Valve is Updating Steam to Calculate Helpfulness of User Reviews

Two big changes coming to Steam reviews

Steam is receiving an update to better calculate which user reviews are helpful, creator Valve announced this week. 

Back in September, Valve implemented a system showing a timeline of user reviews in an effort to create better transparency about when a game was hit with what's known as a "review bomb." This, the company says, "resulted in a system that allows a small group to manipulate reviews to a degree that is clearly decreasing the value of Steam for many other players." 

In an effort to again better this system, the company is making two changes. Here they are, as told by Valve:

  • Firstly, our system will use a new method of calculating the helpfulness of each review, taking into account the users that are trying to manipulate the system. One way we're doing that is by counting the helpful ratings on reviews differently for users that are far outside the norm. Ratings from users that follow normal patterns of rating will continue to be counted the same way that they have, whereas accounts that rate an excessive number of reviews on an individual game will see the weight of each individual rating count for less and less.
  • Secondly, store pages will now show the default helpful positive and negative reviews in a similar proportion to that of the overall review score for the game. 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. This should keep the reviews shown on a game's page from being so easily manipulated by a few determined players and should more accurately represent the overall sentiment of the people playing the game.

These changes are rolling out in beta today, Valve announced. Steam users can turn the update on and off to "to see how it impacts the default display of reviews on any given store page."

Valve adds its still looking into new ways to make Steam reviews more useful, saying, "One thing we're looking at is how review scores on games change over time as games develop or languish and ways to better indicate how players are enjoying the game right now. We also want to better indicate when players are reviewing issues in a game that only pertain to a particular region (such as server locations), or particular language (such as poor translations)."