One game saw its user review score change from a very decent 88 to a far less inspiring 14 following Valve's changes to the user review system on Steam yesterday.
The new rules mean that customers who have obtained a game by redeeming a key as opposed to buying directly through Steam will no longer be able to attribute a score to their reviews. The move is designed to quash the danger of developers artificially inflating their review scores by handing out keys to players who in turn leave a favourable rating.
However, the decision could potentially impact smaller devs who rely more heavily on direct sales, and especially those who have crowdfunded their titles, not least because review scores now occupy such a prominent place in the Steam storefront design.
SteamSpy data has revealed the 427 games that saw the biggest changes in their review score as a result of the changes.
At the top of the list is Simple Ball: Extended Edition, whose score plummeted by 74 points after the changes. 27 games saw their review scores drop by over 40 per cent. However, around a quarter of the games detailed actually saw their review scores increase as a result of the changes.
It's safe to say, however, the reaction from developers has seemed fairly negative. Developers of Kickstarted games, in particular, are feeling the sting, as backers – who receive keys – can now no longer leave review scores.
Simon Roth, who is the maker of colony game Maia, even predicted that the change could leave him out of business. He has now turned to Patreon as a possible alternative funding method.
That's me probably going out of business then. My crowdfunders and direct sales were how I hoped to improve my score pic.twitter.com/pvxXGQhweL— Simon Roth (@SimoRoth) September 13, 2016
And once you get below "Positive" sales die pretty fast. So you can't get new reviews to get a better score.— Simon Roth (@SimoRoth) September 13, 2016
Maia's review score just dropped to 45%. Which means we are now unlikely to sell another copy. Time for me to give up probably.— Simon Roth (@SimoRoth) September 13, 2016
Between direct sales, Kickstarter, indiegogo I have 16000+ users who will never be able to leave me a review that matters to the score.— Simon Roth (@SimoRoth) September 13, 2016