Stop Writing Negative Reviews for Games You Enjoy

Stop leaving negative reviews for games in an attempt to police review scores or ‘warn off’ other players. It is not your job, and it affects developers’ livelihoods.

These things matter. Last week, a tweet from the account for indie game Cryptmaster popped up on my For You feed, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

One of the developers, Paul Hart, shared a screenshot of a negative Steam review that was filled with glowing praise, but had a note appended to the end that said that the negative review was so “whiners and haters know what they are getting into”, and because a single negative review “won’t change the ranking of the game”. In the tweet, Hart said that the review did indeed drop the game’s Steam rating.

In fact, it dropped so much that it almost fell from Overwhelmingly Positive into Very Positive. While the game has since risen back to 97 percent, safely within Overwhelmingly Positive, I can’t stop thinking about why someone would do this.

While I think review bombing is too often used by people of certain political leanings to protest ‘wokeness’, it still has value as a tool that allows audiences to express their feelings about policies or practices that take advantage of them. If you don’t like being faced with extractive monetisation in every game you play, you should make that known, and reviews are an appropriate place to do that since monetisation and the like are built-in features that do affect the experience of playing a game.

I’m not saying that indie games shouldn’t get negative reviews – if you think a game is bad, that’s your business. Speak your truth, babe.

But while a handful of bad reviews might not affect a triple-A game that much because there are enough reviews to dilute their effects, indie games have much smaller player bases and far fewer reviews. A negative review matters.

You could be directly impacting the livelihood of a developer who made a game you love. A single review can change things.

Players Are Not The Review Police

I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews left on Steam games as jokes, or to ‘balance the scales’ closer to a Metacritic or OpenCritic score, or in this specific case, to ‘warn’ other players. I’m dangerously close to sounding like I’m gatekeeping here, but this is not what reviews are for, and the impact a review could have should be taken way more seriously than it is right now.

I don’t usually read Steam reviews, not because player-written reviews have less value than critical reviews from professional reviewers, but because they are often plagued with people trying to manipulate a game’s score for no good reason. The percentage on the store page is already an aggregate that balances itself, and if people always reviewed games in good faith, it would represent a fair review score for that platform and that audience.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. So often, games that people actually love aren’t given their flowers because of people who already like the game trying to tweak the score to what they think it should be, which is ridiculous.

All this to say: stop policing review scores. It’s not your job, and you’re meddling with the financial security of developers because you’re bored.

Things are bad enough in the industry as it is – don’t make it harder for the people who make the games you love.

Author: admin

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