Valve has a bit of an issue when it comes to new features in its ever-present Steam client. Whenever something new like user reviews shows up, everyone is excited to try it out and speculates about how it improves or harms the PC gaming experience. Usually, obvious flaws are discovered, and then they are widely reported by gaming enthusiasts. The next logical step would be a quick fix to these issues, but Valve operates on Valve Time, which means that any updates to these systems will be released at seemingly random times years after the problems first presented themselves.
So here we are in 2016 and Valve has released a major upgrade to its user reviews system, which was first implemented and has remained relatively unchanged since late 2013. Unless you count the addition of a “Funny” button to be a major upgrade.
In any case, Valve released a news post detailing the changes, and they are all mostly smart upgrades that will make the system much more useful. On the right-hand side of the user reviews section, there is now a column that shows you the most recent reviews posted. In addition, games now have two user ratings, one summarizing recent reviews and the other taking all reviews into account. Smaller changes include the addition of a checkbox to alert readers that the reviewer received the game for free and the ability to see reviews in different languages if you so choose.
I’m very happy personally to see the addition of an official way to denote when you have been given a game for review, as this will help everyone separate out professionals, regular users, and those reviewers caught in the middle who work with Steam groups and developers directly. This will obviously also be helpful for games that go through Early Access and change often before release, as well as MMOs and other games that might put in microtransactions after an initial launch.
Do you use Steam reviews? Do you trust the rating summaries that Valve gives front and center? Why do I gravitate towards games that are “Overwhelmingly Negative” in my free time? Answer in the comments below!