Borderlands reviews the bomb that triggers the "off-topic" fix of Steam [Updated]



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[[[[Update 10:30 pm: In a statement sent to Ars Technica now, Doug Lombardi, of Valve, says that "after a review of the current activity of Borderlands titles, the decision was made to mark the franchise for off-topic comments on Steam with immediate effect. As a result, user reviews submitted while titles are flagged do not count toward game review scores. User ratings written during the marked period will still be accessible and users will be able to choose to include these reviews in the review score by changing their preferences. "

Steam Reviews for Borderlands Franchise games since April 2 are now shown in a histogram view with a large asterisk and the warning "Review activity period (s) off-topic detected. Excluded from review score (by default)." Summaries of "Recent Reviews" for these games have also changed from "Mixed" to "Very" or "Mainly Positive" as a result of the play.]

Original Story (12:21 pm)

Last month, Valve announced a new policy aimed at containing the problem of "off-topic review bombs" on Steam, where a horde of players post negative reviews of a game for reasons other than the actual content of the game. This month, this policy so far has not fixed some clear off-topic review bombs on the Gearbox Borderlands games.

In the six months prior to March 31, Borders 2 received a total of 412 negative comments on Steam – an insignificant 4.5% of all reviews posted in that period. In the few days since April 1st, in contrast, the game received a flood of 2,156 negative ratings, or nearly 62% of revisions during that period. You may see similar recent revision standards on the Steam pages for the original Borderlands, The pre-sequeland several serial DLC packages as well.

Immerse yourself in the text of these recent negative reviews and you will find virtually no one criticizing the games themselves. Instead, you'll find hundreds of people expressing their displeasure with the recently announced decision of Gearbox to launch the next Borderlands 3 exclusively at the Epic Games Store for a period of six months.

A feature reviewer with more than 300 hours spent on Borders 2 writes that the game is "one of the few looser shooters that really keeps me involved." But the reviewer, then, justifies his "negative evaluation"[because of] Epic Games Exclusivity[for

for[para[forBorderlands 3]Please do not play in the Epic game. "Many other reviews use copied ASCII double-sided ASCII art to express their general dislike for the decision of Epic and Gearbox.

This seems to be a textbook case of the kind of off-topic review bombing that Valve is trying to counter. The company defined this type of revision pump in 2017 as "a problem[s] the players are worried about … out of the game itself. "Valve reaffirmed this definition in March as a situation" where players post a large number of assessments in a short period of time, aiming to reduce the review score of a game [and] where the focus of these reviews is on a topic we consider unrelated to the likelihood that future buyers will be happy if they buy the game. "

This is not the first time Steam users have looked at companies that are migrating to Epic's uniqueness. Games at 4A Games & # 39; Subway series faced similar off-topic review bombs in the months after the sequel Exodus of the Subway migrated from Steam. Many other Steam titles have faced revision bombs for issues entirely unrelated to the game's own content. But the bombs reviewing these games precede the valve's announcement of a possible solution to the problem on March 15, making Borderlands first real test of the new system.

We are waiting

Valve says it has an automated tool that "identifies any anomalous review activity on all Steam games as close to real-time as possible." But the final decision to remove these potential bombs from the aggregate review is "a team of Valve people" who investigate the anomalies identified by the machine.

If a revision pump is manually identified by Valve, the developer is notified and "revisions within that time period will be removed from the calculation of the Review Score," Valve wrote last month. Although such revisions continue to exist and are visible, they will no longer be included in the first-line aggregate summaries (ie "mostly positive").

As of this writing, the apparent Borderlands A revision bombing has been taking place for more than 48 hours in a distinct pattern that should have been readily identifiable. So far, however, there has been no apparent action by Valve. If there is pending action on the works, Valve could not identify it in response to several unanswered requests for comment from Ars Technica.

(It is also possible that Valve does not see comments focused on Borderlands 3changes to the Epic Games Store as "off topic" for the previous Borderlands games on Steam. But that would raise other issues.)

In the grand scheme of things, this is not a big problem for Gearbox (which sold more than 41 million copies of Borders 2 alone) or Steam users. Yes, the prominent "Recent Comments" metrics for Borderlands The games on Steam have been switched from "Very" or "Mostly Positive" to "Mixed" or worse, due to these revision bombs. But these anomalies are still only a drop in the balance compared to the tens of thousands of positive assessments that the games have received over the years, as listed in their "All Reviews" summaries.

That will almost certainly end up being the sort of "temporary distortion of the Review Score" that Valve announced in 2017, forgotten by all but obsessive fans. That said, this is also the kind of temporary problem that Valve said is now equipped to quickly identify and combat a combination of new policies and tools. BorderlandsSteam situation is the first high-profile test of this new system and, just over two days, is a test that the valve is failing.

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