Metacritic has removed over 6,000 negative user reviews from Hideo Kojima’s recently released Death Stranding. The user score, which was at a 5.1 yesterday with 9,355 negative reviews, is today at a 7.4 with only 2,958 negative reviews, as discovered by Reddit user “argande.” While we can assume Metacritic was taking action against “review bombs” that impacted Death Stranding, the aggregate reviews site has not announced anything about the removals or why they felt the need to do it. There’s also no real indication as to why they removed those specific ratings compared to the other negative reviews that still remain. They have also not adjusted any other games (that we know of) that are victims of suspected review bombs recently.
Review bombing has become a particularly heated topic in the games industry in the past few years. The practice involves users gathering together to dump negative reviews on games in protest of something, oftentimes without actually playing the game themselves. Review bombing is traditionally tied to an agenda more than the content of the actual game (users aren’t wasting their time rating games that are actually bad), as users seek to send a message of protest against publishers, developers, and content or practices that they don’t agree with. The legitimacy of user reviews has often been called into question thanks to the lack of nuance and verification if the user even played the game. Users often use a score of 1 for “didn’t like it” and 10 for “loved it” which defeats the entire scale and tips the balance of the averages.
Several places have begun to put in measures against review bombing. Popular PC storefront Steam allows users to only see reviews between certain time periods and will put up warnings and not count reviews towards a total if they believe a game is being review bombed. For example, they discovered that Borderlands 2 was being review bombed after the announcement that Borderlands 3 would be an Epic Games Store exclusive, so they negated all reviews from a certain time period following that announcement from the total user score.
Metacritic recently put out their list of the top 50 games of the decade, according to critic reviews. They also released the list of the top games of this year, with both Resident Evil 2 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice leading the pack in ratings.