Valve have announced that their new User Review feature on Steam has entered beta as of today.
Steam has always had the ‘Recommendation’ system where players can choose the option of recommending their favourite games to their friends, but that’s as far as opinions could be taken until now. The new review feature will allow users to post reviews and comments about any game and even mark their posts as public to allow all other users to see them. This will work alongside the current system, meaning that users will still be able to recommend their games, though no numbered rating system will be used. All current recommendations will be kept and upgraded to the new review system.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the new feature is that, although developers will be able to view all reviews and comments, they will not be able to remove or delete them. This of course opens up the possibilities for spam and abuse but Valve have stated that they will moderate the posts and anyone can flag inappropriate items for Valve to review. Used correctly however, the new feature can allow developers to check out the feedback from players and see how well their games are received, without having to rely soley on the basic metacritic scores (which will remain alongside the new reviews). Players will also be able to check out other people’s thoughts in more depth before making a purchase without having to trawl through forums. The feature also works to keep the most recent reviews at the top to make sure that, even as a new game changes over time, the most relevant reviews will always be at the forefront.
The feature has great potential for both developers and players alike and, providing Valve keep the posts in check, it will be interesting to see how this new system evolves.
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