Last week Valve introduced a controversial change to its user review system. Some developers and users were “willing to employ deceptive tactics to generate a more positive review score.” To combat this, Valve changed the reviews so only users that purchased the game through Steam can affect a game’s review score.
The idea was to eliminate those that received Steam keys to give positive reviews. This also hides legitimate user reviews from those that purchased Steam keys from other sources (such as Kickstarter or Humble).
This week Valve added some more changes, adding review filters to each store page.
“We want to make sure that helpful reviews can be surfaced regardless of purchase source,” Valve wrote in a news post. “The review section on each product page will show reviews written by all users, regardless of purchase type.”
The filter defaults to showing all user reviews. From there you can filter between positive and negative, as well as Steam purchases and key activations.
Steam is sticking to their guns on their review score change, however. “This change doesn’t impact the review score. Each game’s score will continue to be calculated based only on customers that purchased the game via Steam.”
A few other minor updates include changing the color of the “Mixed” rating and sorting user’s reviews chronologically instead of by popularity.
The Steam Customer Review System (like Steam itself) is still a bloated mess in vast need of a major overhaul. Often the most popularly voted reviews are dumb jokes, memes, or protest votes. Like the internet at large, the user review system is a series of megaphones each trying to one-up the one before them.
To Valve’s credit, they do mention a future update coming to user reviews to address this problem. “The goal is to be able to identify and highlight helpful reviews while hiding or lowering the prominence of unhelpful reviews. We’re working on updating the system to consider more factors when deciding how to rank ‘helpful’ reviews so that it can generate better results. We plan on rolling out a beta soon.”