Following a recent bout of Steam “review bombing” Valve have implemented some changes to hopefully prevent that from happening again.
Valve has done a lot recently to make reviews more accurate. Adding in the ability to see a game’s overall score as well as its average review score in the past two weeks was great as it was able to make potential buyers aware of any negative changes or updates to a game that previously would have been well received.
While this change was good, games on Steam were still subject to “review bombing”. This occurs when a developer or publisher does something that many gamers feel very negatively about. For example, GTA V got review bombed when publisher Take Two sent a cease and desist letter to a prominent modder.
Clearly, these reviews had nothing to do with the actual game. No update was made to GTA V to change it so the negative reviews were unrepresentative. Fortunately for Take Two, GTA V is insanely popular anyway so it didn’t take long for its review status to reach “Mostly Positive” again but this wouldn’t always be the case. Review bombing could be devastating for a smaller game if a small vocal group should act out against a developer because they disagree with the way they do things.
To counteract this, Valve has implemented histograms into Steam reviews. These graphs allow you to see the game’s average review scores over time and even give you a sample of reviews from any point. This way, gamers can see if the review score dipped because the game was made worse or just because a developer did something controversial.
Recently Firewatch was review bombed after the devs issued a DMCA on Pewdiepie.
In short, the new system will allow games to be better represented on Steam and avoid a loss of sales because of external factors that the public may not agree with but which may have little to do with the actual game.
You can read more about this new feature over on the Steam Community page.