It seems bizarre that Valve would help Epic Games by stifling the anger of the community from using the only tool they have at their disposal to make the message loud and clear that they despise the current exclusivity poaching taking place with the Epic Games Store, yet here we are. Valve has followed through with their intentions to suppress review bombing on the Steam store by hiding the negative reviews for the Borderlands games, which were done in mass as a show of protest to Borderlands 3 being poached as a timed exclusive on the Epic Games Store.
Every Borderlands game has been affected on Steam, ranging from the original game, to the Game of the Year Edition, to Borderlands 2, The Pre-Sequel, and even Telltale’s Tales From The Borderlands.
However, if you visit the store pages for any of the games, you’ll note that the overall review aggregate still maintains whatever the score was before the review bombing commenced. So in the case of Borderlands Game of the Year Edition, it still shows that the overall reviews are “Very Positive”.
This fits in line with Valve’s abeyance of user review scores counting toward the aggregate as part of their mitigation of review bombing, which excises both positive and negative review scores during a “bombing” period. They implemented this feature back in the middle of March, 2019. It was in response to Social Justice Warriors in the media attacking Valve for not censoring consumers and pressure from publishers wanting to silence dissent from angry customers. So Valve implemented the feature for what they considered to be off-topic review bombs, such as game-breaking DRM, curtailing mod support, or anti-consumer practices being employed by the developer or publisher.
Anti-gaming journalists, activists, and Social Justice Warriors praised Valve for silencing consumer dissent, but ironically a former developer at Valve, Chet Faliszek, actually came out in support of gamers.
Counterpoint: Review bombing is making it clearer and clearer that players have no effective means of communication with developers where they feel their voices will be heard so they use the one avenue available to them.
We can throw out reviews or we can fix communication. https://t.co/y8IdydAyOl
— Chet Faliszek (@chetfaliszek) April 3, 2019
There was obvious push back from those who dislike gamers, gaming culture, and consumer rights; people who feel as if plebeians should be given no right of communication, and no conduit in which to express their displeasure with the status quo.
Now the upside to this is that at least there is the option to disable the review bombing censorship. An asterisk will appear next to the review scores, indicating that anomalous activity is occurring, and you’ll have the option to either leave it be or click on the asterisk, go to your user preferences, and disable the review bombing censorship. This will change the overall score to reflect what it really is rather than what Valve (or the publishers) would try to portray it as before the review bombing occurred:
Since the review bombing censorship is turned on by default, most people will never know that a game is being review bombed. This is a real shame because instead of getting people to investigate why the score is so negative all of a sudden, they’ll just assume that everything is fine.
In this particular case, Valve is shooting themselves in the foot because instead of the casual consumer seeing the review bombs and finding out that the upcoming Borderlands 3 is an Epic Games Store timed exclusive, they’ll just assume that the game is coming to Steam along with the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game. So now not only will Valve miss out on six months of sales to the Epic Games Store, but they’re also silencing their own community from making other people aware of market disadvantage.
It takes a certain level of ineptitude to design a system to debilitate your own community while at the same time giving your competition a leg up, but Valve managed to do it in spades with this move.
(Thanks for the news tips s_fnx, Ebicentre and LupinIII)