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Steam overhauls user reviews to counter spam bots

Platform holder seeks to take power away from accounts that rate an "excessive number of reviews"

Steam has taken further steps to readdress the issues with user reviews on the platform.

Under the old system there was a small set of users that were rating more than 10,000 reviews as helpful or unhelpful on a single game.

"This behaviour is not only humanly impossible, but definitely not a thoughtful indication of how 'helpful' each of those reviews were," said the Steam Team in a blog post.

"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."

The changes will tackle accounts that rate an excessive number of reviews on a single game by reducing the weight of each review rating, making it count for less compared to someone who operates within typical behaviours.

The store page will also be adjusted to ensure that the number of helpful and negative reviews displayed roughly matches the user review score of the game. So a game with 80% positive rating would feature eight positive reviews, and two negative.

This is the second overhaul of Steam user reviews in recent weeks, following an attempt to tackle review bombing on the platform.

While this achieved much of the desired effect of providing a system that was transparent and easy to understand, it failed to solve the entire problem.

"Unfortunately, this has 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," said the Steam Team.

Currently there are over 36 million reviews posted across Steam. In a perfect world, the platform holder admits, people would rate a handful of helpful reviews which could be used to determine the most helpful offerings.

"Alas, it turns out that not everyone is as helpful as we would like," said the Steam Team. "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."

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Ivy Taylor avatar
Ivy Taylor: Ivy joined in 2017 having previously worked as a regional journalist, and a political campaigns manager before that. They are also one of the UK's foremost Sonic the Hedgehog apologists.
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