Valve Comments on Positive Steam Review Bombs

Valve was faced with a unique problem recently that pertained to review bombs, though it didn’t deal with the typical waves of negative reviews. Instead, Valve had to address an instance of what looked to be a positive review bomb. A large number of players left glowing reviews for Assassin’s Creed: Unity in the wake of the Notre Dame Cathedral incident, many of them referencing Ubisoft’s charitable acts that included giving the game away for free and donating towards the reconstruction of the landmark. Though the reviews were often for the game itself and Ubisoft’s actions at the same time, it begged the question of whether a positive review bomb should also be regarded as off-topic.

Reviews for the Assassin’s Creed game started pouring in after Ubisoft announced its donation plans and said the game would be free on the PC platform for a while. The game was free on UPlay, not Steam, but users turned to Valve’s platform anyway to leave their positive reviews. After looking at the reviews, Valve said it wasn’t sure that the wave of responses qualified as a review bomb. The number of players active in the game increased significantly alongside the influx of reviews which differentiated this situation from the typical review bomb.

“Without reading the actual reviews, the data here all looks very much like a game that's gone on sale, or received an update,” Valve said. “It's seen a spike in players, and as many people have come to realize, there's a fairly good correlation between player count and user reviews - if you get more players, you're going to get more reviews.”

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The post discussed other potential positive review bomb situations such as Christmas-themed games that received an influx of positive reviews around that season. The Notre Dame situation brought in more players and reviews in a similar way. Valve said it’s still not sure what to do about the positive review bomb since it doesn’t fit the mold of past bombings, though it acknowledged that the company’s definition of a review bomb might be off. Regardless, Valve’s decided to leave these reviews as they are.

“As a result, we've decided we're just going to leave it alone,” Valve said. “But hopefully, this post has helped you understand that thinking behind why we've ended up there.”

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