Last week we made some changes to the Steam user review system, which you can read about here. In the week since, we've been reading a lot of feedback from customers and game developers to see what's working and what's not. Based on this feedback, we’re making a couple of tweaks to the review system today and are working on some longer-term updates. Here are the changes made as well as some information on the changes we're still working on.
One frequent piece of feedback we’ve heard regarding the recent changes is that it has become more difficult to find and read the helpful, articulate reviews written by customers that obtained the game outside of 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.
Regardless of the default, you may prefer to see only reviews by Steam customers. So we’ve also made it so that Steam will remember the last 'purchase type' you selected to view in the review section. As you move between game pages, Steam will remember your preference and display only those reviews.
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.
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.
There was some confusion in how reviews were sorted when viewing all reviews written by a particular user. It was previously sorted by 'helpful' rating of reviews by that user, which was often just a factor of the size of audience for each game reviewed. This meant that reviews on bigger games almost always were listed first in those views because there were simply more users clicking 'helpful' on reviews. This display is now sorted chronologically, so you can see what a particular user has reviewed most recently.
Work in progress:
As we mentioned in our previous announcement, we’ve been working on some changes to the ranking of ‘helpful’ reviews that appear for each product. The goal is to be able to better identify and highlight helpful reviews while hiding or lowering the prominence of unhelpful reviews. Our existing system just looks at the overall number of users that rated a review as 'helpful', but we're seeing this can produce unpredictable results. For example, sometimes unhelpful memes get rated as ‘helpful’ because people think it’s funny. So we're working on updating the system to consider more factors when deciding how to rank 'helpful' reviews so that it can generate better results. We plan on rolling out a beta soon, which you’ll be able to opt into so you can compare the sorting of helpful reviews before and after the change.