Steam changes review scores to histograms in an effort to fight review bombing

    
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We are all alone.

If you’ve never heard of “review bombing” on Steam, we envy you. The process goes something like this: Something causes a certain group of users to get very angry about something related to game, which could be the actual content of the game, the content that’s not in the game, or something entirely outside of the game like takedown orders being filed against a streamer who won’t stop spewing racist hate speech. The users then flood the game’s Steam reviews with negative feedback, downvote all positive reviews, and upvote all negative reviews in an effort to reduce the game’s overall positive rating.

This is, needless to say, a bad thing. A new post from Valve explains the tools the team used to look at this trend and how to possibly solve the issues.

In short, Valve doesn’t necessarily want to lock people out from reviewing for a period of time, especially since there’s no hard-and-fast rule to follow and pretty much any review-bombed game reverts back to its original rating over time. However, the developers do want to make it clear when this is happening, and thus they’re changing how reviews are shown into a histogram displaying the trend over time. So if a game is receiving a usual stream of positive reviews and then a sudden negative spike, you can hopefully tell what’s going on, at least.

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zeko_rena

I don’t have a problem with review bombing, I often go in and look at the reviews to see what the company has done to cause such an outrage and usually its a change I don’t like so then I don’t buy the game :)

Of course sometimes the reasons are just weird in which case after reading a few reviews and finding out its something silly I then scroll down to the actual reviews and decide.

On the flip side if they are finding ways to improve it then go for it as well, does not bother me, I don’t use just Steam for my reviews anyway, usually look at multiple sites and a lot of YouTube videos before a purchase.

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Jack Pipsam

I know this is done on Metacritic time to time over dumb stuff, Jim Sterling has an entire series dedicated to the act of user scores on Metacritic when a project gets hit by an onslaught of rage.

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Dug From The Earth

This “over time info” isnt going to change if i buy a game or not.

What it tells me is this

Devs made a game players thought was good
Devs did an update that upset a lot of the fans.

Why would I want to buy a game that was updated/patched into something that upset a lot of people?

Im still going to read the negative reviews to see if the complaints are about something related to the game or not.

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Minimalistway

There are cases where the developer said something the players didn’t like, you know .. politics, so a group of players decide to start a campaign to give the game the lowest rating.

Rating these days is not always about how good or bad the game is.

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Dug From The Earth

Yes, there are always exceptions, which is why I stated that id still read the negative reviews to see if the complaints were actually related to the game or not.

Honestly though, there have been plenty of times that I havent bought something because I didnt want to financially support someone who I felt didnt deserve my money because of the choices they have made in their life. IE: If a dev was outwardly racist, or a hatemonger.

On the flip side, ive bought some games, despite all the people griping, because I didnt have an issue with the same things they did. For example, ive got no issues with the Destiny 2 cash shop issues many players have.

The over time data steam is giving us is nice, but I already was researching things beyond just the listed “overwhelming negative” recent steam review rating.

Review bombs in many cases are something that SHOULD happen, especially when devs take a good game, and make it horrible.

IMO Marvel Heroes is a perfect example of this.

what-4
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what-4

All a spike in negative reviews tells you is that SOMETHING happened that caused the internet to review it poorly. You do not honestly believe that every review bomb is a legit response to an actual problem?

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Dug From The Earth

No i dont, and you would realize that if you actually read through my entire post(s)

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Kawaii Five-O

How convenient that this change would manage to happen just as Fallout 4’s overall review score was about to change to ‘Mixed.’

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Tobasco da Gama

There have been dozens of different cases of review bombing by petulant children lately. It’s not some conspiracy, it’s a legitimate problem that Valve is solving by giving customers more information to base their purchase on.

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what-4

Does FO4 deserve a low score as a game because of something valve wants to do to monetize mods?

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Arktouros

I dunno. Review bombing is ultimately self defeating in that it’s made me largely ignore reviews at this point. It’s like when Metacritic became a meme. As always I prefer to just find a youtube video showing game mechanics and game play and then make my own decision on whether it’s a buy, wait for sale or pass.

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Alex Willis

Review bombing is such a rabbit hole, and that hole almost invariably (and inexplicably) leads to a festering swamp of shitheads and MRAs and GamerGaters. Other than legitimate bombing cases (hello there, No Man’s Sky) that come as a surprise after years of hype, I have found review bombs to be the result of Fickle Simpsons Mobs upset at some perceived slight (Developer Hates Us Because We Loved That Exploit), or reacting to some ridiculous understanding of a violated “free speech”. The PewDiePie Firewatch debacle is a perfect example of a community of jackasses rallying behind a repeat offender and jumping to the defense of bad behaviour.

The thing is, these reviews do matter and people to consider them. I know I do — or, I used to. You have to really understand the rhythms of Steam to appreciate how and when a game is getting bombed. So I know after 13 years (!!!) of using Steam that you have to parse a lot of data to get why someone’s vote would “count” (if they put 300 hours into something but vote it down during a period of “upset” at recent changes, maybe that person has lost perspective; or if they upvote it after 0.8 hours, maybe that person is 11 years old and is distracted by the sound of jangling keys). But someone new might not have that experience. So yeah, this is a good move.

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Tobasco da Gama

This is a pretty sensible change. They’re not even hiding reviews, just giving visitors to the page more information to use when interpreting a game’s average rating.

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rafael12104

Hmm. Ok, sure. That will help those intelligent enough or invested enough to look at the data. But, meh, I think most people don’t look at information in that way. Basically, all they want to see is a thumbs up or down. Lol.

If I’m interested in a game, I don’t go to steam for reviews or feedback. There are plenty of sources which are much more credible and reliable. But, yeah, I have a vested interest. Not everyone does when it comes to gaming.

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David Goodman

I think it’s a good start and the right general direction, but it is typical of Valve to take the path that required the least amount of work for them and more work on the part of the consumer (even if that increase is minor, it’s still there.)

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Hirku

Okay, whatever floats your boat, I guess. I don’t approve of review bombing but it doesn’t affect my ability to decide if I want a game or not because it’s easy enough to skim past the BS. The user review fix I’m still waiting for is the addition of some middle ground rating(s) instead of thumbs up/thumbs down, love/hate, victory/death, etc.

deekay_000
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deekay_000

there’s a fair number of consumers that won’t even look past the amalgamated score and only buy mostly positive reviews scores games.

and tbh actually wading through the actual reviews is itself a pretty useless endeavour.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Not if you know what you are looking for. Yes, there are a lot of lame reviews, but some reviewers take time with their reviews, making them as complete and informative as possible. You can learn a lot about a game, much, much more than professional reviews tell you, from the Steam reviews.

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Armsbend

If I scroll over a game on steam I know nothing about and see mixed I don’t ever click the game. On steam – mixed is a huge neon F score. I figure I can simply pass it and will none the worse for wear.

So it affects me a bit.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

Sadly Valve have become kings of shovelware.