Steam: Valve Vows to Fight Review Bombing

Off-topic review bombs will no longer count towards a game's Review Score on Steam, according to Valve.

Valve, the company behind the Steam digital gaming platform, is taking a stand against review bombing. Valve has been working on refining its user review system and its aggregated “Review Score” for a while, and now the company has publicly come out against off-topic negative reviews from users.

Based on feedback from some recently-conducted analysis, Valve execs have stated in a blog post that they’re “ready to make another change” to the user review system. In Valve’s own words, “That change can be described easily: we’re going to identify off-topic review bombs, and remove them from the Review Score.”

Valve goes into a lot of detail in this blog, offering this handy definition: “a review bomb is where players post a large number of reviews in a short period of time, aimed at lowering the Review Score of a game. We define an off-topic review bomb as one where the focus of those reviews is on a topic that we consider unrelated to the likelihood that future purchasers will be happy if they buy the game, and hence not something that should be added to the Review Score.”

Valve has built a tool that can detect anomalous activity on a game’s Steam page – for example, a sudden surge of negative reviews for a game that previously had a positive Review Score. When an issue like this has been detected, a team at Valve will look into it personally, remove anything off-topic from the Review Score, and notify the developers.

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Review bombing is a hot topic in the entertainment industry at the moment: over on the movies side, Rotten Tomatoes recently made changes – around the time of the release of Captain Marvel – to stop its users from expressing opinions on a film prior to its release. User review systems like the ones on Steam and Rotten Tomatoes have long been a prime location for targeted down-voting campaigns from dissatisfied groups, and it’s nice to see both of the companies involved taking a stance against off-topic and unfair postings.

After all, these services exist to help audiences decide which pieces of entertainment are worth their time and money. They shouldn’t be a place for off-topic posts and hate campaigns, and hopefully, these changes will help these areas of the web get back to servicing their true purpose.

We’ll keep you updated if we hear more.