Sometimes events happen in succession that might seem related but maybe aren’t. Like an athlete saying he’s trying a new approach and then getting injured the next game. Players get injured all the time and it’s not always due to trying something different. Or thinking you need to phone someone and having them call just seconds later. You’re not psychic; it’s just a coincidence.

With that caveat in mind, consider this: People have been urging Steam to do more with its reviews, particularly to address the problem of “review bombing.” That’s when a bunch of angry gamers get together to give negative reviews to a game due to some perceived slight by the developer. That tanks its rating and, theoretically, makes it less desirable to potential new players, hurting sales. We saw it when Payday 2 introduced microtransactions, after promising not to. More recently, it’s happened to Firewatch in the wake of the recent incident involving PewDiePie and Campo Santo’s threatened DMCA takedown of his videos.

Finally, Valve has decided to take action. In a blog post yesterday, Community Manager Alden talked about the various methods Valve had considered for addressing review bombing, even going so far as to discuss removing reviews altogether. Rather than that drastic route, Valve has decided to add charts to games’ review pages, so players can “see how a game’s reviews have evolved over time.” If a game has received an unusually high number of negative reviews recently, a notification appears above the chart, alerting Steam users to that fact.

So why take this step now? It’s possible that these new charts are just the culmination of months, if not years, of efforts and discussions by Valve.

But then there’s this:

That’s the review graph for Dota 2. It’s been getting bombed in recent weeks, and at first I thought that was due to the awful reception to Artifact. It turns out that’s probably not the case but instead is due to the recent publication of the Half-Life 2: Episode 3 script by a former Valve employee, which coincides almost perfectly with the major influx of negative Dota 2 reviews.

So, to recap: Valve’s biggest current game gets review bombed on Steam. Less than a month later, Valve implements a policy to try and combat review bombing on Steam. Are these two unrelated incidents that happened to roughly coincide, time-wise? We’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.


  1. It’s not the first time valve has decided to wait so long to make a change. Before it was the greenlight and how everyone was able to post a “game” on there. It wasn’t until someone posted a gif of that so raven having a vision of a black guy eating chicken and watermelon slices (blending and chicken commercial with that’s so raven), before that steam greenlight was an issue, allowing all of these horrible games and “games” through but after that point they changed things to “early access”. No we’re dealing with people making cash grabs by saying their game is in early access and we have to rely on the developer’s word that they’ll keep working on it (anyone remember the stomping lands, Orion, or WarZ incidents… Before WarZ was changed to infestation stories or some bs)

    • Boi, war z was a cash grab long before it even touched steam. When War Z finally got to steam it was already dead, they were just desperate for that little milk at the bottom of the carton. Now is under a different and better developer which I know personally. Besides, what does cash grabbing green light has to do with review bombing? They are getting review bombed most likely because of their new CCG, that’s all.


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