Valve has announced it’s revisiting user reviews on Steam in order to combat review bombing. In a blog post, Valve wrote it will now “identify off-topic review bombs, and remove them from the Review Score.”
“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 continued. The company admits there’s still a bit of a grey area with this definition, so it’s developed a tool that “identifies any anomalous review activity on all games on Steam in as close to real-time as possible.”
After the tool has identified possibly troublesome reviews, it will inform Valve and the company will then begin an investigation. If Valve decides the user reviews are an off-topic bomb, the company will inform the developer that every review within the time period of the review bomb will be removed from the game’s overall Steam score. At this point, however, the user reviews will still be live. It will be up to the developer’s discretion over which are deleted.
The downside to this process is that every user review during an off-topic review bomb will be removed from a game’s overall Steam score, even the good ones. “But as we mentioned back in our first User Review post, our data shows us that review bombs tend to be temporary distortions, so we believe the Review Score will still be accurate, and other players will still be able to find and read your review within the period,” Valve wrote. Plenty of negative comments that focus on DRM or EULA changes will also be considered off-topic review bombings as well.
Developers who don’t want this new tool combing through their games’ comments and Valve declaring when an off-topic review bomb is happening can opt out of the process by going into their Steam Store options. Valve is working on a few more changes to user reviews as well, but they’ll be shipped out at a later date.