Valve moves to combat Steam review bomb campaigns

Valve is implementing new policies to combat Steam review bomb campaigns and protect games from off-topic reviews. The move comes after a number of games were the target of review bombs unrelated to the content of the game itself.

Valve announced the change in a blog post titled “User Reviews Revisited” earlier today. At its most basic, Valve is going to identify off-topic review bombs, and remove them from review scores. The company dove into how it will determine review bombs, what constitutes “off-topic” reviews and more.

For starters, the company is classifying review bombs as “a large number of reviews in a short period of time, aimed at lowering the Review Score of a game.” An off-topic review bomb has been defined by Valve 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, and hence not something that should be added to the review score.”

Valve noted that there are gray areas with regards to what is and what is not “off-topic” but the change will also let developers make decisions regarding how review bombs are counted. Developers will be able to decide to allow off-topic reviews to exist, but not reflect within the review score itself. Steam will also now show what periods of time are taken out of the calculation of a game’s review score.

One potential problem is that Valve is counting DRM and licensing agreement changes as off-topic, meaning community issues with these aspects of a game release won’t reflect in a game’s review score.

Steam review bomb campaigns have become increasingly prevalent over the past year with a number of high-profile titles being targeted. Valve’s own CS:GO was the target of a review bomb when it went free-to-play, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider was targeted for going on sale weeks after its release.