There's A Fight Going On In DOOM's Steam Reviews

It's been almost 12 years since we've had a new DOOM game, but today one has finally arrived. And as you'd expect, the first user reviews are flooding in.

There's just one problem: they've barely played the game.

Compared to the reception for the DOOM open beta, which was Bethesda's second most unpopular item on Valve's digital marketplace until the store page was pulled, the DOOM launch is going really well.

At least for the first hour or two: because out of the few hundred reviews on Steam right now, that's how long most of the users have played.

The game's currently got a 91% Very Positive rating, but all it really does — and this happened with the open beta as well — is highlight the capacity for games to be subject to review bombing. There's no restrictions on how long you can play a game before submitting a review, after all, and developers can't set time limits or checkpoints dictating how much a user has to play before they can submit a review.

So how do you combat the inevitable brigade of downvotes on Steam? By downvoting negative reviews, of course.

From browsing through pages and pages of reviews, I haven't found a single Steam review that says they've finished the campaign or even had enough hours to finish the singleplayer content. And there's the multiplayer modes and SnapMap to boot.

But that's not important — what's important is going on Steam and downvoting the reviews you don't agree with. Even if most people haven't progressed beyond the first few levels.


    Steam client is pretty bad at keeping the played time in sync on the servers, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was underreporting the time played for some of the reviews.

    Anyway, I don't think it's fair to complain that people are posting reviews so early when the games can only be returned if they've been played for less than 2 hours (putting aside exceptions). Game devs can't have it both ways.

    Last edited 13/05/16 4:18 pm

      If someone plays the game for 90 minutes and says "this isn't for me, I want a refund", that's slightly different to claiming to have had a complete experience and giving the game a poor/good rating.

      I feel like you really shouldn't rate a game unless you've completed it or in the case of multiplayer titles played an equivalent amount of time on it to a full length solo campaign - say 6-10 hours at least. Unless the game was so abysmal that playing it for that long is torturous.

        If we're talking about professional game reviews, then I agree with you totally. But I think if the user has bought a game on Steam they're entitled to make their opinion known as soon as they've formed one.

          Hence why a review with 0.6 hours played next to it carries very little weight with me. For better or for worse.

            There's one review posted with 0.2 hours played. They reviewed the game based on 12 minutes of play. It makes the bad old days of publisher-sponsored reviews look halcyon.

            Giving a game that lasts many hours a review on the basis of its first twelve minutes is just... grandstanding? Stupid? It's certainly not doing anyone any favours.

            Does anyone remember that game that was released on Steam for a while which ended abruptly with a text screen saying, basically, "our money ran out so we're not bothering to finish this"? I can we can trust Bethesda/id not to do that, but it's far from uncommon for a major publisher to released a game which starts well and goes rapidly downhill. Or, on rare occasions, vice-versa.

        I don't think that's true. If the first few hours are dull then that's a perfectly reasonable review.

        Why should you have to slog through 20+ hours of tedium, especially in this age of massively padded games, just so that you can express the opinion that it's not really worth the effort?

          Unless the game was so abysmal that playing it for that long is torturous.

          then that person isn't entitled to share their opinion because it is largely uninformed. everyone wants to cry, bitch, and moan about having their voice heard without taking the responsibility to make sure what they have to say is credible.

            So an opinion of, "The game wasn't good enough to keep me playing." is no longer allowed?

            How interesting... Please do teach us more on how to police people's thoughts and opinions simply because we don't like them.

            Last edited 13/05/16 9:17 pm

            Sorry that isn't true. If it isnt engaging at the start, that is a failing and I'd want people to share their views on it.

        Well the thing is, you cant get a refund past 119 minutes

          Yes you can. I've gotten 2 refunds with over 2 hours played - One with 2.8 hours (Culling) and the other with 2.4 hours (Zombie Army Trilogy).

          I've even heard about people getting refunds with up to 4 hours play time.

        On the other hand, if it's bad enough to make one seek a refund within two hours...

        Not sure I agree with that. Take for example the gameplay loop philosophy (mostly noted by bungie). Where the fundamental core game experience is roughly a 60 second unit (you run and shoot things).
        The key to this brand of philosophy is where and how you loop these units together, with subtle variations (shoot different enemies with different guns, etc).
        The gameplay loop forms the essence of the "game" aspect of a game (and does not really include other aspects like art or story) and is fairly uniform throughout a game (gameplay at beginning of game is going to be fairly constant throughout a game).
        So essentially while a gamer may not experience the full story of a game within 2 hours, they will certainly be able to construct an accurate opinion of the fundamental game mechanics within an hour or so (particularly with shooters as the mechanics used are often straightforward).
        And how much do you love a game if you hate the basic game mechanics?

          Unless the game was so abysmal that playing it for that long is torturous

        Well alot of games can be fairly judged in two hours seeing as alot of them consist of doing the first 2-4 hours for the entire game. This is especially true with shooters.
        Point in case the division.

      I have to agree with the first paragraph. For whatever reason, i have a horrid time matching the two. I've spent many hundreds of hours on The Forest, for example, and mine registers at under 100. I finished bioshock infinite and it synced at half of the time.

        Woo the forest! !!!
        I pause and walk off from my pc a lot so apparently I've played the forest for almost 300 hours and with syncing I finished black ops in half an hour.

    I've only read the first paragraph but I wanted to let people know my opinion in the comments even though it has no relation to what the article was about.

      Now you are become internet. Go forth and conquer.

      Started your post with the ninth letter of the alphabet, obvious shitposting. Git gud scrub.

    Steam reviews are right up there with YouTube comments for infantile retardedness.

    Ever walked out of a movie before? Or stopped reading a book? Turned off a song before it finished?
    How on earth is it different when vidya games are involved.

    If they were being paid to review the product, sure they should give it a chance, the game might get better after the first 1/2 or so.
    The mob has pretty good judgment on whether something is good or not. It's the extremes that I discount as outliers (see what I did there), just ignore the 10/10's and the 0/10's and take the rest to be the consensus.

      Context is king. A book should be able to grab you in the first few sentences. A movie in the opening 5-15 minutes. Likewise a game should do the same.

      What defines the quality of a title is the next 'X amount of hours' making concessions for the delivery medium. We're limited by how fast we can read, how fast an author or director wants things to occur, how fast we play through etc.

      It's why I say Lord of the Rings is a series that requires a lot of investment. It does get you in those first few sentences (though it requires a lot of patience) but ultimately it's very rewarding. It's why I love Deadpool (no further explanation required). It's why I've almost always loved a TES game.

      I don't think the reviewers are the problem. I think the (Steam) review system is the problem. There is no balance in reviews at all. A game reviewer who does it for a living knows they have to get through the game as quickly as possible to give as balanced (and unbiased) a review as possible. Someone who has bought the game has no such limitation. They'll either love it or hate it and after 1-2 hours of playing they're going to let you know how they feel.

      Back before reviews, word of mouth was how you knew what was good and what was not. The difference was way back then you had 1-2 hours of play time before your parents turned off the PC/console and kicked you out of the house. That's all you got and it was all you (and your friends) had to go on. In a shopping centre you had even less time before the auto reset kicked in and kicked you out.

      Whining about a player submitting a review after 1-2 hours of play time? Oh you poor privileged souls.

    Two hours is plenty to get a good sense of how a game works. The idea that you need to finish the game to give it a proper review is like listening to my grandpa tell me how he walked 10 miles to school uphill both ways. It's coming from a bunch of old-school game journalists who are trying really hard to stay relevant in changing times.

    Reviewing a game doesn't require an understanding of the plot or story progression, because literally nobody actually reviews plot or story progression in game reviews. Go find me a Kotaku, IGN, or RPS review where they said "well the gameplay was super fun but I just could not wrap my head around how the princess could get captured by Bowser yet again!" It doesn't happen.

    Single player reviews cover basics that are mostly fleshed out in the first 30 minutes of gameplay. Some of them need some more time, but you can still make a pretty fair assessment in less than an hour.

    1. How are the graphics? Good? Not good? < 10 minutes
    2. How are the controls? Good? Not good? < 5 minutes
    3. Are the characters cool? < 1-2hrs
    4. Is the gameplay repetitive? < repetition usually comes out in the first few hrs if there is any
    5. Is it fun? < 30 minutes because if it's not fun in the first 30 minutes it's not going to be.

    That's why Steam puts a 2hr limit on refunds, because they actually give you time to make an assessment. People don't refund because "the game is not 'for me'", they refund because they don't like the game-- which means they don't recommend it. So strongly, in fact, that they demanded their money back. That's a perfectly reasonable data point for others to go off of.

    All reviews I've written have been seeded by my experience from my first few hours of gameplay-- the end just serves to add detail, but mostly just ends up confirming what I originally experienced.

    tl;dr you can get enough out of a game in the first 1-2 hrs to be able to provide a relatively reliable review.

      Couldnt disagree more with your statement that reviews dont focus on story. Infact I think the quality of narrative is one of the primary things reviewers look at and score on and it annoys me no-end because to my mind gameplay is massively more important.

        Two things I see that probably is the result of the shift away from gameplay as part of a review. There just hasn't been all that much innovation in gameplay, and depending on the genre of game there just isn't much differentiation between titles.

        Fighters: block, attack, repeat
        Shooters: shoot, hide, repeat
        Sports: defence, offence, repeat
        Platformers: jump, run, jump, run, jump, run...

        I know the above is an overly simplistic view of gameplay but looking up a few lists of innovative games by year only really shows that not much is changing. I think a lot of that has to do with fickle audiences and the financial risks to develop games in the current economic environment are too great to risk straying too far from the successful formula path.

    'Steam reviews are one extreme or the other' shocker

      It's the same with metacritic. I wish metacritic would either have positive, neutral and negative or something similarly simple because most of the reviews are either 9 or 10: best game eva, or 1 or 2: total broken garbage, there's little to no middle ground.

    The syncing is accurate if you're always online. If you play games in offline mode, the hours played will be less. I've played Arkham Knight >40 hours mostly offline,but steam just reports 10 hours which is most likely when the client was online.

    People actually pay attention to steam reviews? Shit, I don't pay attention to any reviews these days, they're either biased, paid reviews, or just idiots posting their rage/love of whatever game. Best way to see it before you play is to go looking for gameplay vids and deciding for yourself.

    I think a big problem with the game will be people's expectations. Doom is one of the all time classics, and has a lot to live up to. Personally, I'm looking forward to it, i love a good gory game, an know this will at least deliver that. MP Beta was fun, so will give that good run, but can't see it having a lasting appeal to me

      I definitely read them. They're very often incredibly useful. Albeit not always in the way the reviewer probably intended.

      Think of it like this... It's incredibly useful and enlightening to listen to someone's views on how vaccinations cause autism. Not because you give their crockpot theories any credence, but because it means you're not going to hire them or accept medical advice from them, or let their children into daycare or school where they'll expose other kids to risk.

      You can tell a lot about a game's review score based on what the overall tone of them. You don't just take a highly-rated one at face value... you rely on the aggregate.
      If there's a common theme behind ALL the reviews, like 'buggy as fuck', or 'game only lasts one hour, wtf is with a $50 price tag' etc, then you can be pretty confident about accepting the general bullet-point: unpolished/buggy/short, etc.

      If the complaints are about how it's not as good on Steam now that it's out of the beta that it's been in for the last six years, and a jaded vet takes 3000 words to shit on balance concerns and endgame, or about how the franchise has gone to shit now that a different developer has taken over the series and their last titles were bullshit so this one must be too, or this game is the worst because the dev made the kickstarter-backer-exclusive advantages available as purhcasable DLC, then that tells you an entirely different story.

    Im on the what i think is the last level, started playing at 10am and now 740pm and implaying on normal difficulty, only had 2 crashes so far. the game is bloody great. its fast, the melee kills dont slow down the action and they are quite good for conserving ammo. weapons are powerful but also sound powerful as well

      Agreed, just finished the third level and the game is just getting better, I am shocked that it runs and plays so well on xbone, so happy that the single player is awesome, no luck connect to deathmatch yet.

      On level 3 I think. No crashes no issues. Not the game I was expecting after doom3 but still a good game. Graphics run awesome on my gtx780 I was expecting some difficulty but none.

    Alex Walker's riding the Rob Fahey bandwagon in favor of a curating the reviews. Think about that for a minute. Curating the reviews. Meaning that if you pay for a product and give a thumbs up or a thumbs down, a grown-ass adult wants to tell you that you're wrong.

    A better system would be ideal, but you can't control how people think. So this movement is about controlling freedom of expression.

    And I get it. A game like Cibele doesn't appeal to the average steam user. I'm sure the lady who coded it is a wonderful person, but we don't live in a world where a game like hers has a massive audience drooling and snarling to get their filthy mitts on it.

    We live in a world where the most popular games are competitive, and where the users are snarky and mean. That's the world we live in. It isn't pretty, but it's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of corruption and problems that need solving.

    Maybe the answer is a kinder and gentler distribution service. A place where we can lump all the games journalists, and casual people who just don't click with the rough and tumble gamer culture into one place so they can all police each other. We can call it Dream.

    The irony is that this safe haven for all who feel discriminated against is also ideal for people like Alex Walker who think a paying customer has no right to express his or her opinion.

      Paying customers do have a right to express their opinion, and on the same note people have a right to dismiss those opinions based on time spent with a product. I wouldn't take a review based on the first 10 minutes of a movie or the first episode of an anime seriously either. Just because you have the right to your opinion doesn't mean that other people don't have the right to say that you aren't informed enough for your opinion to matter to them

        Good catch. By stating explicitly that paying customers have the right to express themselves how they choose about something they've bought, it's easy to get the idea that I want people's opinions to go uncontested.

        But there isn't a "war" like the article states. Nothing could be further from the truth. As far as I'm concerned I'm against any kind of moderation or curation of steam reviews by a third party because a third party can't possibly be objective.

        I'm defending the right of steam users to express themselves without interference or moderation. And that includes the right to downvote a review if you don't find it helpful.

        TL;DR there's nothing wrong with steam reviews. The only people who want to change the system are people who want to control what can and can't be said. Those people are publishers, developers and gaming journalists.

    Well I have smashed through the first level on Xbox one and its very good, way above my expectations, total blast, runs buttery smooth. Has a lot of RPG and exploration elements, I'm very happy with it.

    That negative review about it playing more like DooM 3 is just silly. The whole point of DooM 2016 is to play like a modern version of the first two games, which it does excellently in my opinion. It sounds like they just wanted a HD remaster of the 90's doom games, which is not what DooM 2016 ever pretended to be.

      Yeah for me it has nothing to do with doom3 it's a doom remake a fast paced action shooter.

    Smacks head. Enough with the stories about Steam Reviews. It doesnt matter what they say, they dont mean a single thing. They are never helpful, they rarely indicative of the real product, the only thing they serve to do is act as an outlet for trolls and people who way too much time on their hand who think they are funny and clever (hint: they rarely are). Really wish gaming sites stops adding stories about people being outraged on reddit or give steam reviews or mass downvoters on youtube. none of these things are newsworthy OR noteworthy.

      Seconded. Writing about comments on another website isn't journalism.

    To be fair, they're probably downvoting Rand Paul 2016 because everyone knows Rand Paul is a camp-whore/Spam-whore. All Republican are campers-- Lindsay Graham is the worst.

    It's better than reviewing a game without really playing it like you guys do.

    Well, sucks to be them. Ive just finished the fourth mission and its fkn sweet, but it did take me a while to A: acclimatize to its controls for gun mods etc and B: find the combat rhythm. 1st lvl i was "meh, its ok", 2nd i got the hang of it. 3rd onwards- "Groovy!" And since i must find every hidden area that put it well over 2 hours in. Folks just seem so knee jerk in their reactions instead of taking time to absorb something. God help em if they tried to read a book without pictures or larger than a fucking pamphlet! Just another case of whiney lil muppets needing instant gratification.

      even after completing the game i still keep hitting R to reload my shotgun and and pistol XD. and yeah i finished the game in 10 hrs on Normal Difficulty missed quiet a few secret too but that was not on purpose and i only unlocked 2 of the classic maps so far

    Not gonna lie if a game has received a "Mixed" review or lower, I then rein back on my hype, open up my internet browser and check out why the game has received such bad perception. Not gonna lie this method has saved me from quite a few dud purchases.
    Hell I do the same method of info digging on the games I'm only "kind off" interested in. This has lead me to purchase games I never would have otherwise.
    The system isn't perfect by far, but it has certainly led me to become a more informed consumer, who is on the whole happier with his steam sales sprees ;-D.

    Also it gives the community a voice. Not a perfect voice but a horrible amalgamated chorus of competing screeches, howls and intellectually stimulating debates (the voice we may not need but the voice we deserve).
    Developers actually listen to and fear this voice, and this has led to as many good things as bad things.
    Is it bad for companies to be mindful of their consumers opinions?

    so many toxic communities on the net

    steam is right up there with them

    The aurthor of this article is being absurd. You are saying "you shall not have a platform to voice your opionion of a product you paid money for, because that opionion might be negative". What the? Who decides if an opionion is wrong? You? Is your opionion more right because you think you are more intelligent? It is the games job to get you to like it, not the other way around. If I dont like a game in the first hour, I will tell everyone this, including the Steam community

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