Metacritic is the big aggregate review site for movies and games known by the world today, but there’s a competitor that has been launched within the last year that’s been gaining some steam. OpenCritic is an aggregate review site that’s focused on giving you a more streamlined experience, and letting you choose which critics you want to follow. They’ve grown significantly in the last year, and they may have gotten the attention of the “big dog” on campus. Because, as listed by OpenCritic in an email to TechRaptor and on their twitter page, they’ve made allegations against Metacritic of using several of their sources on the site.
Specifically, Matthew Enthoven, Founder of OpenCritic, indicated in an email to various publications (along with the public statement) that he believes that a tagging system nicknamed “horseman”, has caught Metacritic using OpenCritic’s data and links. He cites two specific examples regarding the recent The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine expansion in reference to PCGamer and Twinfinite. He notes that while links did not appear on popular websites like Neogaf and Reddit in these cases, implied that Metacritic copied the data from OpenCritic in question, who got the links 3 hours before they did.
In this case, he specifically calls out 2 pieces of evidence regarding the archived Metacritic page to backup his allegations although he states there is more. If you note the PCGamer review, it reads as “he Witcher 3: Blood and Wine”. That’s specifically supposed to be the instead of he, but there’s a reason it’s missing: that’s because OpenCritic put a / in front of it. This turns the //T to be interpreted as a specific action, NOT the text in question, and so, the T is actually missing. That would mean if the information was copied and pasted, it would result in something like this. For example, /n can be interpreted as a new line character within the context of a word processor. Things get a bit more complicated in the web side of the world and the interpretation of ASCII characters, so you usually end up having to character escapes on it, usually leading with //. Hence, a // followed by a letter would be interpreted as a specific “action”.
This wasn’t the only example, as they also pointed at the Twinfinite review as well: specifically that they capitalized the W + B within the review URL. And lo and behold, that was found also in the data being listed on Metacritic, which is odd considering that’s only specific to how OpenCritic put it in their system. This would imply that once again, someone from Metacritic copied and pasted from OpenCritic in order to get it from their system, or drew from their page in terms of information.
The “horseman” system protecting OpenCritic’s data was put into place based on old cartographers that would add fake places to maps and phone books to protect their data, and it looks like OpenCritic has found someone using their data without their knowledge. As Matthew says, “We’re frustrated that we did not receive recognition and have requested that they either credit OpenCritic or begin licensing our API and databases”.
TechRaptor has reached out to Metacritic for response and will update this story as we know more about it.