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August 13, 2020
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Our indie game KUNAI got review bombed to a 1.7

by Benjamin de Jager on 02/19/20 10:38:00 am

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
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We are TurtleBlaze, a small indie studio behind metroidvania KUNAI for Switch and PC. On February 17, our Metacritic PC user score dropped from 8.1 to 1.7. We got review bombed.

As we started investigating the why and how, we learned that review bombing is a known issue. It has struck many games recently, however, it has generally impacted well-known games of large publishers such as Warcraft 3 Reforged, Death Stranding and Astral Chain.

Review Bombing is simple, says our bomber

The bomber that struck Insurgency Sandstorm also hit our game KUNAI. He explained on Reddit how he went about. The original post has been deleted, but here’s a screen grab:

Click here to read the Review Bomber's full statement

Another recent bombing was against AI The Somnium Files. The video One Man Single-Handedly Review Bombed A Game Over a Character Crush by youtuber YoungYea points towards the absence of certain security measures on Metacritic’s side that are also exposed by the KUNAI review bomber:

  • Game ownership is not verified, like it is with Steam user reviews
  • E-mail aliases such as Gmail are allowed, making it easier for bombers
  • Fake domains used in constructions such as mailinator are not blacklisted
  • Reviews coming from the same IP address are not flagged
  • There’s no check on the lifespan of these accounts

Why KUNAI was hit

This was no coordinated strike by a group of unhappy players wanting to make a statement of any wrongdoing on our side. KUNAI was randomly targeted by a single person claiming to be high and in a state of anger.

“I wanted to review-bomb a random game [...]. I have also done this to KUNAI, where I got it to a 1.2 on Metacritic”

Next Steps

We’ve discussed what steps we could take, as there are but a few.

First and foremost, we’ve reached out to Metacritic and shared all information we have about the absence of security measures in the user review process. We hope this may lead to a situation where review bombing can be prevented in the near future.

We also wanted to inform gamers that the current user score is not genuine. KUNAI has had favorable reviews from critics, fans and players all around. So go ahead and enjoy the game, and if you do, leave us a review on metacritic to counter the current score ^^.


Benjamin, Richard and Bram

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