OpenCritic Review Data May Have Popped Up on Metacritic

OpenCritic Review Data May Have Popped Up on Metacritic


Using a method straight out of a Tom Clancy novel, OpenCritic appears to have found Metacritic sourcing review data from their site.

When OpenCritic launched earlier this year, it looked they'd be playing David to Metacritic's Goliath. After all, Metcritic has been aggregating review scores for years now, and not just for video games. But OpenCritic appears to be gaining relevance quickly, especially if today's news is any indication.

In a statement released on Twitter today, OpenCritic announced that they had found "review data and information" from their site posted on Metacritic. How did they know it was their data? Well, that's an interesting story.

If you're a fan of Tom Clancy's work, you may remember that in Patriot Games, Jack Ryan was said to have invented the "Canary Trap," a method of writing sensitive documents that made it easier to find out who had leaked the information if it got out. In the real world, this is known as a "barium meal test," and it involves using specific "tells" in a document that identify it if re-used elsewhere. In years past, cartographers used fictitious towns on maps and phone book publishers inserted fake names for similar reasons.

That's what OpenCritic did here. They call their system "horsemen," and it involves making subtle changes to URLs and other data. Today, they published screenshots of that data appearing on Metacritic, which would appear to show that the long-running site was lifting data directly from OpenCritic.

OpenCritic says that they "have requested that they [Metacritic] either credit OpenCritic or begin licensing our API and databases."

It's a strange situation, but it does show that the aggregation game has a new player that's definitely worth paying attention to.


Hillarious. A site which only exists by taking all of the sources from GameRankings and Metacritic is having a tizzy fit because a few of their altered links ended up on a competitor's site. Moronic.

I'm rather confused. On one hand, yes, Metacritic avoiding work just by sticking with what OpenCritic aggregates is not really that nice, but what's there to be done? Do we just tell Metacritic to start collecting the same data they already have in the usual way? What's OpenCritic going to threaten here?

I wasn't even aware that aggregating review data was something that counted as a competitive market. I'm not even sure I can come up with an analogy for how silly that sounds. "I go to the food court with the brightest lights, who cares if it's all the same food!" Does that even work? This really sounds like a non-story.

What does the Escapist have in connection to OpenCritic?

There was that first article felating OpenCritic and saying how it fixed Metacritics problems. It felt more like an infomercial.

And now this, something that doesnt actually matter since its websites collecting data with one claiming that they got their data collected. Plus the whole, "Oh, look at how great they are at finding they got their jimmies rustled, damn OpenCritic, your ass is fine!" style of writting in the article.

Stop trying to make OpenCritic happen

I didn't even know about this site before this, but if it is just a different version of Metacritic it is very hard for me to care. Aggregate Scoring is absolutely toxic to the medium so let them both cannibalize each other.

Yeah, I got that sense too. Odd - Meta links to Escapist. Don't they? Wonder why they've jumped in to support the new kids? Fishy...


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