Most review-bombing scenarios aren’t filled with people being as blatant in their bomb reviews as with the “PewDiePie rules!” Firewatch reviews. A lot of games that get review-bombed end up with a lot of very generic one-line throwaways or meme reviews, indistinguishable from what might normally be posted for any game outside of the sudden volume.
Aside from that, I agree with you - if nothing else, the user review info at the top of a given game’s store page should have a disclaimer if the game has received a significant number of reviews weighted in a single direction in a short time without the game in question receiving a major update or DLC release.
This does little to combat mobs of poisonous drongoes, and may even bolster their attacks by gamifying their abuse.
Victims of these campaigns - not the cash-grabbing pubs, the small devs who have scarlet letters painted on their doors - aren’t happy. Those who paint the doors are, and are deploying the argument that review-bombing doesn’t impact sales anyway.
It is just fine. Just because you do not agree with a review or a reason to change a score does not mean it is not valid. One person’s “scarlet letter” is another’s “cash grab” and you are not the arbiter of everyone’s reviews. I get so weary about the hand-wringing over small developers. There are hundreds of shite games released on Steam every week from small developers. If you make a good game and you are consumer friendly you do not have to worry about this.
Look at the link that WarpRattler posted right above your post. The developer, whose games I enjoy, is complaining about one review. Maybe instead of looking at that one review, they should have concentrated more on not improving the release of ES2 rather than the buggy mess it is. There are 750 negative reviews and he is complaining about one of them. Big deal.
Review bombing is a new but fairly useful tool for consumers. It can show there has been a significant development with a game or publisher post-launch that a consumer should be aware of. Take Fallout 4 which is overwhelmingly negative recently. A new consumer would then be alerted to the Creation Club and whether or not they want to be deal with in-game advertisements for paid mods. It also sends a clear message to developers when they have done something that makes a significant portion of their user base unhappy.
Yes, the developer should, but that’s no excuse for the user review system to be so awful that a dev has no recourse for people leaving totally unrelated reviews on their game beyond flagging them and waiting for Valve to deal with them.
And we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg with review-bombing. What happens when 4chan or Reddit decide they really hate some inoffensive game and coordinate to tank its review score? Should we just sit back and say “well, that’s their rights as consumers”?
–What happens when 4chan or Reddit decide they really hate some inoffensive game and coordinate to tank its review score? Should we just sit back and say “well, that’s their rights as consumers”?–
And that’s the real danger here. Not consumers rising up against unfair practices of bad devs (which I can sort of get), but how it could be weaponized against devs who simply make a mistake or express a point of view gamers just don’t like. “Bombing” like this can sometimes literally take food out of a dev family’s mouth, and no “consumer rights” should be allowed to do that for possibly spurious reasons.
What happens when a bad game is released and the publisher uses whatever new anti review bombing system you want to hide negative reviews?
We already see companies censoring negative thoughts on steam forums.
Also, who gets to decide what is a garbage review? In some cases we’re assuming specific reviews are garbage even though they have just as many hours played as positive reviews. In the case of firewatch, yes it is obvious there was an unusual spike in negative reviews, but it is also obvious that there was an unusual spike in positive reviews to counter those negative reviews (partially). Obviously if they admit to it, you know, but if they don’t you’re only assuming they are not valid because your opinion differs from theirs.
It is surprising how little difference in the reviews something like this makes. If my character got reset in a game like that after playing dozens of hours, i probably would not be the happiest person in the world.
I also looked at Conan exiles, which released a really large “expansion” patch that was in an alpha state, and there really wasn’t that much kickback in the reviews, even though there was a lot of anger at the time.
I was also expecting a greater swing in Ark due to them releasing a paid expansion before the game was out of early access, or State of Decacy for selling a patch.
Working as intended. The minute you provide any power whatsoever to developers to remove reviews they do not like it will be abused 100-fold more than any scare tactic about 4chan or Reddit users. There are so many cases of shitty developers filing DMCA takedowns and mass deleting threads on Steam forums that it is not possible to count them all. Giving them power over reviews is tantamount to letting the fox in the henhouse. There is no doubt that power would be massively abused and abused frequently. You do not fix a problem with little chance of occurring by creating a much larger problem that you know will happen.
Then there is the simple fact that a developer should not have the right to censor my opinion whether they like it or not. Every single business out there faces the danger of having protests, reviews and the like used against them. The same exact excuse has been made against Yelp. It does not work there and it does not work here. Developers do not need a professional safe space in which they are immune to criticism or the potential ramifications of making poor decisions. If they truly feel that way they are free to sell their product on their own website and thus manipulate the reviews until their little hearts are content.
There is little to no real danger about 4chan or Reddit trying to purposely tank a review score for no reason. This requires a secret, coordinated effort to get dozens or hundreds of people to buy a game, tank the reviews and then refund the game without anyone noticing. I have heard flat Earth theories that sounded more plausible than that. Let us play this whole thing out. If the effort were kept secret then it is going to be impossible to figure out. It is just going to look like another shitty game. If the effort leaks and given the loudmouths on 4chan it most certainly would, the gaming press would be all over it. The resulting free publicity for the game by guys like Jim Sterling, Total Biscuit and SidAlpha would result in a large increase in sales. The resulting effort to sabotage a product would end up having the exact opposite effect.
Wait a minute. What happened to not counting reviews unless an account has a verified copy?
If you paid money for the game, I guess you have a right to leave whatever review you want. And then it follows that I have a right to ignore and vote down your review if it mentions some silly out-of-game bullshit. And so it goes…
Those who hate review bombing, serious question time: how would you feel if a dev was a neo-nazi and was using revenue from the inoffensive unrelated game to fund the local hate group. Wouldn’t you appreciate some prominent steam user reviewers that tell you about this (even when it’s not about the game itself)?