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Valve Slowly But Surely Making Steam User Reviews Useful

Art imitates life

With Steam becoming more of an “open” platform by the day, Valve needs to oil the joints of its creaking machine in every conceivable way, lest it scream and screech to a halt under the weight of progress. Its latest baby step? Improving Steam user reviews, which can be surprisingly non-horrible occasionally (the “most helpful” tab definitely, er, helps), but they’re still a very imperfect science.

Steam now indicates if user reviews come from an Early Access version of a game. It’s a small thing, but it gives the system significantly more clarity in light of the fact that the “complete” version of a game often differs tremendously from a wibbly, wobbly alpha.

It still doesn’t account for the fact that the Steam hivemind is quite hostile to a game, like, say Gone Home – where even the most “helpful” reviews are incredibly skewed – but that’s kind of what happens when only a certain segment of your community is especially vocal. It’ll be interesting to see how (or if) Valve accounts for factors like this while increasingly depending on the Will Of The People.

One step at a time, though. That’s always been Valve’s way. I just hope they take their biggest steps in the right places. I mean, the Steam store is pretty much steaming garbage at this point (at least, from an organizational standpoint), and that only stands to get worse as Valve opens it up and lets developers have their own storefronts, put any game on the store, etc. The front page needs an overhaul, as do many other aspects of Steam. Valve is quietly tinkering away – tightening single screws as it sees fit – but here’s hoping a full overhaul is coming. It’s long overdue.

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Nathan Grayson

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