Valve is increasingly evolving its Steam platform, attempting to prioritise quality and stomp out ‘fake games’ and reviews. The company has already put new restrictions in place to prevent asset flippers from making a quick buck, and those that do get past these security measures will have a hard time artificially boosting reviews to get more sales.
Legitimate developers have been concerned about Steam reviews for quite some time, worried that underhanded competitors could drown out their hard work by buying multiple accounts and systematically driving up a false positive response to a sub-par title. Positech Games’ Cliff Harris is the latest troubled developer to speak up about the matter, generally dubbing all online review systems as “fundamentally broken.
“If I bought 500 copies (illegally) through shills and left positive reviews it would cost me $3,000 to massively swing the review score higher,” reads the tweet. “I would never do this, but I'm not sure everyone is as honest. In all products/stores (not just steam), review scores cannot be taken seriously without some heavy duty verification they are not shills.”
While there are many out there that can be manipulated and swayed, Steam Business team member Tom Giardino reassures Harris and other developers that Steam runs a tight ship and that review manipulation is “really easy to spot.”
of course Cliffski isn't really going to do this, but:
>We ban games and partners all the time for this.
>It's really easy for us to see it when you do, even if you do it slowly
>User reviews don't broadly correlate to sales or visibility the way developers assume they do
— Tom Giardino (@tomgvalve) June 14, 2018
Within Harris’ example, those illegitimate developers would have to buy a significant number of copies of the game within a short space of time, making patterns easier to spot. Even when the manipulation is done slowly and assuming Valve doesn’t pick up on the patterns, which it often does, this isn’t effective at boosting sales.
Valve has already proven its worth with a number of developers that have been removed from Steam after it’s come to light of review manipulation, with Acram Digital and Insel Games being two of the latest.
KitGuru Says: When it comes to consuming reviews, prospective buyers have to be careful where they get their information from. In a world full of paid reviews and boosting, this can be increasingly tough but it’s always best to stick to a handful of trusted sources once you find them. Do you have a go-to video game reviewer that you use?