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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?

15 Likes, Who?
Comments
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BOYSSSSS 21 September 2017 at 7:23 am UTC
BeamboomNo. It's a massive difference. Period. If you read serious (commercial) gaming sites witha real editor and run like a serious traditional media house, their reviews holds a standard far, faaaaaar above 98% of absolutely everything you read from amateurs on Steam, Amazon, Metacritic and a gazillion webshops with a "community".

Writing, and reviewing is a craft, just like any other craft. It requires something. Practise. Understanding. Insight. An editor. Directions. Professionalism. A structure, and above all an ability to view something as objectively as can be, and as nuanced as required.

Sure, there's bad apples everywhere, and mistakes are done by everyone. But we gotta get AWAY with the attitude that "anyone can do anything". We live in an age where there seem to be an opinion that anyone can be a news reporter, scientist, journalist, reviewer, we don't need any particular insights at all. No, quite the contrary, even! So they seem to think.

/rant off for now. I'm sure this topic will return again. And again. And...
Standard? Professionalism?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3pQ0oO_cDE
EDIT:When Doom 2016 first came out I remember game journalists saying how hard it was

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOjXaAZHEQE

EDIT:Edited the Links (How do you embed a youtube video?)


Last edited by BOYSSSSS at 21 September 2017 at 7:35 am UTC. Edited 4 times.
webcreature 21 September 2017 at 1:28 pm UTC
finaldestTo be fair, Review bombing is justified and I have taken part in it on 1 occasion in relation to GTA5 modding. Crappy behaviour should not be tolerated and review bombing is effective in this regard.

Valve should just keep the current review system as it stands.

I don't really pay a great deal of attention to steam reviews as I generally check out the games forums and watch game play reviews on YouTube. I do find it useful for screening out bad games though.

Review bombing, as it is done, is a sledge hammer to punish any (sometimes small) detail of the game, or even the behaviour of the developer with a big blow. In my opinion this leads to political-correctness-washed games and silent developers, or maybe people learn to disregard Steam reviews before that, because of all the noise in the system. I'm not sure I want this.
By the way, threatening with DMCA actions is a sledge hammer too. Which one is better?
And why should GTA5 be a bad game to me, when I'm not into mods at all?
Eike 21 September 2017 at 2:01 pm UTC
webcreatureIn my opinion this leads to political-correctness-washed games and silent developers

It seems the latest big bombing was in favour of rascism, not in favor of decent behaviour.
GustyGhost 21 September 2017 at 2:53 pm UTC
EikeIt seems the latest big bombing was in favour of rascism, not in favor of decent behaviour.

Can you link some of these allegedly racist reviews?
webcreature 21 September 2017 at 3:19 pm UTC
Eike
webcreatureIn my opinion this leads to political-correctness-washed games and silent developers

It seems the latest big bombing was in favour of rascism, not in favor of decent behaviour.

That's a special case... Developer fought with a wrong tool for a good reason, and get's fought with another wrong tool for that. It's the stuff escalations are made of, and that, although most of the combatants propably agree that racism is stupid,
14 22 September 2017 at 1:25 am UTC
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Steam reviews are more like reviewing the player experience with the game, not exclusively the game itself. Delivery of games and information is a lot different than cartridges on shelves and paper magazines. We have more voice to developers and publishers than merely our dollars. A fantastic marketing campaign could have sold tons of games in the past and the negative reviews would only sway the folk that A) weren't hyped enough to get it right away and B) care enough to look for reviews. So, sales weren't affected as much by reviews. Today, it's different. We can react immediately, both positively and negatively. I mean, what are the alternatives? Do you want bad reviews to be censored? Do you want negative feedback to a developer or publisher to be secret so nobody can see? I don't. I'd have to go to other review sources that seem more trustworthy.

People can be really mean sitting behind a computer screen. That's true. People can also jump on a hate bandwagon. But censorship is not the answer. Locking your review score isn't the answer either, since developers can continue to deliver or remove content and change anything in the game.

Personalized reviews might be the best thing anyone can think of right now. I'm sure it'll be optional and configurable.
Eike 22 September 2017 at 8:10 am UTC
AnxiousInfusion
EikeIt seems the latest big bombing was in favour of rascism, not in favor of decent behaviour.

Can you link some of these allegedly racist reviews?

I don't care to get deeper into the Mud Of The Day. I'm only debunking the myth review bombing would only be used in favor of decent behaviour ("political correctnes" ).


Last edited by Eike at 22 September 2017 at 11:50 am UTC
Beamboom 22 September 2017 at 12:52 pm UTC
Purple Library GuyLeaving alone for a moment the oddity of claiming that writing a few cogent paragraphs on any given topic requires "A structure", are you seriously trying to claim that the average professional game reviewer has all that stuff?

Can you tell me what you would describe as a serious review source? No offence but I do get the impression that you can't have read many at all? Not intended as a jab, but I really do wonder.

A proper review consist of far more than just a few paragraphs. And yes, a good review is very structured, typically with an introduction that gives you the gist of the game before going into the details, and then also in a very structured way in the "order of importance", much in the way of how the structure of a new article should be. It should also cover the whole game, and all aspects of it.

And all this should be written in an entertaining way, while still staying on topic and above all write for the reader, so that the reader can make judgement if this is something for him/her. If on top of that you can write your reviews in a way that makes them differ from other reviewers, well then you got a winning formula.

It's not like this is black magic, but yes it does require an ability to write, structure and maybe above all moderate yourself.

Amateurs often writes far too long (too little entertaining) or way too short, spend too much time on unimportant details while just glancing over the important bits - or even forget them altogether.


BOYSSSSSStandard? Professionalism?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3pQ0oO_cDE

So, what do you want me to do now? Link to amateur writings that makes zero sense or are written after only playing through the tutorial? Or, what's your point?

You must introduce the ability to see nuances. I've never claimed that everyone are professional, that no mistakes are done, or that there are no bad writers that somehow has earned themselves a paid job as game reviewer. Quite the contrary.

What I am pointing out, is that the average level of reviews coming from a serious publisher is way, waaaaay higher than the average coming from a "community site". Miles. A different planet.
That doesn't mean I claim that all amateurs are imbeciles and illiterate. There's absolutely those who even should write for a professional outlet cause they are really good. They just aren't even NEAR the average from that segment.

And now I've not even mentioned fake accounts by "guerrilla marketeers" who are paid to write either trash about the competitors or good about their customers products. Or those who are flattered by freebies and feel an obligation to return the favour. Or those who really are just defending their own investment (a very, very common thing).

But I know, I know I am fighting an uphill battle here. Cause the sign of the times are that everyone believes they can be anything and nothing requires anything, education is a thing of the bast, just start a blog or a youtube channel and all of a sudden you're a news reporter or an authority on your subject.

Cause, the professional media are just paid and bribed and yeah Lord knows what's going on there. Fake news, fake news!
In the meantime, amateurs are the primary target for modern marketing, simply cause they are so, SO much easier to sway/bribe than traditional media. Oh, the irony.


Last edited by Beamboom at 22 September 2017 at 12:57 pm UTC
Purple Library Guy 22 September 2017 at 5:29 pm UTC
BeamboomAnd yes, a good review is very structured
Ah, I see what you mean now. You sounded very much like you were talking about an organizational structure.
You seem to be making a bit of a "No True Scotsman" argument. You point out all the cases and factors which make most "professional" reviewers fail to live up to the standards you raise, but then insist that we should think and act as if they all did.

There are actually other problems with professional reviewers, that can set in even if they're the "unicorn" case of having all the excellent qualities and advantages you list all rolled into one semi-mythical reviewer and simultaneously has made no concessions to "the industry". For instance, professional reviewers whether of movies, games or whatever, are jaded. Their very expertise tends to cause them to experience games differently from the typical gamer and look for different things in a game. They will put a high value on novelty because they have seen the setups that became cliche so many times before. But many gamers, particularly the more casual, have not, and so if a classic setup (whether in terms of mechanics or story type or whatever) became cliche because it was basically a good one, it will be a good thing for a casual gamer but a bad thing for a typical professional reviewer. To put it a different way, gamers will be looking more for "is it fun?", while reviewers will inevitably start shifting towards "is it interesting?"

On average this sort of problem doesn't outweigh the extra effort put into a full review or the experience involved, no. But I think your position, which basically seems to be that amateurs should shut up and listen to their betters while nobody should ever read what mere players of games say about them because it's almost all worthless dribble (although you concede sometimes somebody speaks who really belongs among the elect and so doesn't count) is also somewhat distorted. And really, if professional reviewers, with their many advantages and platforms and whatnot, can't get people to pay attention . . . whose fault is it? Ehhh, truthfully probably not theirs, there's a lot of systemic stuff going on, but you're talking like it's somehow immoral for an amateur to successfully get people to read what they say.

More broadly, I think that the position that the problem with modern times is the failure of technocracy and the rejection of expertise, is mistaking a symptom for the cause. In these times, expertise and authority are increasingly rejected because they are not trusted. One frightening manifestation of this is the rise of people who believe all kinds of fascist bullshit instead because they don't have a good alternative source of truth (and because some groups are actively taking advantage of this failure of trust to try to gain power through demagoguery). But the problem is not the lack of trust--the problem is that many of the technocrats and experts really are untrustworthy, that they have served money and power at most people's expense. People may be thrashing around failing to find workable alternatives, and some of the amateurs that rise instead may not know jack--but the fact is, people have been hosed for a long time and the job of many experts has been to explain, while billionaires are pissing on our heads, that it's raining and anyway we should be grateful for the "trickle-down" effect. Blaming the amateurs for things falling apart is misplaced. The amateurs are a failing attempt at salvage of a situation that was falling apart anyway.


Last edited by Purple Library Guy at 22 September 2017 at 5:33 pm UTC. Edited 2 times.
namiko 25 September 2017 at 4:56 pm UTC
Purple Library GuyBut the problem is not the lack of trust--the problem is that many of the technocrats and experts really are untrustworthy, that they have served money and power at most people's expense.

...

Blaming the amateurs for things falling apart is misplaced. The amateurs are a failing attempt at salvage of a situation that was falling apart anyway.

Sorry for the late reply, but I'm hoping IPFS would help this situation:
https://ipfs.io/

IPFS may help the situation in the future.
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