User reviews are coming to the Epic Games Store but, in an epic twist, they’re going to be opt-in only for publishers.
By default, all games on the Epic Store won’t have the functionality for user reviews but if publishers are happy to, they can toggle them on and let their users run riot.
The news emerged via Epic founder, CEO and extremely rich man, Tim Sweeney, who replied to a fan concerned member of the community who said “Why are you guys trying to silence consumers? You put out a Epic store that offers no consumer feedback. No reviews, no rating, no forums. This sends a message that publishers matter more and customers are better shutting tf up and handing you money only.”
Sweeney explained Epic is “working on a review system for the Epic Games store based on the existing one in the Unreal Engine marketplace. It will be opt-in by developers. We think this is best because review bombing and other gaming-the-system is a real problem.”
It doesn't take a great deal of thought to figure out the holes in such a system and just how it can be played by publishers and developers. Bad game? Don’t enable user reviews. Potentially controversial decision being made? Don’t enable user reviews. Not enabling user reviews has the potential to be a double-edged sword though. Any game without user reviews is immediately going to be met with suspicion.
At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to the implementation of the review system. If developers have the ability to opt-in and opt-out at will, for example, any developers with bad reviews could opt-out and cleanse the feedback. There is no use to a situation in which only positive user feedback is displayed. Likewise, when a review bomb situation occurs, developers could temporarily turn off reviews and prevent their scores dipping. Whatever the rights and wrongs of review bombing (and sometimes it’s the actions of bizarre manbabies complaining about absurd things), sometimes they are a legitimate method of expressing displeasure at a developer’s decisions.
On the subject of review bombs, both Metro 2033 Redux and Metro: Last Light are on the end of some serious review bombings after it was announced Metro Exodus will be exclusive to the Epic Games Store for one year. They now have “Mostly Negative” recent reviews on Steam despite being beloved games. These aren’t reviews of the games themselves but of a publisher decision, years after the fact, and arguably shouldn’t be affecting review scores. If you want an example of why Epic wants reviews to be opt-in, that sort of behaviour is exactly why.
What we appear to be ending up with because of this is a lose/lose situation for users on the Epic Store.
What are your thoughts on the thorny topic of user reviews? Should developers have more control or is it a system that should be as open as possible? Let us know your thoughts below!