Change of Heart? I think not! Updates to the Steam Review Change

Read the Announcement here:
Steam’s Announcement – 9/20/2016 – 2:12pm

And more on their previous update here:

Why, Valve… Just Why? (Updates to the Steam Review System)

Steam may have had a change of heart. Or perhaps they’re just trying to silence the discord. Either way, Steam announced more changes or ‘tweaks’ as they called it to their recently revamped review system.

The announcement addresses some of the pet peeves a lot of folks tend to have with nonsensical reviews. Or those reviews that are like:

– “10/10 gg”
– “It’s ok”
– “[Insert ASCII penis art as your review]”

Yea, those reviews. Well, Steam has addressed the concerns where the better, more articulate reviews were getting shoved to the back. Since the majority of the well thought out reviews were received from sources other than Steam.

 We want to make sure that helpful reviews can be surfaced regardless of purchase source, so we’re making a change to the defaults. Starting today, the review section on each product page will show reviews written by all users, regardless of purchase type. By default you’ll now see reviews written by all players of the game, including Steam customers, Kickstarter backers, bundle customers, streamers, and other users that acquired the game outside of Steam. – Steam Announcement

Re-read the part in bold there. Looks like now all Users’ will be able to see reviews regardless of where the key was purchased versus the default being Steam Only. This was the primary issue with the new system as it pretty much tossed out everyone else if you didn’t buy the key from Steam. This is good they’re moving in the right direction with inclusion instead of disregarding huge amounts of reviews sometimes totaling thousands for some games.

Steam in a nutshell

Although, reading on in the announcement, one soon realizes that that was all Steam changed. That’s right, regardless of where you bought the key (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Humble, IndieGala, etc.) your reviews still WILL NOT count towards the overall score.

You read correctly, dear readers. Now, read that here from Steam themselves:

This change doesn’t impact the review score. Each game’s score will continue to be calculated based only on customers that purchased the game via Steam.
– Steam Announcement

So, a little counter-intuitive don’t you think? Steam allows all reviews to be seen based on a Users’ specific ‘purchase type’ but those reviews still will have zero impact on scores.

Meaning, games that have a Negative score which previously were Positive because of all reviews being included towards the score, will still be Negative. Oh, but you can now see all reviews on default! So, that’s good right? Right? Somehow, I doubt anyone would agree with me.

One such indie developer has been feeling the adverse effects from these changes.


Astral Terra: Adventures on the Planes developer Tethys Interactive has been negatively impacted by these changes in the review system. Dawn recently spoke to one of the devs and they were kind enough to show us in number just how badly these changes have const them.

Astral Terra’s losses

The numbers across the board have fallen considerably. With a lot of folks removing the game from their Wishlist as noted with a negative number of 22.

This is a good idea and this is already sort of in place except it up to the devs when you request the keys & how you classify them(they have categories for all major platforms you may sell your key through IE: Green Man Gaming, Playfield, Kickstarter) & since this recent change is to crack down on devs, they don’t trust those selling on their own platform. We feel the problem is mostly tied to the review system(and how Valve feel its being taken advantage of). – Tethys Interactive

Currently, the game stands at a Mostly Negative score with over 71 of the reviews being from key activation to the measly 34 Steam purchases where the negative reviews stem.

The final change Steam touched on was the color of the Mixed review text and it being inconsistent… Yea, was that that huge a problem, Steam?

Some developers have pointed out that we’ve been inconsistent in use of color for the review score of “Mixed.” We’ve adjusted the color of the “Mixed” text to match the icons we’ve already been using in search results. It’s kind of a yellow/tan color now.
-Steam Announcement

Really, Steam?

So, only time will tell if this will help or hinder indie developers, who seem to be taking these hits the hardest. At the end of the announcement, yet again, Steam welcomes ‘feedback’ with no feedback option, no email, no real way to contact them with.

Perhaps they’re listening and reading and are noting the grievances raised by the one thing currently keeping their Bottom Line afloat: The People.

As always, stay in the know, gamers,



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