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Valve takes new steps to combat review bombing

By Bubbajim · 11 replies
Mar 16, 2019
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  1. Steam’s review and rating system is a key part in many gamers’ decision-making when they are on the hunt for a new title to play. But while most gamers would expect the review scores to be indicative of the quality of the game, thanks to review bombing that’s not always the case.

    Review bombing has become a popular method for consumers to voice their displeasure en masse about decisions or actions taken by developers that don’t necessarily pertain to how well a game plays. For example, when Metro Exodus publishers recently announced the latest installment would be a timed-exclusive on the Epic store, thousands of reviewers piled onto the older Metro games on Steam to vent their frustration.

    While it’s understandable for people to use whatever methods available to them to make their voices heard, review bombing is a phenomenon that’s bad for developers and bad for gamers who only really care about the quality of the product they are buying.

    And so the stage is set for Valve’s latest move to combat review bombing. In an announcement on Friday, Valve gave details for their new tool: “we’re going to identify off-topic review bombs and remove them from the Review Score.”

    Despite the simplicity of the proposition, Valve’s blog post goes into some depth about what they consider off-topic, and the potential flaws of the new system. One such flaw is that any genuine reviews posted during what Valve deems to be a ‘review bomb’ will be filtered out alongside the off-topic posts.

    It’s clear that Valve understands that people don’t want to just be silenced or have negative posts censored, so the reviews themselves aren’t being removed. Instead, those reviews just won’t count towards the overall rating.

    For gamers who do care about the more theoretical and political aspects of game publishing, Valve is including the option to turn off this feature in the Steam Store settings. This will mean the system doesn’t affect the ratings you’ll see – bombs and all.

    Permalink to story.

  2. gamerdood

    gamerdood TS Member Posts: 16   +15

    And the Steam fanboys are turning on their master... scrolling through the comments on the official thread, they are not happy. The majority of comments I saw from people AGAINST the new system were, not surprisingly, the most irate and vicious people on there.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,139   +3,559

    Seems like the real issue is how to moderate BOTH groups. Identifying those that actually buy the games and giving them one comment per game (editable) might be a good start but Steam is going to have to face the reality that while they have some good games they also have a lot of junk. They are victims of their own greed and could have corrected the issues long ago, but they have chosen to chase the all mighty dollar are are now faced with the reality of pay back .....
  4. gamerdood

    gamerdood TS Member Posts: 16   +15

    It's why I always root for GOG (my favorite store front)... yah, they don't get the AAA's cause the publishers like to pretend nearly every game on Steam, outside Denuvo releases, doesn't get cracked on day one, but... I can also browse their catalog and see more quality games without the cesspool of content Steam has been flooded with... GOG does have some turds, but Steam's "allow anything and everything" policy has really hurt the store... I've gone to buying the majority of my games on GOG and buying the AAA releases like Sekiro, etc. on Steam
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
    Dimitrios and BSim500 like this.
  5. mcborge

    mcborge TS Guru Posts: 550   +451

    Steam will give us the option to turn this off for now but how long will that last. Maybe we users can protest this with a total review embargo.
  6. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 598   +1,201

    Unfortunately, "Review bomb" is a subjective buzzword thrown about mostly by journalists and publishers who are very much biased to only one side and make zero attempt at discerning from justified vs unjustified. Eg, it was only a negative review backlash against "RedShell" spyware cr*p that forced devs to come out and say "OK, that was a mistake, we're listening to your negative feedback and have just issued a patch to remove it". To me, that's justified whereas an unjustified is something like Chinese players downvoting a game purely because it was made by a Taiwanese company. We'll probably start to have an intelligent debate on "review bombing" when sites (inc Techspot) are actually capable of separating predictable consumer backlash of anti-consumer antics by developers vs genuinely unrelated "cultural pile ons".

    Secondly, having read through Steam's definition of "off topic", it's obviously mostly out of self interest than "helping consumers". Eg, Steam doesn't class "criticism of a game's DRM" as on-topic simply because 95% of games on Steam have DRM. And of course devs want to exclude anything that mentions "EULA's" because under data protection laws like GDPR, they may now have to disclose if their game contains heavy-handed telemetry / spyware in the EULA - which they increasingly want to include (without admitting to want) for reasons of pushing even more micro-transaction "engagement" that works best when they have a detailed socio-economic profile of the person playing the game. If that latter stuff sounds outlandish, read below link and see what lengths the industry seems willing to go to and how "merely mentioning EULA = unfair review bombing" seems to be an attempt at pro-active censorship of future criticism of driving micro-transactions even harder via aggressive socio-economic profiling:-
    FF222, EClyde and psycros like this.
  7. vayeate

    vayeate TS Rookie

    This is probably more about Steam being able to sell more games.
    EClyde likes this.
  8. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,759   +632

    Censorship by any other name. It's bad cause I say it's bad
  9. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,759   +632

    They are not facing any reality check. They are laughing at this. Greed? Who is not greedy when $ is involved
  10. PcePce

    PcePce TS Enthusiast Posts: 75   +24

    The review system has always sucked. Why are our only choices Do/Don't Recommend? It's heavily biased toward positive reviews, given that reviewers already made the decision to buy/play the game in the first place (in most cases).

    If Valve really cares about the quality of their review scores, they should enable more nuance to the rating system. People who liked a game enough to drop money on it, generally are not a reliable or objective source of 'quality', whatever that means.

    This seems like a misguided attempt to 'fix' something they get a lot of complaints about, many of those probably coming from developers/fans of games getting review bombed. Valve seems to think we need them to tell us the correct opinion to have about a game, and when we can express that opinion. While they're at it they should do something about the positive review bombing that new releases so often get. But only negative reviews can misrepresent quality? What a joke.
  11. avioza

    avioza TS Addict Posts: 197   +148

    I tend to ignore the useless reviews on steam anyway, taking time to go through the middling reviews and find the well written and reasoned on ones.

    Usually if you find a reviewer who plays most of the games you love you can trust their review more.
  12. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,645   +304

    Got to say I'm happy about this, simply because I do look at Steam reviews sometimes, and when there are tons of them talking about something that is totally irrelevant to gameplay, I certainly want to make them disappear so I can get opinions about the game itself.

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