Steam has announced their take on the recent positive reviews that have poured in for Assassin’s Creed Unity in what might be the world’s first “positive” review bomb.
Last month, Valve revealed their new policy to combat Steam review bombing. They defined review bombs as negative user reviews due to unrelated topics, such as a scandal at a specific developer. Algorithms would identify when the review bomb occurred, flag those reviews, and remove them from a game’s overall review score.
In 99.9% of cases, review bombs are done to negatively affect a certain game’s score as a form of protest. But then the Notre Dame fire happened and Ubisoft let everyone download and play Assassin’s Creed Unity for free just so they could see a virtual representation of the Notre Dame Cathedral.
That had a few effects. First, it caused a big spike in players for Unity, not just on UPlay, but also on Steam. Second, Steam users started leaving glowing reviews for Unity in what is quite possibly the world’s first “positive” review bomb.
This posed a problem for Valve. Technically, Assassin’s Creed Unity is getting positive reviews that are at least partially unrelated to the game. Making things more complicated is that while many reviews were left by non-players, there were just as many positive reviews left by people who actually were playing the game.
The situation with Unity was entirely different from how normal review bombs work, which see tons of negative reviews from non-players. An outpouring of positivity on this scale is still enough to raise Unity’s overall review score, but it “doesn't actually seem to be a review bomb in the way we've previously defined them,” as Steam writes in their most recent blog update.
“But even if we define it as one, we're not sure whether it should be off-topic or not. The overall Review Score would decrease by 1.3% if we marked it, which wouldn't have any significant effect on its visibility in the store. So either way, the game itself wouldn't be affected by our decision.
"As a result, we've decided we're just going to leave it alone."
We suspect with positive review bombs being far rarer than negative review bombs, Valve will simply take each one on a case-by-case basis. That said, this does seem like tacit approval from Valve for game publishers and developers to do more good in the world. Maybe it’ll get their games positively bombed.