I’ve gotten a lot of use out of the Steam User Reviews system – I often find it’s a great way to get a “boots on the ground” opinion on a game so long as you can filter through all the tongue-in-cheek joke reviews that are bound to pop up. This combined with the aggregated recommended/not recommended score makes it quick and easy to determine whether or not a title will be worth the investment.
The way those scores are calculated has changed, however – as detailed by Valve Product Designer Alden Kroll in a post on the Steam Community forums, the aggregated recommended/not recommended score will no longer take into account the reviews of those who received the game for free – i.e. if the game was gifted to them or they played the game during a free weekend. This change will only apply to games that are listed for sale on Steam, meaning that reviews of free and free-to-play games will not be affected.
Kroll explains that the reasoning behind this change was to put the thoughts of “invested, paying customers” front and center.
These changes add to the overhaul the system received last year that allowed users to filter reviews by “Purchase Type”, letting them see just the reviews of those who bought a game directly through Steam or those who added the game to their library through a key activation.
Early responses to the changes have been mixed, with some stating that the move will do a lot to crack down on dishonest and ill-obtained positive reviews while others have argued that the new change will negatively impact legitimate developers and proposed that features such as a “Neutral” review option would have been a more effective means of patching the system’s flaws.
Kroll asks for users and developers to “let [Valve] know what you think” as always, so there’s every chance that these concerns will be addressed in the future.
Take a look at the Steam Community post on the new Steam User Review changes here.