If Something Happens, There Will Probably Be A Review Bomb On Steam

Every week, there's a new headline about jerks who inundate Steam pages with angry reviews. Sometimes, the protests aren't even about the game at all, but rather a larger controversy involving a developer or publisher. How did this become the now normal?

In the latest episode of Fave This, a new podcast hosted by Gita Jackson and me, we dive into the latest review bombing fiasco involving Campo Santo and Pewdiepie/YouTube fans, and why this phenomenon happens in the first place.

We also talk about review bombing on the wider internet, and the awkward social dynamics you find in games like Destiny 2 and Splatoon.

You can listen via the embed below, or find an MP3 of this episode here. Alternatively, we're on iTunes here (leave us a review!), on Google Play here and/or check out our RSS feed here.


Comments

    It makes sense really. User reviews seem to be the only outlet consumers have to bent their frustration that may actually have a developer take notice

      It doesn't take long to become a 'boy who cried wolf' situation though. If reviews lose their meaning and become just pitchfork mob pile-ons, developers won't give two shits what the reason behind it was because the reason could be anything. They'll just ride it out.

      This kind of thing only works when it's done appropriately and rarely. Which is exactly the opposite of how it's been used recently.

        I don't think it's quite so direct a link as negative reviews en mass gain developer attention.

        I suspect the way the cause->effect chain works is: negative reviews relative to other games cause the game to dip relative to other games, which makes the title less visible to shoppers, which hurts the hip pocket, which gets developer attention.

        It's not the noise that the publisher/developer are looking at... it's anything that might impact sales. 'Riding it out' stops being an option at that point.

        Also important is the qualifier: 'negative reaction relative to other games'
        Unless EVERYONE is getting equally review-bombed into oblivion (hasn't happened, isn't happening, won't happen), there will be winners and losers.

        Last edited 18/09/17 9:41 am

          There's very little developers can do when the message is either noise or unrelated to the game. At that point it's read as people complaining for the sake of complaining, any potential change will be seen as pissing one group or another off, and riding it out becomes the only option. Review bombing is a tantrum, as recent cases have exemplified. It's just not worth giving it attention.

          You see similar things all over the place. One example is the signal-to-noise ratio when it comes to valid criticism of Anita Sarkeesian's series, and the way Sarkeesian has pretty much just dismissed it all wholesale.

        Exactly, these days I listen to Steam reviews as much as I listen to Youtube comments.

    some people just want to play a good game and not get into the politics and the media hype surrounding developers and studios/publishers

    some just want to watch the whole dev studios break apart

    sim city is my pick for how fans totally ruined the series of games, however there is many more. recently there is bioware's mass effect... and im sure you guys can name others.

    good games destroyed by snowflakes

      Yes, sim city was totally ruined by the fans and EA/ Maxis are complete innocent!

        Yes EA wouldnt have EOL some of the games if there was still support from the gamers,
        gamers can kill off games with one fell swoop, the publisher has that right to kill it off then

    will thumb down until #chinese language translation

    Last edited 18/09/17 7:47 am

      In all seriousness, do you really give negative reviews for games that don't have one and never promised one?

        In all seriousness, I don't but thousands (1) do(2).

        For what it's worth, my observation is that it's now hard to find any reasonably mainstream game without such reviews nowadays, many of which have been left after buying the game, leaving a review, then refunding immediately afterwards.

          That's really interesting, thanks for the links. I'm an indie dev so I was curious if it was actually something worth giving priority. The answer seems to be yes :)

          it's now hard to find any reasonably mainstream game without such reviews nowadays

          Are you referring to language reviews, or bomb reviews in general?

    It's the closest the gaming community can come to having an actual impact on a game that they have already bought (too late to vote with their wallets). It's about reciprocity. I'm not saying they're right to do so, but when a dev takes action that is morally questionable, not to mention legally questionable, there really is no other way they can impact the developer in any remotely significant way.

      And to be fair, when a dev encourages other devs to undertake the same action, it's the easiest way of similarly encouraging a boycott.

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