Steam Fights Back Against Review Bombing

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Valve has taken firm action to deterring review bombing on Steam. A new algorithm will flag potential review bombs and notify a team of real people for investigation. If that team determines a malicious review bombing campaign has taken place, all reviews in that time frame will have their scores removed from the game’s total user score. The reviews themselves will remain.

Review bombing is “where players post a large number of reviews in a short period of time, aimed at lowering the Review Score of a game,” to quote Valve’s post. Valve specifically calls out off-topic reviews as focusing on elements outside of the game itself, such as a game’s DRM, or comments a developer has made online.

In 2017 Valve was well aware of review bombing. They added a histogram to track reviews over time, making it obvious to see when review bombing occurs. Today’s new system comes after years of testing and discussion. Valve has pledged to not remove the reviews themselves. But their downvoted scores will not be counted toward the game’s overall review score. Review scores have become an increasingly important tool for consumers to quickly gauge whether or not a game is worth their time.

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Unfortunately any legitimate reviews that happen to be posted during a review bomb period will be affected, and their scores hidden as well. “[…] it isn’t feasible for us to read every single review. 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.”

Reviewing bombing is a well-known tactic for online trolls, and isn’t limited to video games. Most recently popular movie site Rotten Tomatoes removed the ability to post user reviews on unreleased movies, due to a reviewing bombing campaign with Captain Marvel.

If any of this is upsetting, Valve has a catch-all solution. You can simply turn this feature off entirely. There’s now a checkbox in your Steam Store options where you can re-enable all review scores. “Reviews are an important part of Steam,” states the post, “which is why we continue to do the work to make sure that they are not being manipulated by anyone.

toejam & earl

ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove Review

Posted by | PC, PlayStation 4, Reviews, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

Available On: PC (Win, Mac, Linux), PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

The honeymoon for nostalgia-fueled Kickstarter video game projects has long since passed. Older games and genres from the 80s and 90s inspired a treasure trove of multi-million dollar projects, to varying degrees of success. Despite the digital gold rush, I never expected one of these Kickstarter fruits to bear a new ToeJam & Earl game, let alone it be quite good.

ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is the fourth game in the bizarre but strangely memorable 90s series. But it’s also a triumphant recreation of the 1991 original, which has all the early trappings of a solid roguelike dungeon crawler, that happens to star a pair of funky aliens. While some gameplay elements are quite frustrating, Back in the Groove is dripping with 90s charm, lots of replayability, and fantastic co-op.

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GOG Welcomes the Lord of Terror with Diablo Rerelease

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Digital PC game store GOG added a seminal classic of PC gaming to its library: 1996’s Diablo. For the first time you can now purchase Diablo outside of Blizzard (or retail), for $9.99. It does not include the 1997 Hellfire expansion, which was released by a different company.

Like many of GOG’s rereleases, Diablo has been closely preserved to its original release, with 20 FPS SVGA graphics. Up to four players can journey beneath Tristram together through direct IP connection or the older version of Blizzard’s Battle.net multiplayer lobby. Note that playing online requires opening up ports and your firewall as Diablo predates modern online safeguards.

A few tweaks and updates have been included to support modern PCs, including Win 10 support and proper upscaling for higher resolutions.

While not the first dungeon crawling loot fest, Diablo is often considered the grandfather of the entire genre. Play a warrior, rogue, or sorcerer and explore randomly generated dungeons, fight monsters, and nab loot. Diablo was a huge success that begat an entire genre of co-op hack ‘n slash games that persists to this day.

Diablo was the most requested game on GOG. To this day it’s often voted as one of the best and most influential games of all time. Though its gameplay hasn’t aged quite as well, with clunky controls and muddy graphics. Diabl0 2, released in 2000, was a massive improvement in every way, and is even more highly regarded. Diablo 2 is currently available via Blizzard’s store.

Diablo represents the first of several classic Blizzard games that will make their way onto GOG. The partnership is due to the fact that these games’ older infrastructure prevent them from being sold and played via Blizzard’s modern Battle.net digital storefront. Blizzard’s solution is to remake them, such as with 2017’s StarCraft Remastered and WarCraft 3 Reforged, coming later this year. The original Warcraft 1 and 2 will be coming to GOG as well.

Diablo is rated M for Mature.