OpenCritic has always wanted to support audience reviews. Ever since our launch, the team felt it was important to find a way to distinguish between the critics' perception and the audience's reception. We've been watching carefully as systems like Steam and Xbox have iterated on their user review systems, while also exploring our own limitations.
Today, we're excited to launch moderated audience reviews. Anyone can now post reviews to OpenCritic provided that the game has been publicly available for at least 3 days.
What makes OpenCritic's audience review system different?
During discussions and development, one important value the team identified is that quality is more important than quantity. In our research, we found that out of the hundreds or even thousands of reviews listed on alternative platforms, few gave a thoughtful and well-written perspective. As a result, moderation became a key requirement. Developers put a lot of time and thought into their games, and critics put a lot of time and thought into their reviews; we want to be a platform that's focused on gamers that put a lot of time and thought into their reviews, too.
With that in mind, our review system will be moderated. No review will appear on game pages without a moderator's approval.
Another thing we wanted to do was add more context to reviews. Audience reviewers can specify additional information such as...
- Whether or not they beat the game
- How many hours have they played the game
- Whether they consider themselves to be a fan of the game series, developer, or franchise
- Whether they played mostly with friends, mostly solo, or a mix
How are you going to be fair moderators?
In order for a review to appear on OpenCritic game pages, it must meet the following criteria:
- Reviews must have a minimum of 30 words.
- Reviews must generally have correct English spelling and grammar.
- Reviews must be about the game for which they're written.
- Reviews cannot be posted within 72 hours of a games' initial launch.
If a review meets these criteria, OpenCritic moderators will approve the review. If a review does not meet these criteria, the review will still appear on your personal profile page and show you the reason that it was declined. If someone feels that they've been unfairly moderated, they can reach out to us for a re-review, or post publicly and start a conversation in the gaming community.
Why not just verify game ownership? Why do moderation?
Verifying game ownership is challenging, especially on PC, Oculus, Stadia, Twitch and Nintendo platforms. For PC, Stadia, Twitch and Oculus, we could not find a viable way to verify ownership without requiring users to install a desktop client. For Nintendo, we could not find a viable way to verify game ownership at all. Even if we could create initial integrations, we simply lack the resources to maintain them over time.
Additionally, we're not sure if game ownership is the best model. How many hours would one need to play Valorant or SMITE to be considered an "owner"? Do you "own" the game if you're subscribed to Xbox Game Pass? What do you do if your roommates own the game, but you've played with them often? When we started digging into the nuances around how we might verify ownership, we found several edge cases that ultimately required us to create arbitrary lines and policies.
How is the audience score calculated?
It's not. There is no audience score.
We'll explore things such as an audience score in the future. For now, however, we want to see how moderated audience reviews go and how other gamers use the system.
As always, please keep the feedback coming!