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Review bombing is becoming more and more common, so Valve are looking into ways to sort out the mess that Steam user reviews are becoming. They've announced: histograms.

Steam user reviews have become a weapon. Review bombing is when users flock to a Steam page and make negative reviews, in hundreds and possibly thousands. It often happens when a big name Youtuber says bad words about it, so people in their droves go to the Steam page and make the review score dive.

The problem here with Valve's addition, is that people need to know what review bombing is. Let's face it, the vast majority of PC gamers likely have no idea what it is. I would go further, and say that the majority also see "Mostly Negative" and probably won't look at a game again.

Here's an example of ARK: Survival Evolved:

They show it by default, if there's been an issue. Otherwise, it requires a button click to open.

Another interesting point from the Valve post, is this:

Hopefully this post has been useful. It's quite possible that we'll need to revisit this when we move to personalized review scores, where our prediction of your happiness with a purchase is based upon the games you've enjoyed in the past. In the meantime, we'll keep a close eye on the community conversation around reviews.

It will be very interesting to see what Valve mean by a personalized score. They're much smarter people than me, but I don't really see how you can personalize a review score. One possible they may do, is give it their own overall score based on the type of game it is, the types of games you've review positively and things like that.

Naturally, a fair few developers aren't too happy about Valve's changes. I've seen a number of developers on Twitter make jokes about it, like this one:

Devs: help we're getting review bombed!
Valve: good news guys, we're gonna fix it!
Devs: yes finally!
Valve: we'll add a graph!
Devs: NO

— 'Shark Hugs' Eniko (@Enichan) September 19, 2017

I'll be honest, that made me chuckle a bit.

You can find the lengthy news post about it here. It's nice to know Valve are thinking about it at least, there's not a massive amount you can really do to combat such a thing. The thing is though, throwing more and more data at users isn't going to help, it's going to end up overwhelming people.

Valve did think about locking down reviews temporarily, like the stock market would do if something's up. The problem is, it would likely just carry on once they unlock it. So Valve, for now, has decided to do nothing about them.

The crazy thing is, I'm not personally sure if developers should be shielded from this tactic. I mean, if a game is being reviewed bombed, you can be 99% sure it's for a properly valid reason. If a developer is pulling some shady crap, I want to know about it and reviews are a damn good way to see that.

Take ARK: Survival Evolved again as a prime example. The game released, with many issues. The game has features on Linux that are completely broken and have been for some time. That's on top of the vast amount of issues on the Windows version. If Valve did make steps to stop people making reviews dive and it stayed at Very Positive, would you be happy after spending £49.99 to end up finding out negative reviews pointing out all the flaws had been stopped? I don't think so.

However, there's obviously times when a game is review bombed for idiotic reasons too. It's not a one size fits all approach and I'm not saying it is.

What are your thoughts?

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h54 20 September 2017 at 12:33 pm UTC
The only thing Valve cares about is selling games. If the game is an overpriced, broken, hot mess (Ark: Survival Evolved), I don't think anyone should be surprised that Valve are going to ensure it sells by manipulating reviews.
Beamboom 20 September 2017 at 12:39 pm UTC
I long for the day when the world no longer put way, way waaaaay too much value into "user reviews". Most regular users are unable to consider anything obectively, nor do they have proper ability to put things into context and weight the various elements of the game.
Thats why they have only implemented a "thumb up / down", cause in case of most users asking for anything more nuanced than that is too far fetched.
Nanobang 20 September 2017 at 12:51 pm UTC
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liamdaweI don't really see how you can personalize a review score.


Perhaps it might work like Netflix does, where one's former reviews and the reviews of others with similar tastes are used to math-magically predict one's future reviews? It's been pretty accurate for me---both the old 5-star system and the newer Up/Down Thumb system. Though, I've only ever reviewed a handful of the games I've played, but I regularly rated movies at Netflix, which stands to reason. (I could have seen a lot of Netflix videos in my approximately 1800 hours of Payday 2 gameplay.) Ultimately a personal review---if one good one could be created for Steam---system would undo review-bombers as any negative reviews would simply impact themselves.

If nothing else, I think Valve should separate Early Access reviews from Final release reviews and winnow out all the morons who give bad "reviews" based on incompletely made games.


Last edited by Nanobang at 20 September 2017 at 12:52 pm UTC
webcreature 20 September 2017 at 1:01 pm UTC
FredOThis brings up the question about the purpose of user reviews - are they there to assess the game itself, or also to rate Developer/Publisher behaviour? Take GTAV as an example, they shutdown the OpenIV Mod site and Steam reviews got bombed hard. The game itself was unchanged, but suddenly it had mixed reviews.
For me, Steam user reviews have sadly become a lot less trustworthy than they ever were. I can't imagine Steam without them though, because without them you are blind to how good the game really is from a user perspective.

I don't know.. Maybe they should just give the review more options than "up" or "down", and also add the possivility for additional negative and positive remarks - one line - browsable through users, that open the corresponding review with a click. That way you were able to state: "Nice game, loved it for about 50 hours, but I don't like the Mickey Mouse voice of the robot character."
Doc Angelo 20 September 2017 at 1:44 pm UTC
TcheyAlso Steam Review is stupid by itself, Yes/No is not enough, their should be at least 5 steps, from really bad to really good. I sometimes gave a negative, only because the score was "mostly positive", and i didn't want to make it higher, because in my opinion, the game was "mostly positive", not more, but not less.

Also, some games have negative score, only because they are not for everyone's taste, but by themselves they can be great if you like the genre...

A certain percentage chose to give a game a positive review. I think it's not a good thing to feel the need to "correct" the outcome of others people honest review about a game. What you think the game should be rated at is just your personal opinion. If you switch your rating based on how others rated it, your review is not honest.

For example, you might enjoy a game, have played it through. You think it was quite good, not GOTY worthy, not bad - just a plain good game you generally enjoyed playing. Now, on Steam, 100% of other reviewers gave it a thumbs up. Your review would practically say: "I enjoyed this game, but I think at this specific point in time too many other people rated it positive, therefor I rate it negative. It's good, not very good, not bad. Just good. I don't recommend it because others are recommending it."

For me, that wouldn't be helpful at all.

TcheyIn the current system, and i am for bombing reviews : if they exist it's not because a famous youtuber said so, it's because, to my experience, the bombed game did something very wrong toward its community. ARK and P.A. Titans are two example i "bombed down".

Dota 2 got bombed not because the developer did something to Dota 2. Dota 2 was review-bombed because Valve didn't announce a new game of a completely unrelated game series when the fans of that game series expected it. Do you support that also?


Last edited by Doc Angelo at 20 September 2017 at 1:50 pm UTC. Edited 5 times.
Jahimself 20 September 2017 at 2:11 pm UTC
Review bombing can be bad for some devs but it is also a democratic tool for dev who try to screw their consumers. For instance GTAV was being moded and became 10 times more popular online than it used to before those mods. And then Rockstar decided to ban online mods. Until they got review bombed and then allow again online mods.

On the other hand a popular youtuber who did not like a type of game because it is not his kind of game and says bad thing about the game, it can influence badly viewers opinion and the overall review of the game.

IMO I don't care about reviews, and just give an eye to it, to see how far the reviews are wrong as regard to the game.
Very often you can see some game with bad review which are all time top games. And sometime you can see some stupid japanese anime with girl with big boobs, very bad story... having 99% of positive review...

So really people should not look much to users reviews as they are not much significant.

It's better to read real journalist reviews, which become very rare as big publishers buys the reviewers final score.

I have generally far better understanding of whether a game would suit me or not while reading some articles on gamingonlinux than 100 user reviews.


Last edited by Jahimself at 20 September 2017 at 2:12 pm UTC
Eike 20 September 2017 at 2:14 pm UTC
BeamboomI long for the day when the world no longer put way, way waaaaay too much value into "user reviews". Most regular users are unable to consider anything obectively, nor do they have proper ability to put things into context and weight the various elements of the game.

Most users are totally able to judge if they had fun, and what I want of a game is fun.
The only problem left is judging if their fun will be my fun, too.

When I want deeper information, I read game magazines.
Beamboom 20 September 2017 at 2:29 pm UTC
EikeMost users are totally able to judge if they had fun, and what I want of a game is fun.

Usually if one read a review it is to determine if the game is something for themselves, not if the writer had fun or not. A professional reviewer writes for the reader, not themselves. A review (in the true sense of the word) will give you enough context to figure that out - an amateur text usually do not.

User "reviews" are usually just a description on how they perceived the game. Furthermore you don't even know if the writer has understood the genre at all, nor if they have the proper experience to have anything related to compare with.

EikeThe only problem left is judging if their fun will be my fun, too.

Exactly. That is the problem. And with that problem, it renders the chatter they call "user reviews" pretty much worthless.

EikeWhen I want deeper information, I read game magazines.

And that is a suggestion I fully support!

(edits: Typos, typos. Always typos.)


Last edited by Beamboom at 20 September 2017 at 2:33 pm UTC. Edited 2 times.
Ardje 20 September 2017 at 2:57 pm UTC
BeamboomUser "reviews" are usually just a description on how they perceived the game. Furthermore you don't even know if the writer has understood the genre at all, nor if they have the proper experience to have anything related to compare with.

EikeThe only problem left is judging if their fun will be my fun, too.

Exactly. That is the problem. And with that problem, it renders the chatter they call "user reviews" pretty much worthless.

EikeWhen I want deeper information, I read game magazines.

And that is a suggestion I fully support!

(edits: Typos, typos. Always typos.)
I take Ark as an example... every time an update comes at least 50% of the haters are going to say they want their money back...
Ark really is the best example on how toxic a community can get if it grows too big.
Yes, there is a lot of things wrong with ark, especially for linux. But if you see the hate reviews on a timeline you will always see a release date followed by a lot of hate.
And there are a lot of other games too with hatereviews.

If I look at a game, I first sort reviews on positive to negative to get a clear view of the nice reviews. Then I go into the community discussions.
I only look for 3 things: 1) positive reviews, 2) abandon were messages in the community, 3) linux problems.
If I have to look at the negative reviews I'd rather go outside for a walk. <salty>Most people are too stupid to enjoy a game</salty>.

Edit: typos.
And one more PS:
I sometimes get so fed up of hate reviews (not negative reviews, but hate reviews), I just sort them on negative to positive, sort out the hate, and mark them as not useful.


Last edited by Ardje at 20 September 2017 at 3:01 pm UTC
Marky 20 September 2017 at 3:05 pm UTC
Honestly, the whole idea of having a score connected to reviews is broken.

It creates a field where creators and reviewers are constantly going to find ways of going one over the other in "cheating the system" - there will never be a perfect equilibrium where all reviews are fair, reliable and accurate. Never mind the fact that everyone's taste keeps diversifying all the time and most reviewers don't know how to review properly.

I much prefer Liam's and TotalBiscuit's way of reviewing where there's no score, and a focus of showing the game as is, warts and all with notes on how the reviewer values it.

EDIT: added some spacing.


Last edited by Marky at 20 September 2017 at 3:06 pm UTC
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