Reviews are meant to be an accurate reflection of the quality of a product or service, but they seem to have morphed over the last few years, thanks in no small part to the nature of the internet becoming more antagonistic. Now, reviews are as much a reflection of the quality of a product or service as they are a tool for targeted protest over the policies and politics of a particular company. Don’t like the decision are particular company makes? Leave them a negative review to express your displeasure. And that is exactly what gamers do in response to many
And it’s not just punitive for bad actors in the games industry either. A certain subset of gamers review-bombed Harebrained Schemes’ BattleTech over the inclusion of a character customization for gender pronouns. So it cuts both ways, and can clearly be used to attack certain products or services over what would normally be a good decision.
Now, reflections over the current highly polarizing state of games aside, it is very clear that something needs to change. But it’s going to take time for that to happen, and in the meantime, gamers will continue to drop review bombs on many games. And in this particular case, angry gaming fans took to Steam to attack Borderlands titles over the announcement that Borderlands 3 would have 6 months of exclusivity on the Epic Games Store.
Gearbox developer Scott Velasquez retweeted a post showing the sudden spike of negative reviews on the first two Borderlands games, saying “Not cool at all to misuse a system like this, and shame on @steam_games for allowing it.”
And it seems as though this particular review bomb has the opposite intended effect, as Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford critiqued on Twitter:
What this means is that Steam had better step up their content and platform moderation if they hope to maintain market dominance. And step up they have, as the company, seemingly in response to Borderlands 3 backlash, has pushed out a new update that removes “off-topic” reviews from a game’s store page. This has had an immediate effect for many review bombs, as those negative reviews are no longer counted against the game being targeted. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s certainly not enough.
With the glut of low-quality and offensive games on Steam, it’s very likely that the appeal of the Epic Games Store is going to increase for publishers eager to escape the mess. And of course, the truckloads of money Epic Games is throwing around don’t hurt either. And even though some gamers hate the idea of exclusivity, it’s not going anywhere. So the only recourse that remains is to make it incredibly clear to publishers and developers what your feelings are on the issues in a constructive way, as the negative approach clearly isn’t working.
What’s your opinion on Epic Games and their exclusivity deals? Are you excited for Borderlands 3? Let us know in the comments.