"Off-topic review bombs" will no longer count toward Steam user scores

Steam “off-topic review bombs” will no longer count towards a game’s Review Score

If they decide that the reasons stated during that period are spurious enough to be considered "off topic", then that entire cluster of reviews will no longer factor into the overall score, and the developer will be informed, though no reviews will be removed.

How does Valve identify off-topic reviews?

It's clear that Valve understands that people don't want to just be silenced or have negative posts censored, so the reviews themselves aren't being removed.

"We define an off-topic review bomb as one where the focus of those reviews is on a topic that we consider unrelated to the likelihood that future purchasers will be happy if they buy the game", explains Valve.

Off-topic content will include obvious things such as storefront changes and exclusive publishing deals, and also complaints that are related to, but not actually about, games, including the presence of DRM and changes to EULAs.

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Valve has tweaked how the user review system works on Steam in an effort to combat review bombing, which has been an area of concern for some developers for quite some time. The review graph will also indicate which segment of offending reviews has been removed from the score.

A team at the company built a tool which identifies "anomalous review activity" as close to real-time as possible. This will unfortunately include reviews posted from non-nefarious individuals during that time period, though, because it "isn't feasible for us to read every single review". "But as we mentioned back in our first User Review post, our data shows us that review bombs tend to be temporary distortions, so we believe the Review Score will still be accurate, and other players will still be able to find and read your review within the period", Valve wrote.

Despite the simplicity of the proposition, Valve's blog post goes into some depth about what they consider off-topic, and the potential flaws of the new system.

Steam's review and rating system is a key part in many gamers' decision-making when they are on the hunt for a new title to play. It emphasized that it is not deleting reviews, but only changing the way it calculates review scores, and said that it has decided "not to unilaterally grandfather in what's happened in the past", which is presumably why the Metro reviews remain untouched despite clearly being review bombs. Our reasoning is that the "general" Steam player doesn't care as much about them, so the Review Score is more accurate if it doesn't contain them. It only takes a minute to dig into those reviews to see if the issue is something you care about.

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