Valve Is Addressing Steam's "Review-Bombing" Problem, Here's How

Valve Is Addressing Steam's "Review-Bombing" Problem, Here's How

In the wake of new PewDiePie controversy, Valve has announced that it's making some changes to Steam User Reviews to mitigate some problems related to "review bombing." After PewDiePie's latest outburst, the developer of Firewatch called out the outspoken streamer and said it would issue DMCA takedown notices against his Firewatch videos. Not everyone took this news well, and a group of people "review bombed" Firewatch on Steam; that is, players posted a lot of negative reviews on Steam to lower its overall review score.

Review bombing is a problem, Valve said, because people are criticizing the game for reasons outside of the game itself. "It might be that they're unhappy with something the developer has said online, or about choices the developer has made in the Steam version of their game relative to other platforms, or simply that they don't like the developer's political convictions," Valve said. "Many of these out-of-game issues aren't very relevant when it comes to the value of the game itself, but some of them are real reasons why a player may be unhappy with their purchase."

Valve notes that an overall review score for a game that has been review-bombed generally returns to where it was before. In the case of Firewatch, the game overall rating is Very Positive, though its recent review score is labeled as Mixed, reflecting the review bombing.

"This implies that, while the review bombers were unhappy with a decision the developer made, the purchasers of the product afterwards were often as happy with the game as the players before them," Valve said. "In the cases where the Review Score didn't return fully to its prior level, we believe the issue behind the review bomb genuinely did affect the happiness of future purchasers of the game, and ended up being accurately reflected in the regular ongoing reviews submitted by new purchasers. In some review bomb cases, the developers made changes in response to the community dissatisfaction, and in others they didn't--but there didn't seem to be much correlation between whether they did and what happened to their Review Score afterwards."

Review bombing is problematic, Valve continued, because it makes it more difficult for the overall review score to accurately reflect whether or not you'd be interested in a game. Valve wants to "fix that" and in such a way that it won't stop players from voicing their genuine opinions.

In terms of solutions, Valve said one option would be to remove the Review Score altogether, so that players would need to read the actual user reviews. They could then make the call for themselves about whether or not issues outside the game are relevant. However, Valve is not going to pursue this avenue. "Scores were added in response to player demand in the past, and that demand for a summary of some kind is likely to still be there, even if players know it isn't always accurate," Valve said.

Valve also considered temporarily locking reviews, not unlike the way in which real-world stock markets can block some stocks from being traded when issues are detected. But Valve isn't pursuing this either because, "We're confident it would still result in the Review Score moving down after the lock period ended." Valve also considered changes to the way it calculates review scores, with a focus on more recent information.

But Valve is not going forward with any of these ideas. Instead, Valve is now going to focus more on how users can peruse review data to make an informed decision.

"Starting today, each game page now contains a histogram of the positive to negative ratio of reviews over the entire lifetime of the game, and by clicking on any part of the histogram you're able to read a sample of the reviews from that time period," Valve said. "As a potential purchaser, it's easy to spot temporary distortions in the reviews, to investigate why that distortion occurred, and decide for yourself whether it's something you care about. This approach has the advantage of never preventing anyone from submitting a review, but does require slightly more effort on the part of potential purchasers."

Valve ended its post by saying nothing is set in stone. It could be that Valve revisits its approach to deliver a better solution. You can read the full blog post here.

Replies 37


This is true! So many games are good but have bad critics


I see the point about reviews not being about the game and focusing on the publisher/developer.  Still, not everyone separates the "art" from the "artist" so for some people the reviews are valid.  I can see why Valve and the creators would be worried though.  If I see a game as mixed or worse I don't even bother checking it out. 


I think Valve has made a good decission. Review-Bombing is also a kind of free-speech, but the possibility to filter them out with the advice that there have been a lot of bad reviews in a special timeline is a clever solution. So all sides are heard (if custumer wants).



  Finally a good decision , so many good games out there , but are not promoted properly or not at all and those games don't get the attention that is well deserved .


I think that this is a good solution to the constant problem of hatred of some people to the game only because of the subjective sensation. Yesterday I tried the new system and I liked it. A wise decision. Thanks to the author for the news!


In terms of solutions, Valve said one option would be to remove the Review Score altogether, so that players would need to read the actual user reviews.

That's just Valve being lazy as always.

Even if they won't do it, just mentioning it shows that they have no ideas.



well, yeah valve isn't wrong. there's a lot of babies starting to become teenage kids. of course they whine. here's something to do valve, if the review has nothing to do with the game, delete them. pretty simple. i know they won't see this but, it's a try.


they're right


Valve being Valve again provides no real solution to the problem. You get a histogram where you can see the review scores over time and detect sudden downturns (review bombing).

In short, Valve leaves all the heavy lifting to the user who has to do even more research now if he wants to make an informed buying decision.

Edit: Also let's not forget that review bombing can be a great tool to get the attention of publishers/developers. The ban on mods in GTA V was taken back due to the flood of negative reviews.

i r l33t h@x0r! All that neon light adds at least 15MHz to the system. Serious! Mitnick told me it does on IRC.


Gamers don't have alot of ways for being heard by devs, and this one is very powerful because it will affect their sells. So i'm fine what Valve is doing. It seems fair.

Commenting is not permitted on this content.
  • 198 Points


Valve is making some changes.

Published por thitz

Popular News

Elder Scrolls Online livestream reveals first look at Murkmire DLC

Recently Bethesda released a livestream of Murkmire, an upcoming DLC release for their title Elder...
Sep 17, 2018 • por ti_radiateur • 35 Respuestas • 1079 Points

A Rainbow Six movie is coming

Michael B. Jordan will star in two films based on Tom Clancy books.
Sep 21, 2018 • por Kureka • 56 Respuestas • 754 Points

ARK: Survival Evolved Mod Contest Announced

by Michael Borge on 18 September 2018
Sep 18, 2018 • por NadineR • 20 Respuestas • 623 Points

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti trounces Pascal and Volta GPUs in leaked benchmarks

NVIDIA IS LAYING SOME SMACKDOWN onto its own graphics cards, with leaked benchmarks showing the RTX...
Sep 19, 2018 • por ninjacat630 • 20 Respuestas • 581 Points