Valve has made a new announcement on Steam about a growing problem on the platform: Review-Bombing. Valve states this is an issue because players aren’t criticising the game for its problems but rather something the developer has said online or done outside of the game. The aim of Review-Bombing is to lower the games overall score and rating on Steam. Valve is going to try to prevent this from happening in the future.
“one thing we’ve noticed is that the issue players are concerned about can often be outside the game itself.”
Valve states that many of these out-of-game issues aren’t relevant to the game itself and don’t add or subtract from the value of the game. However, they can still be real reasons why a player is unhappy with their purchase.
A good example of this is the recent Firewatch and PewDiePie controversy. The developer of Firewatch has issued a DMCA takedown notice against his Firewatch videos after PewDiePie used the ‘N-word’ on a livestream.
The blog post from Valve notes that the overall review score for a Review-Bombed game tends to return to where it was before. Firewatch, for example, was “Very Positive” but is currently “Mixed” due to the Review-Bombing. “This implies that, while the review bombers were unhappy with a decision the developer made, the purchasers of the product afterwards were often as happy with the game as the players before them,” explains Valve. When Review-Bombed games don’t return to the prior level then the company believes that the issue did genuinely affect the happiness of future buyers. As a result, the issue is being accurately reflected.
Review-Bombing makes it difficult to determine if a game is worth purchasing. Valve wants to fix this in a way that won’t stop players from voicing their genuine opinions about a game. You can read more information on this and some of Valves possible solutions here.