Metacritic promises stricter moderation to tackle 'abusive and disrespectful' user reviews

Aloy and Seyka
(Image credit: Sony)

An optional kiss in Horizon: Forbidden West's DLC, Burning Shores, has unfortunately inspired a lot of frothing homophobia in Metacritic's user reviews section. In response, Metacritic owner Fandom says it's taking steps to counter review-bombing campaigns and instances of "abusive and disrespectful" reviews. 

Forbidden West has yet to make its way over to PC, but reactionary rants are far from exclusive to PS5 games. If anything can remotely be deemed as "woke", you know there are going to be folk absolutely losing their shit over it on Steam and Metacritic. 

Now, amid the people complaining about an optional kiss that they never have to see are plenty of more reasonable complaints, and Metacritic is not taking action against them—even if it is pretty outrageous to give a game 0/10 just because it wasn't your cup of tea. Its focus is on tackling instances of personal attacks and bigotry, which are against the site's terms of use. 

In a statement to Eurogamer, Fandom addressed the issue. 

"Fandom is a place of belonging for all fans and we take online trust and safety very seriously across all our sites including Metacritic. Metacritic is aware of the abusive and disrespectful reviews of Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores and we have a moderation system in place to track violations of our terms of use.

"Our team reviews each and every report of abuse (including but not limited to racist, sexist, homophobic, insults to other users, etc) and if violations occur, the reviews are removed. We are currently evolving our processes and tools to introduce stricter moderation in the coming months."

Stricter moderation is clearly a necessity because judging by how much homophobia is still present among the user reviews, and how much of it has been allowed to stay up for several days, the moderation team doesn't have the resources or time to handle it. Indeed, there are still reviews complaining about Aloy's sexuality on the main page. What Fandom doesn't explain, however, is how it's evolving Metacritic's processes and what tools it will be using to deal with people using user reviews to spout hate. 

I'm not convinced anything will really stop these things from happening. Improvements are possible, of course, but tackling this problem will be an ongoing task that's unlikely to ever really erase the issue. Meanwhile, user reviews get a bad rap and it becomes hard for prospective players to find informative critiques from fellow gamers. Hopefully the hate won't be quite as virulent in the future, but it remains to be seen how much Fandom can really clean up the user reviews section. 

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.