A new review aggregation site, OpenCritic, launched today, promising a dedication to transparency and customization. Though Metacritic isn't mentioned in OpenCritic's launch-day press release, the site seems to have been designed from the ground up to address the gaming world's complaints with Metacritic's domination of review aggregation.
“Gamers, critics, and developers alike have made clear their desires for a more industry-focused review aggregator,” OpenCritic founder, and Riot Games product manager, Matthew Enthoven wrote in a press release. “We hope to meet those desires by giving consumers personalized scores; humanizing the critics behind the reviews; and celebrating the games that the industry’s passionate developers have worked so hard to create.”
Aggregated scores have become so important to the industry that developer's bonuses are sometimes tied to Metacritic, and the user reviews sections have seen developer interference and mob justice. The Metacritic algorithm that combines scores is weighted to count some outlets more heavily than others—it's also a secret. OpenCritic seeks to do away with all that, offering a simple average of all numerical critic scores, and including the author's name on reviews. Users can build a custom score page selecting only from publications they trust.
Metacritic's influence in the games industry has been a controversial topic, and Enthoven's new project could become an interesting alternative. Though if it were to usurp Metacritic, there's nothing to say that OpenCritic wouldn't also become the same quality benchmark for publishers, albeit without all the mystery of a secret weighting system.