In brief: Valve first tried to implement measures to combat review bombing in 2017 but a new announcement from the company admits that there's room for improvement. Valve have said they are now rolling out a new feature to remove "off-topic" reviews from their overall ratings calculations.
According to the post, the "off-topic" criteria refers to reviews "where the focus of those reviews is on a topic that we consider unrelated to the likelihood that future purchasers will be happy if they buy the game". The process for doing so will begin with a new, automated tool that will identify "anomalous review activity" on all Steam games, in as close to real-time as possible.
It's clear that Valve understands that people don't want to just be silenced or have negative posts censored, so the reviews themselves aren't being removed.More news: Williams is hampered by a "fundamental" problem with design according to Russell
In an effort to squash review bombing on Steam, "off-topic" reviews will no longer count toward the overall game score. At this point, however, the user reviews will still be live. It will be up to the developer's discretion over which are deleted. As the review bomb filtering system just excludes a certain cluster of reviews from counting towards the overall score, this will also filter out any legitimate reviews during that period, but at least it will be across a period decided by real flesh-and-blood humans.
"Once our team has identified that the anomalous activity is an off-topic review bomb, we'll mark the time period it encompasses and notify the developer", Valve wrote.
While it's not now clear how effective Valve will be in identifying off-topic reviews (or whether it will help in solving the issue), this is good news for developers who may have been anxious about their own titles.More news: Italian police confirm stolen masterpiece was fake
Developers have cited this sort of toxicity as a reason they're excited about the Epic Games Store, which plans to address the issue with an opt-in review system. Valve is working on a few more changes to user reviews as well, but they'll be shipped out at a later date. It only takes a minute to dig into those reviews to see if the issue is something you care about.
Despite the simplicity of the proposition, Valve's blog post goes into some depth about what they consider off-topic, and the potential flaws of the new system. Reviews are an important part of Steam, which is why we continue to do the work to make sure that they are not being manipulated by anyone, " the Q&A concludes. One such flaw is that any genuine reviews posted during what Valve deems to be a "review bomb" will be filtered out alongside the off-topic posts.More news: UK PM Could's Brexit deal has reached the top of the street