OpenCritic is a new review aggregator currently in the process of putting all their features into place and establishing itself in the field. They announced recently in a blog post one of the other initiatives they have started, posting Review Embargo times for titles on their website. For those who do not know, review embargoes are essentially agreements not to publish something until a certain time—generally with the intent of allowing everyone to have time to finish the game without rushing as much and minimizing a hectic race to be “the first.” It also allows companies to focus marketing, especially important for indie developers who have limited opportunities to get in the spotlight.
OpenCritic states that they have gotten over 10 publications, who are being kept anonymous, to provide them with embargo agreements, and they publish the time the embargo expires on their website for some titles. The first two they were provided with were Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and Halo 5: Guardians. They are hoping to test several theories that have been passed around the gaming community such as: how embargoes correlate to game quality, how does the amount of time reviewers have with a game impact scores, or whether publishers manipulate review copy availability to different publications with what time they receive it at—over several years with this information. At this time, they confirmed that it appears that all publications are receiving review copies around the same time.
If you haven’t heard of OpenCritic, it is a new review aggregation site that has arisen with some interesting goals and ideas. OpenCritic plans on aggregating all major reviews (those who meet their audience metrics), regardless of whether they are scored or not. Additionally, they don’t have any weighting mechanism that is hidden like MetaCritic does, instead opting for a feature to allow users to set trusted review sites to be weighted more for them personally.
In the post they also provided some other update information, as they changed their mobile homepage layout and fixed several issues that were found throughout the site.
For those interested in embargoes, there are some details that might be interesting to note. While OpenCritic is posting the time for review embargoes, they do not appear to be posting any other relevant information that applies to it. In particular this is more for previews, and pre-release streaming and videos, which can have different embargoes for those as well as conditions. Those conditions typically include things like not revealing key story points, only discussing or showing material from the earlier parts of the game (or non-story portions), or only streaming at certain times for some modes. Given that OpenCritic collects a lot of pre-release media, such as trailers, previews, videos, and impressions, this is possibly important to note to help ensure there isn’t a false sense of knowing what is fully going on. To give an example on a streaming embargo we agreed to recently, on Halo 5, we could only stream missions 1,2,3, and 8, as well only play the multiplayer on stream at certain times.