Some studios on Steam have no problem getting noticed. In fact, they might be getting too much attention in the form of review bombs from people who might not have even played the game they’re trashing. And Valve, the video game company that owns PC gaming’s biggest platform, didn’t help matters with its recent move to keep review-bombing from affecting a developer’s games.
Tuesday, Valve announced a solution to tackle review-bombing (the practice of hordes of people leaving bad comments and reviews in anger), and it’s not a practical one. A new graph will give customers info on the history of user reviews along with alerts about abnormal spikes in negative reviews. But will it tell you why it has negative reviews? Nope. Unless you have context, such as knowing that PewDiePie fans are attacking Firewatch because they are upset with indie studio Campo Santo’s takedown request of his videos of the game, you don’t know why these negative reviews are coming in.
And that does nothing to solve the problem Valve’s trying to address. I give it credit for trying to do something, but here’s an idea: Why can people who don’t even own a given game on a platform review it there? Change your system so that if you don’t own the game on that platform, you can’t review it — this includes banning reviews from those who buy a game, never play it, and then leave a review before getting refund, as these are clearly review-bombers if the review is negative. Making this restriction could put a stop of review-bombing. Seems like a simple solution to me. Wish I had an easy way to fix toxicity in games, though.
Or, you know, hire people to moderate the reviews if you don’t want to take that step.
Meanwhile, I’m going back to what’s shaping up to be my game of the year — Divinity: Original Sin 2, a role-playing game that’s hot on Steam (though nowhere near as popular as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds). Original Sin 2 so good (so far, as I’m not finished yet) that it very well could surpass Baldur’s Gate 2 for what I consider to be the gold-standard for turn-based RPGs.
—Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor
P.S. Remember Marble Madness, one of the classic PC games of the 1980s? The Little Ball That Could is an updated take on beloved maze game.
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