Valve Turns On Steam Reviews
Valve opened the beta knob to their crowd-sourced review system today.
At first blush, Steam Reviews may seem like a Metacritic derivative (one that's a little late to the party), but there are some very big differences that should make this customer review system stand above the rest.
As everyone knows, Metacritic lets anyone write a review regardless of whether or not they actually own the game. Someone may have only spent an hour in Skyrim and thought it was the worst game ever made. There's a lot of wiggle room for unnecessary bashing or over indulgent praise because you have no idea who is leaving those public reviews or if they actually played the game.
No discrepancy between these reviews. Move along...
Let's be honest about "professional" reviews... not every game is played all the way through before a judgement is delivered. There are deadlines that need to be met after all. What? #industrysecrets
Steam Reviews is different in that it will only let you write a review for a game you've launched through Steam. So if it's not listed in your library... no review for you!
Perhaps the biggest thing that will help ferret out fraudulent write ups is the addition of one very simple measurement: the amount of time someone has spent in the game will automatically be displayed in parentheses next to a review. Granted, this can be inflated by logging in and going AFK for hours on end, but you can easily tell by reading the details if someone really spent 80 hours in a game... or eight.
All of these nifty features should help reduce (not eliminate, mind you) the propensity for fanboyz to write hyperbolic positive or negative reviews based on their emotional stance, and not one filled with logic and facts.
Steam users will be able to rate others' reviews. If you agree with a review, let others know (this is a lot like Amazon's customer review system). If not, you can "down-vote" the unhelpful review and even report it as a spam. Facebook needs to implement this feature... like, yesterday.
The one thing it doesn't do (yet) is aggregate scores like Metacritic. Valve stated that they are looking to add that as they gather and evaluate the data during beta.
As a big user of Steam I look forward to seeing how this new review system evolves and impacts the industry.