Valve started removing “off-topic” reviews on Steam to counter the negative review bomb trend. Now, it’s faced with a new issue: positive review bombs.
In April, Ubisoft handed out free copies of Assassin’s Creed Unity on PC to encourage donations toward reconstruction of the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The firm also donated €500,000 ($565,000) to help with restoration and reconstruction.
This had led what at first seemed the reason for a large influx of positive reviews on Steam – something Valve considers a “positive review bomb.”
Unlike negative off-topic reviews, Vale has decided to leave the recent bombardment of positive reviews intact for Assassin’s Creed Unity, due the small impact it has had on the game’s overall score.
Plus, it appears a significant number of new players were leaving positive reviews. These players came from the free game giveaway, some had finally purchased it, and others appeared to be returning players.
“Data-wise, it doesn’t quite fit the pattern of negative review bombs: in the case of AC:Unity there was a significant increase in actual players alongside the increase in reviews,” said Valve. “That isn’t necessarily the case with a typical off-topic review bomb.
“Without reading the actual reviews, the data here all looks very much like a game that’s gone on sale, or received an update. It’s seen a spike in players, and as many people have come to realize, there’s a fairly good correlation between player count and user reviews – if you get more players, you’re going to get more reviews.”
Valve went on to say some of the reviews referenced Notre Dame or the giveaway, but the majority appear to be standard reviews.
These came from both new and returning players – both from the free PC version and the fact the game saw an uptick in sales on Steam.
“So it’s not clear it’s a review bomb [as] it certainly doesn’t fit our original definition in the “aimed at lowering the Review Score” section,” the company said. “But back in 2017 the community’s terminology around “review bombs” was also focused only on concerted negative efforts.
“It’d be nice to change that terminology to something that doesn’t imply positive or negative, but that’s really up to the community.”
You can read the full community post on the subject at the link.