Valve Goes After Review Bombs On Games Listed On Steam

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Steam's user reviews are getting overhauled in an effort to curb review bombing. This information comes from a new blog post from Valve, detailing the new changes.

A review bomb happens when a large group of people put negative user reviews for certain products like games or movies. The end goal is to make sure that the products do not get popular or reach sales targets. In 2017, for example, Dota 2 was getting negative reviews for the simple reason that some players believed Valve focused too much on Dota 2, resulting in Half Life 3 not getting developed.

Indeed, this problem is something that has long been prevalent in many industries, but this time it appears Valve is serious about ending it on Steam.

Two years ago, Valve made changes to User Reviews on Steam with the intention of addressing the issue of review bombing. While Valve did admit that negative reviews fulfill the objective of User Reviews, as they tell other people why they shouldn't buy a game, the company has since found out that some of the issue being raised are not related to the game at all.

Valve revealed in the post that since the first announcement, the company has listened to feedback from both players and the developers themselves. In response, Valve has developed analysis tools to give the company a clearer picture of what is happening review-wise on titles that are published on Steam. With this in mind, Valve said that it will be implementing another change, specifically they are "going to identify off-topic review bombs, and remove them from the Review Score."

The gaming community is divided on the issue, with some calling Valve’s plan anti-consumer and others supporting the move.

Given that there is some grey area when it comes to what players will talk about in their reviews, Valve has created a tool that identifies, in real-time, review activities considered as anomalous. The tool does not make any judgments as to why the review activity is anomalous, but instead informs Valve, who then send a team to investigate. Once the team has identified that it is indeed an off-topic review bomb, the team "marks the time period it encompasses and notifies the developer." This means reviews made during that same time period will be removed and not included in the Review Score calculation.

While this is indeed good news, this will also mean that good off-topic reviews will be removed and not counted in the score. Developers are given the choice to have this feature activated for their games.

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