Home Gaming News Valve Addresses Steam’s Negative Review Bombing Issue

Valve Addresses Steam’s Negative Review Bombing Issue


Behold Histogram Charts

With the rise in digital downloads of games and the amount of games as well, it is rather easy to ruin the reputation of a competitor through ‘review-bombing’ which involves throwing a ton of negative reviews (paid and fake ones, of course) on a gaming platform like steam. And it’s just not limited to unhealthy competition, either. Firewatch received a lot of negative reviews because of Sean Vanaman openly speaking against Pewdiepie after he accidentally uttered the ‘n word’ during a livestream. Well, this has been going for a while now, but after recent events like these that Valve decided to address the issue since it has increased in leaps and bounds:

One of the big problems facing Valve, as Alden Kroll said in a new blog post, is that review bombers are “fulfilling the goal of User Reviews” by expressing their opinions on whether or not people should buy a particular game. “But one thing we’ve noticed is that the issue players are concerned about can often be outside the game itself. It might be that they’re unhappy with something the developer has said online, or about choices the developer has made in the Steam version of their game relative to other platforms, or simply that they don’t like the developer’s political convictions,” he wrote.

“In short, review bombs make it harder for the Review Score to achieve its goal of accurately representing the likelihood that you’d be happy with your purchase if you bought them,” Kroll said.

Valve did look into a few solutions for the same earlier but those were ultimately ditched because the user experience would be too inconvenient to make the sacrifice worth it. So, things like removing review scores or locking reviews temporarily upon abnormal behavior was out of the question.

After going through the possible solutions, Valve decided to add new information about reviews of a game in the form of a histogram to compare the game’s positive to negative review ratio over its lifetime.

“As a potential purchaser, it’s easy to spot temporary distortions in the reviews, to investigate why that distortion occurred, and decide for yourself whether it’s something you care about. This approach has the advantage of never preventing anyone from submitting a review, but does require slightly more effort on the part of potential purchasers,” Kroll wrote.

“It also has the benefit of allowing you to see how a game’s reviews have evolved over time, which is great for games that are operating as services. One subtlety that’s not obvious at first is that most games slowly trend downwards over time, even if they haven’t changed in any way. We think this makes sense when you realize that, generally speaking, earlier purchasers of a game are more likely to enjoy it than later purchasers. In the pool of players who are interested in a game, the ones who are more confident that they’ll like the game will buy it first, so as time goes on the potential purchasers left are less and less certain that they’ll like the game. So if you see a game’s reviews trending up over time, it may be an even more powerful statement about the quality of work its developers are doing.”

It’s rather simple: just click the bar on any graph and it will pull a sample of reviews from the appropriate review, which makes it easy to tell what began the chain of massive positive or negative reviews about the game. This does add an ‘extra step’ if you really want to see what the game is like, but you be the judge of this decision; whether it’s good or bad.