Steam Baffled By Positive Review Bombing For Assassin's Creed Unity

It's a question nobody seems to really know the answer to.
AC Unity
What does one do against 'positive' review bombs? Are they 'review bombs' at all? Ubisoft

It’s the conundrum of the century, the ‘chicken or the egg’ question of our time.

Steam, as a platform, has always been about freedom for its users. A great deal of what made Steam the powerhouse it is today can be attributed to its sense of community, despite the large variety of titles and genres within the platform. It’s no wonder that, given this tool of freedom, open channels of communication, and a large number of like-minded people, Steam has for better or worse influenced some major aspects of PC gaming as a whole.

Case in point – review bombs. In this day and age where loot boxes, microtransactions and predatory corporate greed run rampant, review bombs can be great tools to make users’ voices heard. The recent debacle of Deep Silver pulling out Metro Exodus from Steam at the last minute to make it an Epic Games Store exclusive, despite the fact that some people have already made the decision to purchase it, is a great example. Since users can’t outright review the game because it doesn’t exist on the platform, the other Metro titles were targeted instead. While its effects in the long run are debatable, there’s no going past the fact that the numbers behind review bombs are reflective of a very unhappy userbase.

Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2 also fell victim to review bombing, due to its sequel becoming an Epic Games Store exclusive for the first six months. Photo: Gearbox Software

But what happens when a ‘positive’ review bomb happens? A few weeks back, tragedy struck Paris as the landmark Notre Dame Cathedral was ravaged by a fire. French video game company Ubisoft pledged its commitment to seeing the restoration of the landmark by donating a large sum and releasing Assassin’s Creed Unity, which was set in Paris, for free.

What followed was users flocking to its Steam page and giving the title positive reviews, regardless of the game’s quality. I don’t think the title is a bad game at all, though, if I’m being honest. Certainly there are some people who find it, bad but still reviewed it positively anyway.

Steam has addressed this conundrum with a lengthy community blog post, which states, at the very end, why they feel that it doesn’t really fit the category of a review bomb. Here are some of the highlights made within the blog post.

Steam defined ‘review bombs’ as “an event where players post a large number of reviews in a very compressed time frame, aimed at lowering the Review Score of a game.” The Steam developers wondered at the time whether there would be any ‘positive review bombs,’ but until the Unity debacle, all evidence pointed to no.

The large number of positive reviews for Assassin’s Creed Unity was considered at one point to be off-topic, and a debate formed  to determine if it did fit the criteria of a review bomb, regardless if it’s positive or not.

Steam has correlated review bombs with player count, which means that negative review bombs could easily be found due to the number of actual players playing a certain game. In the case of Assassin’s Creed Unity, data showed that with the emergence of positive reviews, player count also rose significantly, which meant that part of the positivity really can be attributed to the game and not only the consequence for its uptick in relevancy.

After deliberating about it, the post is still unclear as to whether or not what happened can be called a review bomb, and its resulting positive reception be marked as off-topic, which is the fate of all review bombs made whenever they are negative. It certainly doesn’t help that the term ‘review bomb’ was made due to the negative connotation associated with it.

The post concludes with Steam deciding to leave the scores alone, and maybe it’s for the best. While it’s true that Assassin's Creed Unity hasn’t really changed much since its last updates, player perception towards it may have shifted over the years. I certainly think that there are people who found the game to be good once they got to play it, and as such it’s kind of hard to argue against it being an actual ‘review bombing’; people actually came out to play Unity, and not just plague its review page to protest against it, or the developers, or the publishers involved.

You can check out the rest of the lengthy post here and make up your mind on the issue as well. Is this a review bomb or not? The collective sanity of everyone invested in this is at stake.

Source.

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