"Off-topic review bombs" will no longer count toward Steam user scores

Steam “off-topic review bombs” will no longer count towards a game’s Review Score

Valve is working on a few more changes to user reviews as well, but they'll be shipped out at a later date.

It works like this: when the team at Valve notices an influx of negative reviews, it will investigate. The review graph will also indicate which segment of offending reviews has been removed from the score.

In the statement, Valve offered examples of subjects that will be deemed "off topic" in the form of DRM and EULA changes.

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".

Once the team determines that the reviews for that day or week are off-topic, all reviews including legitimate ones will no longer contribute to the overall score.

After collecting feedback and analyzing data, as it does, Valve has announced plans to tackle the problem by identifying review bombings, and excluding them from overall review scores.

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Should it find a slew of what it considers reviews unrelated to the likelihood that future purchasers will be unhappy if they buy the game, it will not count toward the review score.

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.

Valve understands that the on-going nature of games means that users need to be able to edit their reviews after they've been posted, so it wouldn't be effective to remove that ability. It only takes a minute to dig into those reviews to see if the issue is something you care about. Again, the reviews aren't being removed, they just won't be factored into the overall score. Because review bombs tend to be "temporary distortions", all reviews will be caught in the net. 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.

Review bombing has been a serious issue for devs, with Devotion being the latest game to be hit.

Despite the simplicity of the proposition, Valve's blog post goes into some depth about what they consider off-topic, and the potential flaws of the new system. It emphasized that it is not deleting reviews, but only changing the way it calculates review scores, and said that it has decided "not to unilaterally grandfather in what's happened in the past", which is presumably why the Metro reviews remain untouched despite clearly being review bombs.

Steam users can still see raw review scores, even those that are considered off-topic if they choose.

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