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Steam Tackles User Reviews With Histograms After 'Firewatch' Backlash: Here's What You Need To Know

For gamers, Steam's user reviews are the popular consensus on whether a game is good or not.

[Credits: Valve]

When it comes to the media industry, reviews are meant to function as a shorthand, telling you what you need to know just by looking at the numbers. The higher the score, the better the game, movie, or show. For gamers, Steam's user reviews are the popular consensus on whether a game is good or not, and has since become a place for meme like joke reviews (such as the ones below) that absolutely serve no purpose for actual users looking for an accurate assessment of a game.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim User Reviews [Credits: Valve]

In recent days, Steam has implemented a new tool in order to help combat these types of reviews. A recent issue with review bombing has been hitting Campo Santo's game #Firewatch after the most recent controversy with Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg.

Sean Vanman, co-founder of Camp Santo, issued a DMCA take down notice for the YouTuber's videos. Whether or not these were fans, defendants for the proper use of copyright claims, or just trolls, Campo Santo saw their game get slammed, just as Bethesda has suffered due to the Creation Club tool, which will allows gamers to pay for premium mods that do not disable trophies or achievements.

Firewatch Steam User Reviews [Credits: Valve]

Before you go further, please tell us what "review bombing" is.

For those unaware, the topic at hand is something known as review bombing. This is an event that happens when Steam users band together and drive a game's review score down.

This event is detrimental to both the developer, the publisher, and the consumers. This is a troublesome ordeal that Steam has been combating since they first introduced user reviews.

What happened with Campo Santo and this PewDiePie dude?

To summarize it briefly, PewDiePie was playing a popular game known as #PUBG. During the livestream, PewDiePie was attempting to take out another player when he used the N-bomb, a racial slang that to some is inexcusable no matter the circumstance.

This wasn't taken lightly by the co-founder of Campo Santo, the studio behind the smash-hit indie title Firewatch. In retaliation to PewDiePie's words, Scott Vanaman went on a bit of a tangent about the YouTuber's actions, and filed a DMCA claim against his account, which saw his videos of Firewatch removed.

Fallout 4 Review Bombing after Creation Clubs launch. [Credits: Valve]

Review bombing is nothing new. #Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Titan Souls have all fallen victim to the use of review boming. Even a movie called Game Loading, a documentary about the hard to discuss #GamerGate, was quickly hit with instantly low reviews the moment it went live. The pages for these games quickly look like a crime scene, one that is muddled with fake reviews filled with slander, and unjustified low scores.

PewDiePie himself has even gone far enough to tell his fans to stop review bombing Firewatch and even asked them to fix their review.

So, how is Valve combating fake Steam user reviews now?

Today, Valve has introduced review histograms as part of their attempt to combat this plague known as review bombing. Before this, Steam implemented several requirements for user reviews. One of them required users to own the game before they can submit their thoughts on it. They've even added moderators into the system, but now they have added a new feature known as histograms. Histograms show the collective data of past reviews and how the review trend is developing over time.

This will allow both Steam reviewers, the publishers, and even developers to see what review trend is occurring at that given time, and a chance for it to be corrected by the admins themselves. Unfortunately, it's not a perfect system, but it is certainly is an interesting step. We can only wonder how well the new system will work when it happens again, if it happens again.

Fallout 4 User Review Histogram [Credits: Valve]

Can this plague be stopped?

The truth is, it will be hard to stop review bombing completely. It's an issue that isn't just one online. It happens offline as well as is approval can be spread by word of mouth or even social media outlets such as Facebook, Reddit, and even Twitter, which happens more often than not.

For now, it is our job as a community to provide constructive criticism, and offer suggestions on how problems can be fixed. Will our community as gamers do that? It is entirely up to us to take a stand and help stop this form of toxicity within our own culture.

(Source: Game Informer)

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