Monday, 19 August, 2019

Steam user reviews will no longer count 'off-topic review bombs'

Steam “off-topic review bombs” will no longer count towards a game’s Review Score “Off-topic review bombs” will no longer count toward Steam user scores
Sandy Mccarthy | 17 March, 2019, 01:08

And plenty of players aren't going to take kindly to the idea that DRM should be considered off-topic.

It works like this: when the team at Valve notices an influx of negative reviews, it will investigate.

What the new review graphs will look like. This is a broad enough definition of irrelevant reviews that it could include many things, but Valve has confirmed that it includes those complaining about digital rights management (DRM) like Denuvo.

Valve says it will do this by using its chart-based review bomb detection system - which previously only served to make review bombs more visible - to identify "anomalous review activity".

As explained in a blog post, Steam will try to minimize the number of "off-topic review bombs" on the user score displayed at the top of a game's store page by letting users opt-in through their account preferences to see all reviews counted.

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Valve is working to counter review bombing on Steam by removing what it considers off-topic reviews from the overall review score. This will unfortunately include reviews posted from non-nefarious individuals during that time period, though, because it "isn't feasible for us to read every single review".

It's unclear whether Valve will be selectively removing reviews left during a review bombing time period, hiding them, or doing nothing at all to them.

The "off-topic" criteria refers to reviews "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". Again, the reviews aren't being removed, they just won't be factored into the overall score. But review bombs "tend to be temporary distortions", it added, so the impact on the overall review score will be negligible, and the reviews themselves will still be up to read. To be clear, this will only impact what you see: You can not influence whether off-topic reviews are included in review scores for other people. At this point, however, the user reviews will still be live. It's possible the update isn't fully rolled out yet, although the new option to exclude off-content reviews from review scores is present; I've emailed Valve to clarify and will update if I receive a reply.

"We had long debates about these two, and others like them", Valve said.

Review bombing has grown in prominence over the years, giving players a much louder voice when issues arise. In the end, we've made a decision to define them as off-topic review bombs. "It's the same reason that we decisively ban partners who engage in review manipulation-customers need to be able to trust the system for it be valuable".

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