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This article was published on September 20, 2017

Steam will now fight review trolls with the power of graphs

Steam will now fight review trolls with the power of graphs
Rachel Kaser
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Rachel Kaser

Internet Culture Writer

Rachel is a writer and former game critic from Central Texas. She enjoys gaming, writing mystery stories, streaming on Twitch, and horseback Rachel is a writer and former game critic from Central Texas. She enjoys gaming, writing mystery stories, streaming on Twitch, and horseback riding. Check her Twitter for curmudgeonly criticisms.

Steam has apparently responded to the recent review bombing controversy by implementing a new change in its review section. Now there will be an infograph in the review section which will show spikes in review activity, and whether the activity is positive or negative.

In a Steam Community blog post, Valve UI designer Alden Kroll described the thought process that led up to the new graph, mentioning review bombing by name:

In short, review bombs make it harder for the Review Score to achieve its goal of accurately representing the likelihood that you’d be happy with your purchase if you bought a game. We thought it would be good to fix that, if we could do it in a way that didn’t stop players from being able to voice their opinions.

Despite sounding esoteric, it’s easy to understand and use. When you click on sections of the graph, such as a particular spike, you’ll see the reviews from that time. If you spot a large amount of recent negative reviews, it’s easier to figure out what the cause might be.

The new measure is a happy medium between censoring user opinions and letting review bombers run rampant. I may not agree with review bombing as a reaction, but I’m not saying it should be banned. Some gamers might find it a legitimate use of the system to communicate with the game’s developers. On the other hand, it lets buyers who might otherwise be flooded with negative reviews find those from a less chaotic period and go from there.

It’s also a good way for potential players to keep abreast of common complaints about a game and its developers, be they mechanical or philosophical. Sure, it’ll require a little more scrutiny and legwork on the part of the purchaser, but hey, it’s your money — as far as I’m concerned, putting in the time to decide if a game and the people who made it are worth your scratch is your responsibility.

Even if I find review bombing a less-than-graceful way of visiting your displeasure at a game developer — just as I find a DMCA takedown to be an unnecessarily heavy way to go after a YouTuber — I do understand the impulse, and I’m glad Steam has found a way to manage its impact without banning it outright.