Valve Updates Steam Review System

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Steam Review System Updated

You may have noticed that yesterday Valve tweaked Steam's user review system to better reflect the changing nature of games over time and numerous patches. A bit like the way New Releases was initially spammed with rubbish titles on the main page to include Popular New Releases that was the bane of many gamers and reviewers that knocked top titles straight off, we now see a better overview of reviews before purchasing or not.

This was also how personal Discovery Queue came about. Once logged in it can recommend titles based on simple algorithms based upon either popular titles you own/play or your friends or the general Steam community enjoy and suggests alternatives you may also enjoy - Steam trailed this in the Winter sale of 2015 to huge success with views up 3-fold  (at the time during the sale you gained Steam Trading Cards for viewing up to three times a day during the 13-day event). Not only were sales up, Valve noted an increase of 197% in added titles to Wishlists although figures on eventual sales are unknown.

Recent User Reviews

Let me take Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth - Rising Tide as a good example of a title that was expected to be right up there with the success of CIV V but left a huge following of fans very disappointed, ie, lacked a huge amount of content versus previous series, barely average gameplay mechanics. Since CIV:BE was released on October 5th 2015 there have been 491 user reviews submitted with an overall rating of 81%, categorised as Very Good. The newly introduced system adds the Recent overview to the review summary to better indicate how the game has been recently to better reflect impressions since release after DLCs and patches. To be rated in the Recent Reviews the title has to have been on Steam and available for 45 days and reviews that are included are only within the previous 30 days.


You can see there could be some misinterpretation of such figures as the Recent Reviews differ so wildly and could be abused, this is why I'd still consider Overview Reviews along with  independent reviews and personal recommendations.

To put a vague Steam "Mixed" / "Very Positive" rating into content this is a best guess of the rating system from a quick check of SteamDB/Steam to see how it fits into each category. Please correct me if you notice a mistake along with URL to said title :)

95% ~ 99% - Overwhelmingly Positive (large review size)
80% ~ 94% - Very Positive (large review size)
80% ~ 94% - Positive (small review size)
70% ~ 79% - Mostly Positive (large review size)
40% ~ 69% - Mixed (large review size)
20% ~ 39% - Mostly Negative (large review size)
0% ~ 19% - Negative (small review size)
0% ~ 19% - Very Negative (large review size)
0% ~ 9% - Overwhelmingly Negative (large review size)


Mods off-topic: I do wonder about the impact of future Valve/studio implemented mod reviews (hopefully free and accessed via Steam Workshop) in how this will be better presented in future since these are cross-platform related, reading all those mod reviews will be RSI inducing and trend of scrolling the wall of text is far from ideal. To date with the likes of Fallout 4 thanks to the Creation Kit, an official SDK, you have to go by 0 ~ 5 star ratings or knowing the mod that was previously available on Nexus. The benefit of Bethesda vetting mods is that any malicious mods are routed out although unheard of yet, and the very important Load Order is automatically set with the other mods to avoid conflicts and crashes. This is something that Steam hasn't even touched upon yet, you can download mods from the Steam Workshop for a variety of Football management titles (Football Manager series, Football Tactics) yet making it work and avoiding conflicts or save corruption is entirely down the end user.


So how do you see the new filter in action I hear you ask... select Recent (as per image above) and you'll see this new overview and it states "Most Helpful Reviews: In the past 30 days". To the right is the most recently submitted reviews and to the left is the main review section you'll find the most voted reviews. Note: I had to limit the image to 640 pixels in width otherwise with the background texture the original would be too large for a PNG (JPG isn't great for text), however you can view this page here


I shall include the Press Release in the spoiler below along with the direct URL in further reading ...


Customer Review System Updated To Show Recent Reviews And Summary

One common theme we've been seeing in customer feedback about the Steam review system is that it isn't always easy to tell what the current experience is like in a game months after release. This new set of changes released today is designed to better describe the current customer experience in those games. We do this by better exposing the newly posted reviews and by calculating a summary of those recent reviews.

Visibility For Recently Posted Reviews
While there are plenty of new reviews posted every day, we saw that it was often difficult for newer reviews to be seen and voted on enough to become listed as most helpful. As a result, the most helpful reviews presented on a store page would often describe an outdated view of a game that might have changed dramatically over the course of Early Access or post-release development. By listing recently posted reviews more prominently and by defaulting to recent helpful reviews, Steam can now show a more current idea of what it's like to play the game now.

Recent Review Score
Another problem we identified was that review score that appears at the top of a product page didn't always reflect the dynamic nature of the game. For that review score, we'd previously only been compiling an overall score using a simple calculation of the percentage of all reviews that were positive. This let us be really transparent in how the score was being calculated, but didn't accommodate cases when a game has changed a lot (for better or worse) over time.

To address that, we've now added a Recent review score that calculates the positive percentage of reviews within the past 30 days (as long as there are enough reviews posted within those 30 days and as long as the game has been available on Steam for at least 45 days). The overall score is still present as well in case you still find that information helpful.

Other Review Updates

In addition to the above updates, we've made a few other changes:

  • The customer review section on a game's store page has a new "Summary" tab that focuses on recent helpful reviews and recently posted reviews. You can still find overall most help reviews by selecting "Most Helpful" tab.
  • There's a new checkbox when writing a review to more easily disclose if you received the copy of the game for free.
  • You can now view all reviews regardless of language by selecting "All Languages" from the language dropdown in the reviews tab of the Community Hub for the game.

If you have questions, feedback, or find bugs in the review system, please let us know in the Steam discussions:

Further reading:

Introducing Steam Reviews

Customer Review System Updated To Show Recent Reviews And Summary - added 3rd May 2016


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