A three-person independent studio has uncovered just how easy it is for a lone user to review bomb video games on Metacritic after its PC game, Kunai, dropped from 8.1 to 1.7 on the scale.
Earlier this week, developer TurtleBlaze published a blog post on Gamasutra revealing that it conducted a little bit of an investigation when Kunai got review bombed, and found a Reddit post by someone who had not only bombed Kunai but also Insurgency: Sandstorm. The bomber actually detailed how easy it was for him to make 200 accounts (yes, 200) to bomb the score.
Unlike Steam and Amazon, Metacritic neither requires proof of purchase nor displays a verified purchase stamp when accepting user scores. All one has to do is create a temporary email address, rate a game (comments not required), log out, and repeat the process. The bomber further revealed that Metacritic does not flag IP addresses or fake domains, and doesn’t have a system to check account history and patterns. In other words, one could create an account for the sole purpose of awarding games low scores and it would fly under Metacritic’s radar.
While it’s not unheard of for unhappy players to band together and review bomb games over petty issues, Kunai‘s review bombing seems to be a product of sheer boredom.
“I wanted to review bomb a random game that I thought I could bring down to like a 3/10 or 2/10,” wrote the bomber.
When Kotaku reached out to Metacritic for a statement, the website responded with the following:
Metacritic takes issues of potential score manipulation seriously and has a number of policies in place to maintain score integrity. Moderators regularly review the site and remove any entries that do not fall within our guidelines in addition to a moderation queue where Metacritic users can flag unusual behavior. Moderators then review and remove any entries that violate our terms of service.
Metacritic didn’t say why it chooses to moderate hundreds and thousands of reviews rather than putting a proper system in place to weed fake accounts out.