Steam reviews tweaked to bring more ‘helpful’ reviews to the foreground
Value has again changed up the review system on Steam to bring “helpful reviews” to the foreground. This is determined by the number of users who agree or disagree that they found a review helpful. The system, unfortunately, is already being exploited.
A new post on Steam reads, “In a perfect world, people would truthfully mark a few reviews that were helpful for deciding to purchase or not purchase the game and we could use that data to directly determine the ten most helpful reviews. Alas, it turns out that not everyone is as helpful as we would like. Instead, we are seeing more and more feedback from players that the helpful reviews shown on store pages aren’t representative of how well people are actually enjoying the game.”
Around 11 million people currently participate in the helpful review system, but the normal operation isn’t going according to plan. Valve says “a small set of users on the far extreme” will rate thousands of reviews of the same game in order to bias the system.
“This behavior is not only humanly impossible, but definitely not a thoughtful indication of how ‘helpful’ each of those reviews were. These users also tend to rate up just the negative reviews while rating down the positive reviews (or vice-versa) in an attempt to distort which reviews are shown by default.”
It continues: “Because of how many reviews these users are rating, they each have a disproportionate amount of influence over the display of helpful reviews and cause certain reviews to appear more prominently than they should be. This can result in a confusing appearance where the default set of reviews shown are negative, even when most players have posted positive reviews and clearly enjoy the game.”
Valve will treat users who participate in helpful spamming differently than casual users. In this way, Steam will adopt a Rotten Tomatoes-esque system. “For example, if the game is reviewed positively by 80% of reviewers, then the ten reviews shown by default on the store page will be 80% positive, showing eight positive and two negative.”