Steam Is Changing Its Review System To Combat Review Bombing

Valve Steam Under Fire Rape Day

Each year, there's at least a dozen games that get review bombed on Steam as a means of protest. Usually, the method has been reserved to Chinese gamers vexed about poor or a lack of localization, but it's recently been adopted by all as a way to make it known to a developer or publisher that a game's community -- or at least a part of it -- isn't happy. We most recently saw this happen with Metro Exodus over the Epic Games Store exclusivity debacle, but it's happened to many high-profile games over the years, such as: NieR: Automata, Tomb Raider, Grand Theft Auto V, Crusader Kings II, Firewatch, and more.

Reviewing bombing isn't exclusive to the gaming industry, but it does seem to rear its head more often in it than other media industries, particularly on Steam. But this may be changing, as Valve is trying to minimize the tactic.

Today, Valve posted a new blogpost detailing some changes coming to the review system that it hopes will curtail review bombing.

"Some time ago we made some changes to how we presented the User Reviews for games, and their resulting Review Score," writes Valve. "We talked about those changes in this blog post. As we describe in that post, we want to ensure that players who've played a game can voice their opinions about why other people should or shouldn't buy the game, and that our summary of those opinions into a single Review Score should represent the likelihood that a future purchaser will be happy with their purchase."

Valve continues:

"Since that post, we've continued to listen to feedback from both players and developers. It's clear to us that players value reviews highly, and want us to ensure they're accurate and trustworthy. Developers understand that they're valuable to players, but want to feel like they're being treated fairly. We've also spent a bunch of time building analysis tools to help us better understand what's happening in the reviews across all titles on Steam. With that feedback and data in hand, we think we're ready to make another change.

"That change can be described easily: we're going to identify off-topic review bombs, and remove them from the Review Score."

According to Valve, a review bomb is when players post a large number of reviews in a short period of time, aimed at lowering the Review Score of a game. Meanwhile, an off-topic review bomb is when the focus of said reviews is on a topic that it doesn't think will be impactful in helping future purchasers of the game determine if they'd be happy with the product. And because of this, it doesn't belong in the Review Score, unless user opt-in to have off-topic Review Scores factored in.

For more details on how Valve plans on distinguishing between a review bomb (which is allowed) and an off-topic review bomb, be sure to check out the rest of the blogpost here.

As of right now, Steam users seem split on the new policy -- which is now live -- with detractors calling it anti-consumer.

Anyway, as always, you can let us know what you think by leaving a comment. Or you can hit me up on Twitter @Tyler_Fischer_ and let me know your thoughts there. Are these new changes by Valve good or bad?


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