

Thats cool.

Will they also do something about blatant sockpuppets of publishers, hired to give their titles "unwarranted" 10/10 reviews?

Wait no, because that would mean banning 90% of reviews in existence...

It is about time. Considering many of the worthless reviews I have seen with 0 and 1 bombs to go with them, I will be nice for game to have proper natural scores.

They have a lot of work to do if they want to pull this off properly, definitely a lot of work considering the outrageous 0 and 1 bombs of Dragon Age 2. I would say when at least the 0's are removed, that the user score will be at least a 7.5 or higher.

genericusername64:
But Dragon Age 2 deserves A 4.2
http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/dragon-age-ii

No it doesn't, it was a fantastic game that had one flaw, and that was that it had too few dungeons. Though I didn't notice it until I was over halfway through the game and people harped on it on here. I probably not have noticed if it hadn't been pointed out, I was just having so much fun with the game.

lacktheknack:

No, it doesn't. If it did, then it would have gotten it without review-bombing it. Besides, it's still better than most RPGs.

I shouldn't even need a flame shield, seeing how we all understand how opinions work, right?

ANGRY GLARE

Agreed.

jakko12345:

genericusername64:
But Dragon Age 2 deserves A 4.2
http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/dragon-age-ii

Honestly, they should just remove every 0 or 1 rating on there. 99% of them are probably totally worthless

Double agreed.

I have to disagree with this practice because in order for this to stand Metacritic has to sacrifice it's neutrality by making a determination of what is a "fair" review, rather than itself being a neutral party that just collects the data.

So called "metabombing" has been around for a very long time, and hasn't been a factor until fairly recently when some companies wound up getting metacritic scores they didn't like, especially at a time when they are finding most paid reviewed sources to be being met with skepticism by their followers. Overall coordinated bombings have always been part of the process up until this point.

It should be noted that even during a bombing, people need to actually care enough to be following the source discussing the target, and agree with it enough to go through the trouble of acting to lower it's rating. That right there makes it fairly legitimate on something like Metacritic. Especially when you look at the opposite side, with fanboys who will do the same thing to lavish praise on a product that doesn't deserve it. You don't hear game producers complaining about users lavishing unqualified praise on a product. You also don't see Metacritic removing perfect 10 scores that don't include any justification... largely because no companies are going to complain about things that work towards making
them money.

Basically, Metacritic needs to remain neutral of everything for it to work. I'll also say that GiantBomb itself runs advertising and such on it's site, and also pays it's writers (or so I believe) which means that you have to take it's complaints with a grain of salt since like most sources that comment on gaming nowadays, they are dependant on the guys they are supposed to be watchdogging for their own livelyhood. The whole "Gerstmann scandal" kind of became the end of any illusions of journalistic integrity on the part of those covering gaming in a professional manner.

The way I see things is pretty simple, Metacritic lets people rate as long as they are users, and not connected to the industry as employees or in the media (they have a seperate ranking for professionals). Any title is going to have both it's lovers and haters, and then people in the middle. If more people show up voting a 0 than a 10 it tells you something right there, more people are motivated to bomb the game, likewise if more people are voting 10s then that also tells you that there are more people fanatically in love with it.

Dragon Age 2 was a huge mess, and I think brought a lot of this to a head because it showed a HUGE differance between paid-off reviewers, and actual fan reception. It was a case where the people who hated the game outnumbered the fanboys by a substantial number. I think this shocked "big money gaming" which is why you have it working through sources like "Giant Bomb" to pressure the independant rating systems to become biased in the favor of the industry.

While games like Bastion might be good (haven't played Bastion yet), you have to understand that just because some people REALLY like them does not have anything to do with popular response. If more people are motivated to say they don't like a game than feel they need to praise it, that results in a negative score. I'm guessing Bastion just didn't appeal to everyone that played it, and many really hated it, even if it also developed a dedicated following.

Overall I think Metacritic is pretty fair (or is when they aren't singling out reviews for removal) because "bombers" and "fanboys" tend to balance each other, especially when it comes to big titles.

This is understandable, but there's still the problem of games getting higher scores than they deserve. Ex: FFXIII.
How do they plan on fixing that?

LTK_70:
I struggle to believe that metacritic user reviews have the slightest bit of credibility. It's bad enough that they water down critical reception of a game to a 100-point scale, but doing the same with random people? Please.

Removing such random scores is a good thing. I for one won't miss the zero bombs of fanboy wars of game franchises, consoles, and the PC master race as well as nostalgia ridden people that bomb a game sequel because it wasn't a carbon copy of the beloved first game.

"Boo change is bad! ...(incoherent rant about developer fixing problems from the first game that said people complained about before but now said problems are gold) -zero-"

Zeros are for games that are literally broken, meaning glitched up so much that it isn't playable, not for games where people happen to not like and to them it is unplayable, because of some new features that the developer saw as new and/or better.

Zeros aren't ammunition for people to use to in their poo flinging rants against some developer that has "done them wrong".

Therumancer:
Basically, Metacritic needs to remain neutral.

The problem is that Metacritic's system can be abused. The site is taking an effort to get rid of the reviews that do no actual reviewing at all, empty posts or one sentence reviews.

It can still be neutral, but it is in dire need of a team of bitchslappers to go "No, don't fuck about guys. Write a proper review about why you disliked this product or you can fuck off"

genericusername64:
But Dragon Age 2 deserves A 4.2
http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/dragon-age-ii

Yeah, that's the most honest, reasonable score for that turd I've seen in any review.

5/5 my aching ass. You still fail for that, Escapist.

If they do it for 0s with little to no content they should do the same for 10s. Most users scores are more accurate than the reviewer scores are anyway as the fan boys tend to cancel each other out and you can read reviews by other players that are closer to your own opinion.

Therumancer:

Dragon Age 2 was a huge mess, and I think brought a lot of this to a head because it showed a HUGE differance between paid-off reviewers, and actual fan reception. It was a case where the people who hated the game outnumbered the fanboys by a substantial number. I think this shocked "big money gaming" which is why you have it working through sources like "Giant Bomb" to pressure the independant rating systems to become biased in the favor of the industry.

What paid off reviewers? Because I was so appalled at the horrible user reviews for such a wonderful game like DA2, I read every single user review as well as the professional ones.

The majority of the professional reviewers were on par with it and it averaged out to a fine score between 79 and 82 across the platforms. There were a few "professionals" that let nostalgia from the first game cloud their reviews and scores, giving quite biased reviews.

On the user review side, scores from 0 to even 2's were invalid, at least 99% of them. They rated the game only in comparison to DA:Origins. They didn't like dialogue, fresh party characters, graphics(don't see where that comes from), different style of storytelling, and slightly changed combat, so oh no it gets a bomb type of score. They didn't grade it how it stands on its own.

When I review a game, if it is playable from start to finish it gets at least a three, because those first few points fall in the range of playability based on will the game run to completion. The next 4 points are based on how the game plays on its own if I'm not considering it a part of some franchise. If the game is part of a franchise, that is where the final 3 points play.

I gave DA2 a 9/10, one point lost because of the small amount of dungeons, I felt everything else was perfect. It gained all the points for the comparison section, because I felt it vastly improved upon the things I saw as errors in DA:O(Dialogue, leveling, combat, and bland/cliche party characters).

0_o Waitwaitwaiiiiiit!!!

WHO THE HELL WOULD BOMB BASTION'S SCORES?!?!? BASTION WAS EFFING AWESOME!

.......Whoever bombed it with 0s and 2s is a massive jerk.

This just in: people on the internet are assholes and idiots. In other news, the sky is blue, water is wet, and birds go tweet. Turn in at 11 for our special report on Antarctic, cold or not?

It's nice to see them try and clean up their website but inevitably stupid because any review founded upon random input from generic people is going to be a mess. It's a mess getting reviews from people who are paid to review and know how to review its far worse when you just poll random people.

Glademaster:
If they do it for 0s with little to no content they should do the same for 10s. Most users scores are more accurate than the reviewer scores are anyway as the fan boys tend to cancel each other out and you can read reviews by other players that are closer to your own opinion.

You'd imagine that if people who were planning to rate a game 0 are put off by having to actually write something, then those planning to give games a 10 would be as well.

I think this is quite a good idea, especially if one of the requirements is that people actually write something. This is especially true if there is a minmum amount that has to be written. I hate it when someone has reviewed something without giving any indication of why they've given it that score. Even a cursory argument is better than nothing.

I just ignore the user scores and only pay attention to the critic scores, regardless of how well-moderated the user scores are. But many other people don't, and props for pointing out that malicious review-bombing can be devastating to smaller indie developers.

Granted, no filter system is perfect (even with human oversight), but a good way of weeding out the malicious reviews is to clearly state what 0/10 reviews are FOR, and then look to see if the written accompaniment to the reviews doesn't match those criteria. For instance, whether something is "derivative" is subjective, but "derivative" is not a valid reason for a 0/10 review, especially if it's the worst flaw the reviewer can think of.

The clever thing to do would be to delete any review that gives a 0 or a 10, but don't tell anyone you're doing it.

Instant fanboy reduction right there.

Good. Now ban all of the reviews that give 10 games a year perfect scores.

Yeh sounds good enough
Now can we ban reviews on good games too?

The best way to fix metacritic, and other review aggregate sites? Close them down. These things are a blight.

Why the fuck would you review bomb Bastion? That game is fantastic! Probably the same assholes that review bombed Portal 2 for their "Day 1 DLC". Ban those assholes, I say! And ya, mandating written reviews would at least let people see which reviews can be taken more seriously.

sir.rutthed:
Why the fuck would you review bomb Bastion? That game is fantastic! Probably the same assholes that review bombed Portal 2 for their "Day 1 DLC". Ban those assholes, I say! And ya, mandating written reviews would at least let people see which reviews can be taken more seriously.

because it is a popular indie game and that cannot exist to idiots

rsvp42:
I hate when this sort of bullshit happens. It happened on DA2 and it's downright confusing. But I guess it's the last recourse for disgruntled gamers when trolling forums no longer satisfies them. Poor games industry; the type of customers that buy their products are also the kind that sit around on the internet and bitch every time a game underwhelms them. Give it a reasonable score that matches its quality? Naah, I'll just slap a zero on it and accuse them of destroying all my most cherished gaming memories.

Pretty much this. I see the problems with most of the games I've played but people act like the games have beaten and raped their mothers. It's ridiculous.

The average metacritic user in a nutshell.

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In other words, this is good news to hear.

Therumancer:
It should be noted that even during a bombing, people need to actually care enough to be following the source discussing the target, and agree with it enough to go through the trouble of acting to lower it's rating. That right there makes it fairly legitimate on something like Metacritic. Especially when you look at the opposite side, with fanboys who will do the same thing to lavish praise on a product that doesn't deserve it. You don't hear game producers complaining about users lavishing unqualified praise on a product. You also don't see Metacritic removing perfect 10 scores that don't include any justification... largely because no companies are going to complain about things that work towards making them money. ...
Overall I think Metacritic is pretty fair (or is when they aren't singling out reviews for removal) because "bombers" and "fanboys" tend to balance each other, especially when it comes to big titles.

I'll vaguely agree with you in principle, but this part isn't quite right. And I'll show you what I mean. Compare and contrast the following two statements:

"Hey! I really hate that guy! Let's go egg his house!" (break stuff, whatever)

"Hey! I really like that guy! Let's go wash his car for him!"

Both statements propose reasonable actions based on attitude (though probably hinging on the empathy with the immediate audience i.e. co-conspirators). Both statements suggest approximately equal amounts of work being done. However, one of those statements stands out as being a little out of place in our modern culture. Why is that?

I'm not going to wring out why this equals anything. Mostly because I'd end up bad-mouthing Anonymous again. Then people would accuse me of social meta-bombing - which I might as well use as another example. If you had to compare the number of times you heard people being criticized in their absence, with the number of times you heard people being praised in their absence, what would the ratio be?

Metacritic STILL is not the problem.

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