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Valve changes Steam user ratings system for the second time in six months

Why it matters to you

Steam user ratings will hopefully be a little more trustworthy as a result of the changes Valve is making.

Steam is the go-to service for PC gamers looking to expand their library, and its review system helps many users decide which games are worthy of a purchase. Now, Valve is tweaking the way ratings work in an attempt to decrease the influence of individuals who received the games they’re reviewing for free.

Reviews from users who didn’t pay for the game in question will no longer contribute to its user score, according to a report from Polygon. This doesn’t apply to games that are free or free-to-play.

However, if you played a game during the free weekend promotions that various publishers often run on Steam, your review won’t contribute to that title’s user score. Likewise, if you received the game as a gift, you won’t be able to have an impact on its user rating.

Valve took similar steps to improve the review system in September 2016, when it was decided that only users who bought a copy of a game via Steam could contribute to its user score. This was done to ensure that the score couldn’t be inflated by users who were given a free key to the game by a developer.

There are well over 10,000 titles available on Steam, so it makes sense that Valve would want to give users the best possible rating system to differentiate the good from the bad. The latest change, like the tweaks made last September, seems to be a step in the right direction.

It would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to create a ratings system that accurately reflects a consensus of opinion between the 125 million people who own a Steam account. However, reviews submitted by people who spent cold hard cash on a game are likely to have more merit than those submitted by users who only played for a weekend, and didn’t part with any money.