Valve Changes Steam Reviews Again

Valve Changes Steam Reviews Again

Last week, Valve made some big changes to Steam reviews. Developers, especially, didn’t love them. Developers were worried by the part where Steam would default to not showing reviews by people who received game keys from places like Kickstarter, as opposed to directly purchasing from Steam. Valve made the change to counter fraudulent reviews and other means of artificially bolstering review scores. Today, though, they announced that they’re walking it back a bit.

One frequent piece of feedback we’ve heard regarding the recent changes is that it has become more difficult to find and read the helpful, articulate reviews written by customers that obtained the game outside of Steam. We want to make sure that helpful reviews can be surfaced regardless of purchase source, so we’re making a change to the defaults.
Starting today, the review section on each product page will show reviews written by all users, regardless of purchase type. By default you’ll now see reviews written by all players of the game, including Steam customers, Kickstarter backers, bundle customers, streamers, and other users that acquired the game outside of Steam.

Review scores, however, will continue to be based exclusively on purchases made within Steam.

It’s good that Valve listened, but many developers value reviews because large numbers of them (especially positive ones) give them a big leg up in Steam’s search and discoverability algorithms. I imagine some developers are still gonna be pretty upset that their scores won’t be affected by users they acquired fair and square outside of Steam.

That’s not to say it doesn’t make sense for Valve to bring reviews of Steam games, you know, inside Steam. And certainly, preventing fraudulent reviews is an admirable goal. It’s just that when you encourage developers to create communities outside Steam — to pull their lifeblood for things like Greenlight campaigns from elsewhere — and then randomly turn that foundation upside-down without changing other systems to match, you risk a lot of honest people getting caught in the crossfire.

Valve added, however, that reviews are still very much a work-in-progress. The “helpful” system, for instance, is apparently up next for an overhaul. As for where the rest of this all goes, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, if only because I don’t imagine Valve will tell anyone until the next round of changes is live, and the cycle of “Wait, what the fuck” begins all over again.


    • Game reviews are not a work in progress… they are a review of the game in the state its currently in.

      Release a unpolished turd expect those kinds of reviews, live in denial of those reviews and just blindly polish the turd your not going to change opinions.

      Like in real life you get one opportunity to make a good impression, Devs shouldnt accuse players for hating their game if they dont do right or release way too early. Also sceptical of any kickstarter review cause they bought an illusion or a promise that diesnt live up to delivery for normal players *cough* no man sky.

      Glad they are keeping articulate reviews as they tend to be from game critics and curators who get review copies.

    • They’re referring to the review system as a work in progress there, not the reviews themselves.

  • Yet another example of Valve doing something, pissing a lot of people off, and then either partially or completely un-doing it again a week later. Maybe some day they’ll get the process down to less than 24 hours!

    • Steam patch notes, 21/09/2016:

      Changed systems, added 10 new features. Removed all 10 new features.

      Patch size: 0MB

      Install now

      • The patch size will still be huge… cause it would actually install the changes, remove the changes and include hidden updates to monitor reviews… followed by at least two updates to fix the conflicts 😛

    • Imagine that, a company responding to feedback and making changes accordingly. If only Ubisoft were that useful. Of course, considering how many people use Steam (both as consumers and sellers) it’s probably nigh-on impossible to make a change that won’t piss a few thousand people off.

    • I get your point, but I do see this as them attempting something good and then refining it based on feedback. Being able to filter by purchases on Steam is at least a useful tool, so we have gained something good out of this.

      I’d also like to be able to filter on play time, although that number is a bit vague given that it counts up even when you just leave the game running without interacting with it.

    • Pretty standard practice for development, actually. It’s called Iterative Design. You build a new idea fairly quickly, float the idea, pass it through User Acceptance, release, and if it doesn’t go well change/remove it. The idea is that you don’t spend 6-9 months on a feature, and then you can’t remove it because you spent so long on it. You build it in small pieces and try to improve in quick cycles

  • So developers were angry that people who didn’t purchase the game on steam couldn’t write reviews on steam?
    I’m fairly sure I can’t give feedback on ebay for a product I bought on amazon.

  • Valves helpful/unhelpful review system is broken. Make a funny comment in Reddit 10/10 would play again format and it gets heaps of helpfuls. Make legitimate comments about a game’s flaws and it gets mostly unhelpfuls. Like or Dislike is a more realistic terminology.

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