Old Arkham Knight Steam Reviews Are Now Flagged As ‘Pre-Release’

Old Arkham Knight Steam Reviews Are Now Flagged As ‘Pre-Release’

Four months and several patches later, Batman: Arkham Knight on PC has resurfaced on Steam. Before Warner Bros. pulled it down, however, Steam users had pummelled the game with thousands of negative reviews. Now, those reviews have been flagged as “pre-release.”

As of this writing, Arkham Knight as 17,616 reviews painting the game as “mixed.” The first one is what Warner Bros. is probably hoping for more of:

Old Arkham Knight Steam Reviews Are Now Flagged As 'Pre-Release'

This one wasn’t nearly as impressed:

Old Arkham Knight Steam Reviews Are Now Flagged As 'Pre-Release'

And here’s another review from a few weeks ago:

Old Arkham Knight Steam Reviews Are Now Flagged As 'Pre-Release'

It’s not clear if this happened because of how Steam works or if Warner Bros. pulled the trigger, but the publisher finds themselves in an interesting spot.

By most accounts, Arkham Knight is a vastly better game with the patches, meaning it’s a different game from the one that shipped in June. It was not a game that entered Steam’s early access program — it was removed because the port was terrible.

If Warner Bros. (or Steam) deleted the reviews, that would be bad.

If Warner Bros. (or Steam) had kept the reviews as they were, anyone who visited the page would suspect the game would run like crap on their PC.

A more accurate label for those reviews might have been “pre-patch,” but the Twitter exchange I had with a reader who pointed this my way got me thinking.

Old Arkham Knight Steam Reviews Are Now Flagged As 'Pre-Release'

It’s a good point, though I’d argue Arkham Knight is an extraordinary circumstance. We haven’t seen a game pulled from Steam due to complaints, only to resurface months later. We’re wading through uncharted territory here.


  • No it should’nt have labelled them pre-release. That’s disingenous and a lie. The game was officially released at that point, then re-released. What they SHOULD have done was created an ‘Arkham Knight Re-Release’ product or whatnot, to differentiate it from the other, but still tie it in to the file on the servers. Then it would be able to have its own reviews. Doing this, is tantamount to sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming ‘LALALALALALA THIS DIDN’T HAPPEN!’

    WB haven’t put a bloody foot right in this whole debacle (amazing, since Mad Max was stable and pretty damn good too…) they need to back off and stop pulling this shit.

      • Yep absolutely. I’ll buy Avalanche games again that’s for sure, but hopefully they don’t get published by those assholes…

    • People would give them even more hate than this for re-listing it as a new product; it would be labelled as deceptive also.

      • I’m of the opinion that anyone who argued that is the sour type who wants the re-release of Arkham Knight to be forever tarred with a negative review score that doesn’t actually reflect the state of the game for people who are wondering if they should buy it.

        People like that are pointless to consider, they’re never going to be happy anyway, so you should just do what makes sense. Like a re-release, or label pre-re-release reviews as ‘pre-release’.

        • Except those reviews weren’t written ‘pre-release’. The game released months ago. Arkham Knight was never in Alpha, it was never in beta, it was never, ever, pre-release. It was ‘re-released’. Don’t try to rewrite history.

          • It was also taken down from sale, about as close as you can get to a recall. The game that was, then? Not the one that the reviews apply to.

            It’s one thing to re-write history, it’s another to keep using science textbooks that are no longer correct.

            Those reviews? They’re not accurate anymore.

            (Edit: Not necessarily accurate anymore… seen quite a few posts on this article indicating that the latest release is still a buggy-ass pile of shit.)

          • If reviews come out *now* they’re dated as being about the game in its current state. That’s fine. It should be judged as that. Reviews should not be labelled ‘pre-release’ as the game was *never* in a pre-release state. Why on earth are you trying to argue that???

            I mean, by the logic you’ve got there, people should go back on websites, gamesites, facebook pages, magazines and republish reviews as every patch comes out? They should’nt have to. These are big budgeted games that *should not* have to rely on a patch to rescue them from being a clusterfuck.

          • Why on earth am I trying to argue that? Possibly because I’m not arguing semantics.
            I’m arguing that some sort of tag is appropriate because it’s essentially a different release. This isn’t ‘just a patch’, they recalled the entire fucking product. They stopped selling it. They told people to get refunds while they worked on it.

            It was unavailable for sale for months, then re-released. Not just patched, RE-RELEASED.
            That’s not ‘just a patch’. You go to that extreme, then you probably do need a do-over once the new product is out. If you’re so big on semantics, then you should probably heed some sort of difference between patch vs re-release.

            Tagging the reviews as ‘Pre-release’ on semantics alone (which is what you’re insisting on doing) as opposed to ‘pre-re-release’ might not be ideal, but as a limitation of Steam, it’s still reasonable to work with what you’ve got… as opposed to saying that it’s actually fine to have tens of thousands of inaccurate reviews saying, “Fucking game doesn’t work, piece of shit.”

            That’s really, really not OK. It defeats the purpose of having the reviews in the first place – to tell buyers what they’re going to get. That doesn’t help anyone except the spiteful to see that this game has nearly twenty fucking thousand negative reviews.

            It’s big enough that it becomes not about ‘policy’ but about what’s a reasonable reflection on what the reviews are for.

            If the mechanics to get around it aren’t ideal, it doesn’t matter, it’s still better than not having anything to differentiate a post-re-release review from a pre-re-release review.

            WB may not have made use of Steam’s Early Access program so that early adopters would at least know what they were getting into, but frankly, the end result is functionally the same.
            It wasn’t ready for launch, now it is.

            And you know what? Responsible review sites do actually re-review games that have undertaken significant changes over time, especially with regard to MMOs or in several cases, Destiny – which didn’t even stop sales at any point.

          • If the game made a significant change to itself, that would be one thing. If it actually evolved over time that would be one thing. They just made it *work* theoretically.

            The game *never* had a pre-release phase and never should be marketed that way or labelled, that’s not semantics, that’s *fact*. If they want to re-release it as a ‘new improved product’ they should have put it up as a new improved product. The only thing going on here, is manipulation of the reviews to garner a better rating for the product, skewing the stats. Sorry you can’t see that but jesus, it’s *not* a hard concept to comprehend.

          • The only thing going on here, is manipulation of the reviews to garner a better rating for the product, skewing the stats. Sorry you can’t see that but jesus, it’s *not* a hard concept to comprehend.
            Yeah, except that’s not what’s happening. Go look at the Steam store page. It’s still 20k reviews with ‘mostly negative’.

          • You mean the one that says 18,134 reviews, ‘Mixed’? “46% of these reviews are positive”.

          • Yeah, that’s the one.

            Interesting… I was rounding the 18k up to 20, but the mixed was new. When I looked at it it was mostly negative. I wonder what the cut-off is for that. 45%, perhaps? Because it’s currently sitting at 46% positive.

            Either way, the point still stands. They didn’t just get 18,000 reviews with only 46% positive yesterday. That’s the old data, that they aren’t escaping from.

            What they ARE doing (and which is incredibly useful to people who read reviews) is allowing for a tag to signify which written reviews are going to be referring to before their re-release, and which ones are written after their re-release.

            Their incredibly dramatic ‘pulled from the store, unconditional refunds offered, worked on for months’ re-release which in itself is worth SOME kind of tag to differentiate between the reviews if only for the reader’s benefit, not the company’s.

            Edit: And I think I need to reinforce that this is the most important point there is. It does NOT help the customer to know that the pre-re-release version was shitty and full of bugs and that you shouldn’t buy it because it’s unplayable, if that no longer actually applies. You know I’m a particularly strident (to a failing) advocate for consumer interests and rights and what is important here is that the consumer is given the best knowledge to hand to make an informed decision. Fuck the publisher and their feelings or profits. And to my mind, tagging pre-re-release reviews as exactly that, is what’s in the best interests of the customer who wants to make an informed purchasing decision NOW. Not months ago, but now. And I think that the act of pulling the game from the store for as long as they did and offering unconditional refunds – no matter how long you’d played – was a large enough of a move to count as being worthy of a re-release. I would argue strongly against a second listing of the title because it is an utterly unnecessary mess yielding no gain whatsoever, AND it would give them that ‘blank slate’ on their currently negative review score that you’re concerned about.

          • Actually, I just looked at the Steam store page for the game… those negative reviews are still there and still contributing to the overall ‘mostly negative’ score.

            They haven’t ‘escaped justice’ in the slightest.

            If anything, the way things stand now is the best outcome there could be, indicating that the WORDS of the reviews, which would be specifically mentioning bugs etc, are not necessarily current, following the dramatic measure of a re-release.

  • I think this is something Steam should be doing across the board with reviews – the version of the game should be included in the review, the same way sites like Wowhead include the WoW patch version in user comments so you can see whether a comment might have outdated information or not.

    I can understand that people feel like this is whitewashing reviews, but as long as they remain public and accessible, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to mark them as applying to an older version. The Arkham Knight situation really isn’t comparable to CDPR releasing a patch for Witcher 3.

    • The biggest issue here, is they’re labelling it ‘pre-release’, which gives the false pretense that these were written prior to the game even making it to market. This isn’t right. The game came out, it was awful beyond awful on the PC and got deservedly trashed. I do agree it should have maybe ‘Initial release’ and then ‘Revised release’ on them, but pre-release like I said, is nothing short of dishonest and being used to make the people who purchased the games look like they’re at fault, not WB.

      • Pre-release isn’t the right label, I agree, but I suspect that’s more a current limitation of Steam. If they introduce patch versions into reviews it would solve the problem entirely – old reviews would get marked as such (what WB wants) and they’d be marked with an appropriate label instead of pre-release (what I assume everyone else wants).

        I don’t think the two are comparable though. Arkham Knight was pulled altogether and re-released months later. You could hardly say Witcher 3 is re-released every time they put a patch out. They’re different scales of change.

        Personally I prefer it done this way, where the old reviews are still attached to the game and you can read them when you go to buy it (albeit marked as applying to an older version) than what you hinted at above of them releasing it as a different parallel title where the reviews for the older version don’t carry across at all. For me, all they need to do is fix the label from “Pre-release review” to “Launch review” or “Patch 1.0 review” or something along those lines. Labelled, but not removed.

      • In fact, now that I look closer, I don’t think this was deliberate. If you look at Arkham Knight’s store page now you’ll see the release date is 28 October 2015. I’d put money on the fact that Steam automatically flags any review dated prior to the game’s release date as a pre-release review.

      • I’m guessing that isn’t possible on Steam at the moment? The only marker I’ve seen for reviews is pre-release, so maybe WB is just doing their best with what they have.

        That being said, it’s an interesting case. I think there’s a case to be made for prioritizing reviews of the current patch over older ones. Another good example is Orion: Prelude. When it released, it was a broken piece of shit. The devs realized this, and have patched it into a pretty great game. Should the original reviews of the broken POS version stop them from selling what is now a legitimately good game?

        • However check the forums, there’s still large amounts of people saying the current version doesn’t work either. Looks like they’ve got a horribly lame horse on their hands.

          • Eugh that’s pretty shit. But still, if it’s still a broken piece of shit, then they are going to get a metric shit-ton of negative reviews (again).

            I like the idea of a review system based on the version of the game, so that devs aren’t continuously punished for rectified mistakes.

          • Oh absolutely and so do I.

            I think it’d pull a LOT of early access games in line too. I imagine DayZ would move its ass along. I love that game, a lot. But since Rocket left it, I really feel like giving it a negative review because Bohemia feels like they want to ditch that game.

            Ark? I’d love to give repeated reviews almost each patch with how much each patch has *improved* the game exponentially.

            Rating by patch would be ideal.

          • I mentioned this below, that I think including a version number on a review is a damn fine idea, but I’d also prefer to keep the far more highly-visible pre-release (or variants thereof) tag in place as well.

            The concern with the patch-number tag is that while it’s useful information, there’s more likely a bigger difference between pre and post-release, but not necessarily a big difference between version 3.01 and 3.05. Not always enough that it would cause you to re-evaluate a review, whereas pre-release probably should.

            The more insidious thing that happens when judging by patch, is what happens on the itunes store with games. The default setting is to only view ‘current version’, and I’ve seen quite a few games bury their more scathing negative reviews by releasing a minor patch to get a clean slate on the default view, to lure in the less savvy who don’t know to click on the ‘all versions’.

          • I think a good solution to version scumming is to show both ratings on the right side, on top of each other. “Latest version” and “Overall” with the number of reviews in brackets. Making sure the ‘overall’ rating is always visible would go a long way to neutralising any benefit from just fudging reviews with a meaningless update.

    • The Arkham Knight situation really isn’t comparable to CDPR releasing a patch for Witcher 3.

      Why not? The only difference really is release quality. Witcher 3 release was pretty solid and they continue to improve it via patches. Arkham knight was in a terrible state at release and they are improving it via patches. You can’t say they didnt have an idea about the state the game was in when they released it they just didnt feel it would affect their bottom line much (wrong i guess) so they pulled it entirely.

      I’m pretty strongly against anything that belittles the release quality of a game. On face value it’s admirable that companies release patches to address issues but realistically the majority only do so as they think it might affect their bottom line later down the line. As always there are exceptions and CDPR appears they genuinely want to improve their product through iteration and feedback – i don’t get that vibe with arkham knight at all.

      At the end of the day arkham knight should never have been released in the state it was.

      • I expanded on that in a reply above.

        Arkham Knight was pulled altogether and re-released months later. You could hardly say Witcher 3 is re-released every time they put a patch out. They’re different scales of change.

        I agree that Arkham Knight shouldn’t have been released in the state it was in.

    • Yeah Witcher 3 is a bad example. Final Fantasy XIV vs Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is more fitting.

    • Funnily enough, this is something Steam could learn from Google’s app store. “This review is for an older edition” is happily prominent on a lot of their games.

    • That’s what I thought but those first two examples are from the same day. Unless there was a few hours difference and the game was enabled for sale during that window.

      • Or someone only got around to reviewing the title the day before/same day it was re-released because they heard it was coming.

  • Would “Pre-release” be the right word, though?

    Maybe, “That time we prematurely ejactulated Arhkam Knight all over our fans after taking their money” would be better?

  • I have mixed feelings towards this. I don’t like the idea of them distancing themselves from this incident, but at the same time the purpose of the review is to tell potential buyers what’s in the box and what’s in the box has changed dramatically since these reviews were made.

    The more I think about it the more I feel like the real problem here is that the game is on Steam at all. It should have been banned. This wasn’t some honest mistake. They didn’t accidentally upload an old build or let a few minor bugs slip past. It was a calculated decision to sell a faulty product in order to make the most of their advertising budget. The only reason they pulled the game is because Steam put in place a system that would force them to issue refunds. They get to dodge the rules and shit on Steam’s userbase just because they’re a big publisher. They might lose a few dollars but I feel like Steam would actually benefit from them taking their business elsewhere.

    • Now I’m normally a fairly cynical guy myself, but do we really believe it was a “calculated decision to sell a faulty product”? I just don’t see what they would have to gain by that?

      • They spent a lot of money on advertising. If the PC version misses that window it sells less copies. That’s obviously just a guess but the game launched in a state where they had to have been aware of it. The studio doing the port had been stuck months behind the console version for a long time. Unless they tripped over and accidentally landed on the launch button they knew exactly what they were doing. This sort of unacceptable PC port launch is pretty common. The only difference is that this shoddy PC port launch coincided with Valve’s decision to add a refund system to Steam.

        • I’d say that is exactly why shitty products get pushed out the door the day that marketing signed them to 9-12 months ago.

          Windows have to be hit for a variety of reasons, not the least of which includes maximum advertising exposure (which very often is either entirely non-negotiable or carries a penalty), distribution logistics, calculated competition against other titles, and making sure that peak ‘game buying’ periods are hit. There is a LOT of money spent on this shit.

          The $500M Destiny deal that gets quoted a lot is notable for the fact that it’s mostly marketing. BIG money gets spent on this and a lot of that money is utterly burned if a release date shifts.

          Unless they tripped over and accidentally landed on the launch button they knew exactly what they were doing.
          Heh. I’m reminded of that quote from The Last Boy Scout.

  • It’s not the best system, it’s disingenuous to say that it’s a pre-release review but the product has changed.

    I hope now after all of this that PC gamers get to enjoy what is a magnificent game.

  • Dear Warner Bros.,

    Besides yourself, you’re fooling no one trying (and failing) to flag reviews on a final, released product as pre-release.

    A Gamer Outside Your Ivory Tower.

  • Apparently the new patch didn’t fix anything besides allowing you to give them money for DLC, so the old reviews are pretty much have had the equivalent of WB with their fingers in their ears yelling “LALALA I’M NOT LISTENING”. That on top of the mediocre compensation (as if the series’ fans don’t already own the previous games, minus the port from 3DS) is just more for WB to pat themselves on the back for a ‘job well done’ rather than apologising to consumers who didn’t or couldn’t (i.e. didn’t buy from Steam or GMG) refund the game

  • SHouldn’t say pre-release but it should says “Version: 1.0, Current Version: 2.0” or something like that so you can see what version they reviewed compared to what is out now.

    • This is a pretty decent idea, but one of the concerns I have with that is similar to what happens on the iTunes app store.

      The default review page is for ‘latest version’, rather than the ‘all versions’ which you have to click on – a game getting panned with negative reviews can actually get a new lease on life by simply releasing a minor patch.

      As it stands, the ‘pre-release’ tag is highly visible and signifies a really clear and dramatic difference between the previous version and the current one. It seems like you can’t really get that tag without pulling the product off the store and putting it back on later, which is a really dramatic move that you would fully expect Steam to be calling shenanigans on if it happened too many times for one specific product. These were obviously special circumstances – a major publisher released an outright broke game that the Steam support system was actually allowing unconditional refunds on, with the encouragement of the publisher to do exactly that.
      Exceptional circumstances.

      If that tag instead becomes a mere version number, then it could be updated hundreds of times across the life of the product, without any particular indicator as to whether 2.1 had anything special about it that might make a review of 2.2 markedly different.

      • It’s a difficult balance to strike to keep it effective, but I’d like to see it introduced nonetheless.

  • They should have pulled Sim City as that was totally shitcanned for “not being what they promised” when it was released as well.

    (I ended up getting City Skylines instead 😉 )

  • I’ve got 1 hour of gametime on it at the moment, with 8 crashes.

    Yeah, it’s working REALLY well.

    i5 3.8ghz
    20 GB ram
    AMD r9 390 (this might be the problem) with 15.10 beta drivers

  • Sad thing is if they had released it as GOTY edition with all the DLC it would have been a new listing and had zero reviews. Perhaps they should have just eaten the cost of DLC and gone that way.

  • If you’ve already reviewed the “pre-release” version….can you review this “release” version?

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