Steam Reviews have been a problematic cesspool for years and one of its recurring issues has popped up again in recent weeks: review bombing. Review bombing is where a group of disgruntled users will air out frustration against a developer or a company by brigading the Steam user reviews of their game with low ratings, in the hope of ultimately affecting their sales. It's a slimy practice that has reared its ugly head again in the wake of the ongoing PewDiePie/Campo Santo DMCA story, which has prompted Valve to step forward and make some changes.
In a statement to the Steam Blog, Valve UI designer Alden Kroll spoke of the dangers of review bombing before announcing that Steam would introduce review histograms, allowing users to read user reviews from a select time period. It also allows Steam users to see how a game's reviews have trended over a period of time, displaying graphs that show spikes in negative or positive reviews.
"As a potential purchaser, it's easy to spot temporary distortions in the reviews, to investigate why that distortion occurred, and decide for yourself whether it's something you care about," Kroll says in the statement. "This approach has the advantage of never preventing anyone from submitting a review, but does require slightly more effort on the part of potential purchasers."
Firewatch has seen its Steam user ratings plummet since the PewDiePie controversy and since Campo Santo's DMCA takedown of his Firewatch videos. And while Steam has done nothing to prevent a surge of disingenuous reviews, it sure does have a handy dandy chart for seeing just how many of these questionable reviews have popped up since that incident.
This is the warning on Firewatch's page before user reviews are shown now, which is an interesting thing, revealing "reviews may be fishy" pic.twitter.com/1T34tkaYL5— Daniel Steger (@StegerGames) September 19, 2017
Kroll has not ruled out the possibility of Steam revisiting this issue in the future. But for now, there sure are a lot of charts now.