Friday, September 16, 2016

New Steam Review Policy Affecting Indie Developers

Steam's game review policy is changing. Announcing the new rules earlier this week, a number of developers from crowdfunding projects, as well as Steam staples are showing some concern.

There are new filtering options which allow people to sort reviews by language, review type, and purchase source - a long needed feature on Steam. But the important thing to focus on is that the review scores are going to change. Developers who give out free Steam keys in exchange for a review will not longer have that review score counted (positive or negative). This also means that if you gift someone with a Steam key, their review won't apply to the score either. Which also means if you buy a Humble Bundle with a Steam key, that review won't count! Basically, if you yourself did not buy the game directly on steam with your own money, your review will not apply to the game's review score.

In Steam's defense, this system was created to help curb fake reviews. People being given a free game to post a positive response is unfair to consumers. So, I get it. I really do, Steam. Having said that, it's also going to screw over developers under Steam's Greenlight and any crowdfunding projects since now they can't have any review scores count. Reviews from backers are no longer contributing to the games. They are now hidden under a new filter. And not making those reviews available at first glance it could affect future sales and performance of indie games. Rock Paper Shotgun spoke with a few developers about their concerns. While some understand Steam's need to have a transparent, less abusive review systems, others feel it's targeting too many legitimate reviews. Backers and Humble Bundle supporters have earned the right to review games as well. Steam is going to have to find a way to address the concerns.

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