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Today Valve launched Steam Reviews, a way for users of their gaming platform to voice their opinions on their games and share them with the Steam community. The feature is now in open beta and can be accessed by anyone with a Steam account.
Steam previously allowed users to write recommendations. This feature proved popular, with gamers contributing over 7 million recommendations. However, these evaluations were only visible to friends. Starting today, you can make your past recommendations into public reviews. Fellow Steam users can rate your reviews or leave comments.
You can write reviews for any games that you have launched via Steam. This means you don't necessarily need to have bought it. You can review a game that you received as a gift, played through Family Sharing, or tried out during a free weekend.
By simply restricting reviews to people who have actually played the games, Steam should filter out a lot of the troll reviews that plague sites like Amazon or Metacritic. On those sites, users often post terrible review scores on games they haven't even played in an effort to protest DRM or simply register their distaste of Call of Duty or whatever. Steam Reviews won't be free of negativity but at least they ensure that the reviewer has actually touched the game in question.
One thing I like about Steam Reviews is that they're not scored. You write your opinion on the game and then choose between a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Valve says in the FAQ for this feature that reviews will ultimately provide "an overall score or rating" for a game. Presumably the main page for a game will say something like, "75% of players recommend this game." That sounds more useful data than the Metacritic average, though Valve has no plans to remove Metacritic data from their listings.
Another good feature of the Steam Reviews is that they mention your playtime. Other Steam users will know if you only played an hour of the game you're crapping on. I'm glad Steam doesn't restrict users from writing reviews unless they pass a certain time threshold. Instead, they're showing that playtime information alongside the review and letting other gamers draw their own conclusions.
Steam also offers crowd-sourced walkthroughs and hints. Players can create, share and rate guides through the platform. They can also be accessed in-game through the Steam overlay.