While Valve has continually been making tweaks to Steam’s review system to give consumers the best idea of the quality of a game before they consider buying, this newest change will attempt to put a stop to those who are trying to game the review system. While all reviews previously factored into the game’s overall score on the service, reviews that are written through the activation of a product key will no longer factor into the score.
This has to do with developers using “deceptive tactics to generate a more positive review score,” as they have been caught simply using product keys in order to post a positive review for their games. Valve said that “games across Steam shows that at least 160 titles have a substantially greater percentage of positive reviews by users that activated the product with a cd key, compared to customers that purchased the game directly on Steam. There are, of course, legitimate reasons why this could be true for a game: Some games have strong audiences off Steam, and some games have passionate early adopters or Kickstarter backers that are much more invested in the game.”
They go on to say that “in many cases, the abuse is clear and obvious, such as duplicated and/or generated reviews in large batches, or reviews from accounts linked to the developer. In those cases, we’ve now taken action by banning the false reviews and will be ending business relationships with developers that continue violating our rules.”
This decision has drawn some backlash from users and game developers alike, as it means that honest reviews from people with well-informed opinions will no longer factor into the Steam score simply because of their purchase method.