While Total War Warhammer 3 has just been released, it has not gone without controversy as the game sits at a mixed review score on Steam following a Total War: Warhammer 3 review bomb by Chinese Players.
Anyone looking at the Steam page for Total War Warhammer 3 will see that 46% of the 2,245 user reviews are positive. These negative reviews have also hit its predecessor's page, which is currently marked for "one or more periods of off-topic review activity." The reason for the Total War Warhammer 3 review bomb, as Daniel Ahmad explains in a Twitter thread this morning, stems from Chinese players upset with how Creative Assembly and the Chinese game live streaming site DonYu handled the game's promotion. Although it doesn't get official releases in China, the Total War series is very popular in China, where players buy it through Steam to bypass usual restrictions on what games get sold. In particular, Total War: Three Kingdoms owes its status as the fastest-selling game in the series due to sales from China.
Total War: Warhammer III is out on Steam today and is being received well by most players.— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) February 17, 2022
But when you look at Chinese language reviews, 72% of them are negative. This also extends to Warhammer II, which saw negative reviews in the last few days.
Let's explore why 🧵 pic.twitter.com/hqiT7lXSjr
However, these same players who made Three Kingdoms so successful are upset about the promotion of Total War Warhammer 3. In the past, Creative Assembly usually gave promotional codes to streamers who enjoyed Total War games and had locked off certain parts of the game to avoid spoilers. However, this time the team wanted to reach a broader audience, which meant giving codes to a wider mix of streamers, some of which spoiled parts of the games in their streams. Those complaining are wondering why Creative Assembly gave codes to more disinterested streamers while those who'd be more interested in the game had to wait. "Those people have never played Warhammer at all, but you give it away for nothing, even if you give it away, you will also give away the deluxe version! Those of us who really love Warhammer, not only are we not free or discounted, we also have to pay 298 yuan," one translated comment says. Creative Assembly has acknowledged the issues and said they understand the complaints.
This is even impacting the previous game in the series, as a Total War: Warhammer 2 review bomb is happening as shown in the image below, by players who have been unhappy about the promotion of the sequel in the lead up to its release.
Review bombs can happen for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes it can happen due to players being unable to play an online game. Other times it can be because of Epic Game Store exclusivity. It can even happen due to cultural or political reasons. Whether this review bomb impacts long-term sales is yet to be seen, though it seems to be one of the odder ones we've seen.
Total War Warhammer 3 is available on Steam.