Home Gaming Metacritic accused of using OpenCritic’s data without permission

Metacritic accused of using OpenCritic’s data without permission

2 min read


OpenCritic is the newest video game review aggregator on the block, and since their inception they’ve implemented a ton of features that make it one of the more appealing and east to use aggregators. We use them as an example, for review round ups, and at the bottom of our reviews for the meta average.

It seems that perhaps they’ve become too easy to use – because the big daddy of them all, Metacritic, seems to be using OpenCritic’s data. Unfortunately, without permission. So suggests OpenCritic’s Matthew Enterhoven, who sent us an e-mail yesterday outlining the accusations.

“We didn’t know if we should be proud or outraged when we took a look at Metacritic this morning and saw that they had OpenCritic’s review data and information on their site.

“On the positive side, we were excited to see another industry giant stand alongside companies such as Insomniac Games, Nvidia and Telltale in presenting OpenCritic as an authority. However, we’re frustrated that we did not receive recognition and have requested that they either credit OpenCritic or begin licensing our API and databases.”

OpenCritic has an API that pulls reviews from sites (including ours!) for publication on their aggregator – while Metacritic still does it by hand, so it generally takes quite a while longer to populate. The people doing that handiwork may be using OpenCritic to make their lives easier. Only, you’d not notice.

“If you can’t see how they copied us, we wouldn’t blame you – we make subtle, near-invisible changes to various review data to tag it using a system we call ‘horsemen’, Enthoven says in the press release.

“For example, with PCGamer’s Blood and Wine review, we added a redundant slash after pcgamer.com. With Twinfinite’s review, we capitalized the “W” and “B” in the review URL.


“We can’t detail every example as it would give away our tells, but these two are notable: Metacritic’s Blood and Wine page currently has these exact horsemen listed, leading us to believe that they’ve begun sourcing reviews from OpenCritic. These changes don’t interfere with the user experience and are unique to OpenCritic.

We checked to make sure that these links did not appear on popular websites such as Neogaf and reddit. We also feel confident in claiming that we listed these URLs first. As with most games, OpenCritic was faster: in this case, three hours faster.”

These little tells are small details that cartographers and the like used to use – little faux details – that would tell if a map or other sort of work had been copied. And they’ve been used by OpenCritic here to find Metacritic guilty of cribbing.

Curiously, since news of this broke via Twitter and other sites, Metacritic has removed the evidence. Hmm.

Last Updated: May 26, 2016


  1. Pariah

    May 26, 2016 at 10:36

    Metacritic. GITS


  2. Admiral Chief Protector

    May 26, 2016 at 10:38

    Oh snap!


  3. miaau

    May 26, 2016 at 10:38

    Oxford did the same in a dictionary they published and got Google and a few other on-line dictionaries were in trouble, as they were presented with clear-cut evidence of copying.

    Also, Google Maps has run afoul of this practise several times.

    nothing new here, but really, hard work and IP must be recognised, MetaCritic.


    • Craig Lotter

      May 26, 2016 at 18:03

      What’s interesting here though, it isn’t really OpenCritic’s IP is it? OpenCritic is an aggregator after all.


      • miaau

        May 26, 2016 at 19:42

        They did effort to gather the results and that is work. You cannot take another companies efforts like that, permission and all that needed.


  4. Admiral Chief Protector

    May 26, 2016 at 10:39

    Should I burn this TShirt then?


    • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

      May 26, 2016 at 11:02

      You’ve lost weight since then O_o


      • Admiral Chief Protector

        May 26, 2016 at 12:22

        Lol wut?


      • BakedBagel

        May 26, 2016 at 12:44

        Stop trying to get in his pants dude.


    • JerryCurlanIsNice

      May 26, 2016 at 11:24

      That shirt is bad-ass… Burning bridges with those guys?


      • Admiral Chief Protector

        May 26, 2016 at 12:22

        Who, Metacritic? Nah.

        Who, Lagz? I can check out anytime but never ever leave 😀


  5. Kromas GG

    May 26, 2016 at 10:43

    Steam reviews for life!


    • Admiral Chief Protector

      May 26, 2016 at 10:56



      • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

        May 26, 2016 at 11:02

        Yeah, totally not biased…


    • oVg 4/10 Whippersnapper Post

      May 26, 2016 at 12:41



  6. Ottokie

    May 26, 2016 at 11:01

    Should be called “ClosedCritic” am I right?



  7. oVg 4/10 Whippersnapper Post

    May 26, 2016 at 12:37

    4/10 Uncharted 4 –Washington Post According to metacritic

    My brain is still confused


    “I saw this tweet from Metacritic saying that WaPo does give them scores, and gave them a 4/10 for this one. Despite me looking back and never seeing a score on a WaPo review, I now see on their Metacritic page, they do indeed have scores for a ton of major games. But again, you click through each review, and those scores are not reflected on the pages themselves.

    So what happens is that the Washington Post asks the reviewers for scores, submit those scores to Metacritic, but for some editorial reason, those scores are not published alongside the actual review online, hence the disconnect. This issue doesn’t seem to have come up before because most of their reviews don’t seem to be terribly controversial, so people don’t wonder or care why the score isn’t on the page, but now, in this unique situation, it’s become a problem.

    This seems like a bad policy on WaPo’s part, and has nothing to do with either Metacritic or the individual authors of the reviews. If they’re submitting a score to Metacritic, it certainly seems like it should appear in the published review somewhere. I can’t think of a reason why it wouldn’t. If an outlet wants to do unscored reviews, that’s great! But trying to do things both ways is bound to get confusing eventually, and that’s how we’ve gotten into this specific, strange situation.”


  8. MoreSlayer

    May 29, 2016 at 09:41

    That’s some hard-hitting news… “Meatcritic seems to be using OpenCritic’s data. Unfortunately, without permission. So suggests….” That’s some thin reportage….No comment from the objects of the story? Fishy….


    • JerryCurlanIsNice

      May 29, 2016 at 19:39

      Agreed – looks like an ad with the big logo splash – like an infomercial. Wiki says this new site is run by game developers at Riot Games. weird. I’m guessing there’s another story here…


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