User reviews are one of the biggest consumer-facing features Steam has at the moment, but sadly, they can be abused by disingenuous parties. This has been the source of much criticism from both the gaming press and the larger community of game developers worldwide. Thankfully, in a blog post that has just been published, Tom Bui of Valve, has shared the company’s ideas on how to rework the user reviews system in order to account for “off-topic review bombs” (which are described as a great number of players leaving reviews that concern matters that wouldn’t affect a regular user over a short period of time).
As things stand now, when a review bomb happens, users can see it thanks to a nifty graph that shows up once Steam detects increased review activity over a short period of time. This is useful for people who are just browsing the store checking out games they might want to purchase, but those reviews still affect the overall score of the title affected by the review bombing, so developers can actually lose sales thanks to things that are out of their control and don’t really affect their game’s quality.
With Valve‘s proposed changes to the system, off-topic review bombs won’t be displayed unless the user chooses to see them, and by default, the Steam Review Score of a game won’t be affected by the bombing. This news will certainly be well received by the community of game developers, although there is one caveat with the specific method Valve will use to remove off-topic review bombs, which is that any review posted during a review bomb period will not be counted for the overall Steam Review Score of the affected game.
This unfortunate side-effect of the new system designed to combat off-topic review bombing comes from the fact that a team of Valve employees will have to go through reviews personally in order to decide whether a review bomb event is off-topic, or if it is something related to a real problem that would affect normal customers interested in the affected game. Of course, while that team can read enough reviews to identify off-topic activity, they wouldn’t be able to read all the reviews posted during the review bombing period, and thus, they can’t separate the wheat from the chaff at the moment.
Source: Steam Blog