Steam Review Bombing

Valve has had to deal with an uncommon occurrence over the last several years in the form of review bombing, where users bomb a game with negative reviews for any number of reasons (usually from bad business practices or some other related instance). Well, Valve now has a way to deal with review bombing.

In a recent post over on the Steam news page, engineer Alden Kroll rolled out how Valve was planning on fixing (or at least alleviating) the issue involving review bombing games on the platform. Kroll rolls out the solution after a lengthy explanation of how the user reviews work and what review bombing does, writing...

Starting today, each game page now contains a histogram of the positive to negative ratio of reviews over the entire lifetime of the game, and by clicking on any part of the histogram you're able to read a sample of the reviews from that time period. As a potential purchaser, it's easy to spot temporary distortions in the reviews, to investigate why that distortion occurred, and decide for yourself whether it's something you care about.

The histogram feature shows the game's review trajectory for positive and negative feedback. The graph shows a charted course on how users offer positive reviews and negative reviews over time, using simple blue and red chart graphs. Some criticized it for being complex while others criticized it for not really explaining why review bombs exist.

However, as outlined in the post and in the quote above, it's mentioned that users can see for themselves where the review bomb takes place exactly. It doesn't explain why, though. Users would have to go fishing around the net for the whole shebang on why random animal simulator #4168 is getting massive amounts of negative reviews.

Kroll explains that Valve has talked internally about some other solutions, including locking down the review pages when the bombs start happening in short order. Other solutions included hiding the review score on the store page, but that didn't seem very consumer or user-friendly, especially if the review bombing is taking place due to a game's performance or some bug-related issues, similar to NBA 2K18 and Batman: Arkham Knight on PC, both of which received lots of negative user reviews for technical and performance related problems.

However, Valve's solution to "fixing" or at least addressing the review bombing is more-so related to controversial bombs that may not entirely deal with what's happening directly with the game on the Steam service. For instance, GTA V was review bombed for the corporate decision that Take-Two made to block single-player offline mods.

While some may want the review bombing fixed, it also helps warn people away from actual practices utilized for a game on the service. An example would be Bethesda's paid-mods for Skyrim, which was implemented on Steam, or the new Creation Club for Skyrim and Fallout 4. Those directly affect users on Valve's service, so it's hard sometimes to separate off-site drama from on-site drama. Either way, Valve hopes that Steam will be a slightly better place to navigate for potential consumers with the new review graph in place.

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