Valve says it’s taking a new approach to user reviews on its gaming marketplace Steam, after attempting and largely failing to solve the problem of so-called review bombing that taints its consumer recommendation system.
In a blog post published today, Valve says that it’s “continued to listen to feedback from both players and developers,” and it’s implementing a new approach: hiding the off-topic review scores.
The company says that it defines a 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.” To identify such campaigns, Valve says that it’s developed a tool to identify periods of time where a review bombing is occurring, which notifies employees that are then tasked with investigating.
Once the investigation is complete, Valve will mark off the period of time where the incident began and will remove any review activity that occurs after from affecting from the overall review score.
But, in some cases, it’s also used as a bad-faith tactic to retaliate against a company or public figure associated with said company, typically over a verbalized political stance online or a headline-grabbing controversy unrelated to the actual product itself.
Still, get enough like-minded people together, and you can drive down a product’s rating, deterring people from buying it, or at least steering the discussion around it on your own terms.