The folks over at Valve have been trying to improve Steam review scores for a while now. Back in September, the company added a number of additional filtering options that allow users to better figure out if a certain game was truly well received by the rest of the community. While those options are certainly useful, it looks like the company wasn’t entirely happy with how things turned out. As a result, Valve have announced a new update that introduces additional changes to how Steam review scores will be calculated from now on. You can read the full announcement on the official website but basically, the big headline here is that overall scores will no longer include reviews by users who received their copy of the game for free.
Regardless of whether you got a review copy straight from the developer or received the game as a gift, it looks like your opinions no longer matter if you didn’t pay for the game. The changes to the Steam review scores also apply to games that you play during a free weekend. To be clear, that’s not to say that you can’t write a review anymore. You most certainly still can. However, your review will not count towards the overall score from now on if you received the game for free. On the bright side, free-to-play games are not affected by these changes, so all reviews still count when in comes to titles like Dota 2 or Team Fortress 2.
While understandable, Valve’s decision to once again change how Steam review scores work wasn’t exactly well received by a large portion of the community. The changes are obviously meant to dissuade developers from reviewing their own games or paying others to do so. But as many gamers have already pointed out, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to exclude reviews from people who received their game as a gift from a friend. Supposedly, the developer can send a reviewer a copy of the game as a gift instead of an activation key, however, that’s usually not how it works. Instead, developers almost always give out review keys while gifts are generally sent between friends. Needless to say, a lot of people who received their game as a gift will be less inclined to write reviews now, which is likely to cause even more backlash in the long run.
According to Valve, the changes have already started rolling out earlier this week but it may take a few more days before the scores for all games can be re-calculated. In the meantime, you may see review scores for certain games change several times as the system continues to update.
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