For many critics of Valve, today is a rare day to celebrate. Last Monday, Valve updated their user review policy out of the blue, making it so that only reviewers who had purchased games on Steam would be counted in the storefront’s cumulative review score. This change was meant to combat games who distributed thousands of keys in hopes of propping up their review scores and getting a better spot on the store. However, with this positive change came a host of negatives, leaving everyone from professional reviewers to YouTubers to Kickstarter backers out of the conversation. Developers had mixed opinions on the change as well.
Today’s tweaks to the system walk those changes back somewhat, with Valve now defaulting to have all reviews shown on a store page. If you prefer to only see reviews from key activations or Steam customers, you can now choose that option on one game’s page and it will carry over across the rest of the store. This doesn’t change the fact that a game’s cumulative score will only be calculated from Steam customers, but it does allow all types of reviewers to have their reviews been seen.
Along with this fix, a few more improvements have been made to the overall system. As seen on the above image from ARK: Survival Evolved‘s Steam page, the “Mixed” ranking has been given its own unique color to help differentiate it from positive and negative rankings. Elsewhere in Steam, looking up a user’s review history will now be a bit easier, as they are now organized in chronological order rather than nebulous “helpful” ratings they were sorted by before today.
Valve notes, as they did with the previous update, that these changes are an ongoing process, and more changes are coming. The blog post states that users will be able to opt into a beta test in the near future that will test a sorting algorithm that they hope will sort out “meme” reviews and get the most in-depth critiques to the top.
I’m happy with these changes. As someone who gets most his games through key activations, I was quite saddened that my reviews couldn’t be shared on Steam pages, even if I wasn’t formally reviewing the game for TechRaptor. This is a good compromise that will serve to let everyone have their say while still stripping the power away from shady developers and 10,000 key giveaways. I also really like that “Mixed” stands out more in the current setup, and I’d love to see an in-between option between positive and negative recommendations in the reviews themselves to further cement this change.