Thoughts on Steam User Reviews Update

Steam has an active online community with game discussions, groups, chatrooms, workshops, artwork, greenlight, and even streaming. The service has a lot to offer in terms of user interaction. A large part of these features are the user reviews, which allow any user that owns a game and plays for a certain amount of time to then be able to write up a review on it. Valve even added curators, which is the ability for groups to recommend games for their group members and possibly be featured on store pages for said games. They can even be followed without being part of the group. So it’s easy to see that the user reviews are indeed a significant feature of community involvement.

These reviews can be short or lengthy and formatted in a multitude of ways. There’s a lot of freedom in it, really. However, it all comes down to one simple rating system; recommended or not recommended. This is simple, but it’s also imprecise. You’ve got to consider a lot of things and boil it down to whether or not you’d recommend it. Everyone is bound to have their own criteria of what to consider and what it more important then other things. Do you consider price, playtime, and replay value? Do you think trading cards or more or less important than achievements? Did you get the game on sale, full price, or totally free? There’s just so much to consider, but at least it gives the everyday user a voice and opinion on these games rather than leaving it to big name reviewers.

A common complaint I’ve had with this system is that many people decide to leave single-sentence “reviews” trying to be clever. These can be funny, but they hardly reflect the quality of the game and end up diluting the pool of reviews and ratings. One way to cut down on this was by adding the ability to mark a review as funny rather than the typical helpful or not helpful. This is important because reviews with more of a helpful rating would soar to the top of the defaulted list, underneath those of your friends of course. However, even this method could not fix the damage done. It also left the review section and overall game rating to be dominated by the sway of early reviewers. Sure, you always had the ability to select a filter for positive, negative, or most recent reviews, but the default that most people saw was simple the most popular ones the whole time. This meant that it was very difficult for newer, possibly more relevant reviews to be seen. That’s where this new system comes into play.

The new system changes the default review section into a summary tab that consists of two columns. In the left column you have the most helpful reviews posted in the past 30 days. This goes along with the added rating near the top. Alongside the overall rating, which is the same as always, there’s a recent rating that reflects the ratings of the past 30 days. This is all very nice because many games change over time. There are lots of patches and updates put into play here, especially with early access games. So seeing a popular review from years ago might not necessarily reflect the current status of the product. It’s a really nice way to keep opinions and evaluations relevant. The right column in the summary tab shows a brief list of the most recent reviews posted. Again, the most helpful, most recent, negative, and positive reviews are all available to select via tabs on the review section, but having both the current most helpful AND the most recent posts default to the front allows for more eyes to get onto the newest and most helpful reviews at the given time.

This system is great for people looking for accurate information on their potential purchases as well as for the people looking to put hard work into their reviews, such as myself. It’s just really exciting and helpful. It could be abused by those who copy and paste their old reviews to get eyes on them, but it would mean losing all of their old stats in the process and may require multiple tries. So it COULD be abused, but it would require effort, and not everyone is willing to put in that effort just to get their reviews potentially seen. So overall I’d say this is a pretty good step in the right directions. Now if only they could fix some of their other features… I’m lookin’ at you, Steam Greenlight. So to end this, I’ll leave you with two things. First, here’s a link to my Steam review of Rogue Legacy

http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561198123412640/recommended/241600/

And underneath this paragraph you’ll find a video of me rambling about this same feature, in case you’re interested in my channel at all or would rather that instead of reading… though you would’ve needed to scroll down to see it so… fuck. What do you think of this new system and the Steam user review system in general? Leave a comment! Now get to writing your own reviews now that it’s a little more worth it, why don’t ya?

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