Up For Debate - Do You Support Review Bombing Games?

Written by Jon Sutton on Sat, Feb 9, 2019 4:29 PM
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Review bombing isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. Give customers the power to collectively target a product and sure enough,  they’ll do it if they aren’t happy. But review bombing games has started to become a much more common occurrence. It really traces its roots back to Mass Effect 3, a game which was review bombed due to players being unhappy about its ending. I still rate BioWare’s reaction to this as one of the worst moves in terms of the health of gaming, particularly in the long term. Changing the ending because of the reaction was the unofficial handing over of the baton and marked a big change in consumer entitlement.

I’m a big believer that creators should be free to create. Freedom to create whatever they want and then to be judged at the end of it. In that moment when BioWare agreed to change the ending, it was a step away from creative freedom and toward audience pandering. BioWare couldn’t possibly have been aware of the significance at the time but in changing their own game it comes dangerously close to fan fiction bullshit rather than the original vision.

But a lot’s changed then, and since then we’ve had notable review bombs for the likes of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Crusader Kings II, Firewatch, Total War: Rome II, Football Manager 2018, the Metro series, and plenty more. The reasons are many and varied, from Crusader Kings II’s price being increased to match exchange rates; Football Manager 2018 not having Chinese language options, or PewDiePie fans angry his video of Firewatch was DMCA’d after the dev team said they didn’t want to support a creator who used racial slurs.

Review bombs are a method for consumers to exert their power in one of the few ways they are not powerless. A customer’s greatest power is their monetary value. Buying a game and giving it a positive review are two of the best things the average gamer can do to help a game, and the opposite applies if they want to damage a game.

In the case of review bombs, most fans have long since bought the game and it supported it with cash. Aside from messaging the devs or posting on the forums, the only real way they can get their voices heard is by posting a negative review.

But, I guess the real question is what constitutes a valid review bomb, or even a negative review. If someone plays a game, loves it, gives it a good review, and then gets frustrated by something a developer has done with a later game, does it really justify going back and giving a game they originally thought was great, a negative review? I think not.

However, if the review is genuinely for an issue with the actual game that’s being reviewed, it’s definitely a method that can potentially enact change. It’s an aggressive method of getting your point across and often extremely unhelpful for the developer’s long-term success, but if you’re being ignored and it truly matters to you, then it seems a valid response. 

But in the instance of the Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light review bombs last week, this is a textbook example of the community cutting its nose off to spite its face. It’s petulant behaviour. Anyone with a modicum of sense can realise it probably won’t help the next Metro’s chances of coming to Steam. As if thousands of angry ‘fans’ destroying 4A’s reputation on the Steam store is a great advert for 4A Games, and Deep Silver, to head back to Valve’s storefront and welcome its utterly delightful, angry fanbase back with open arms. Reviews surely have to be of the game itself. Posting fake reviews is vindictive and unethical.

For their part, Valve has taken steps to try and mitigate the effect of review bombing. They now weight reviews and track spikes, allowing users to filter out what the system deems as erroneous results. It’s not perfect, and by default, the overall score includes review bombs, but it’s a decent compromise.

So like a lot of you probably are, I’m quite torn on this one. Review bombs have been used in a ton of negative ways but they’re also a working method of highlighting developer mistakes and even helping them fix their problems.

Enough of my thoughts then, let’s hear yours. Do you support review bombing? Have you ever participated in a review bombing? When do you think it’s a valid thing to do? Get voting and let us know your thoughts below!

Do you support review bombing games?

Have you ever joined in on a review bomb?

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03:15 Feb-18-2019

Based on the results of the poles, I think that most people don't review bomb. I think that most reviews come from true opinions, and most of the time when a game is review bombed it's actually because the game was bad. Look at NBA 2k19, review bombed, but it deserved it (cash grab).

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12:24 Feb-11-2019

As long as companies continue being scum, I will support review bombing.


The Metro games review bombing was great. The pub ****ed over customers, and people responded on a platform where they had a voice.


Seems pretty fair to me. If you don't support review bombing, you're just another kiss-ass supporting corporations. And let's be real here, they have the power to support themselves.

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13:36 Feb-10-2019

Not always fair but in an industry that does whatever it can to silence the customers, useful. The Valve's and Bethesda's greedy tactic to monetize mods was repelled by the review bombing power, as was T2's plan to make GTA V singplayer mods illegal, and I could go on.

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08:52 Feb-10-2019

The article does not fully explain what review bombing is ... if it is intentionally leaving a negative review to protest something (ie. microtransaction, socialist / feminist propaganda, transgender bs, bad company behavior) I WILL DO THAT, the people have the power to protest and they should use it. Reviews are a good tool to express a problem without actually hurting anyone unfairly!

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07:44 Feb-10-2019

I dont supoort it at all.
There is huge difference between a review bomb and a negative review(which are really helpful). Other than being completely hypocritical, unethical and defaming a product, review bombing has no effect. And for people who think that review bombing has effects on major devs, no it does not. Review bombing led to the creation of epic store, a place where prejudiced rants cannot occur.
And to those who say there should be a publisher rating page,

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07:49 Feb-10-2019

can any of you say with 100% certaintys that there will be an unbiased, honest reviews and talks?
we all know such a page will be filled with people who harbor resentment for ridiculous reasons. And these losers will drown out legitimate complaints of legitimate customers. We all have seen players rate pirated copies and confuse it with actual purchases. No bad game is review bombed, only good game with bad ancillary aspects. E.g Skyrim, GTAV, Total War, Metro.

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14:01 Feb-10-2019

Good things have come from from review bombs, just read the other posts for examples. It has an effect, which is exactly why publishers are so eager to convince people like you that they're so wrong. As far as publisher reviews, no, no I can't. On the other hand publisher lie all the time, why should customers be held to a higher standard? Plenty of bad games have been review bombed, btw. Even if it weren't so, who cares. Games aren't people, they don't have feelings.

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14:56 Feb-10-2019

Please tell me how publishers have fooled me?
Which game has been changed due to review bombing and became your version of "better"?
You are literally saying that as long as you feel it "right" you can do anything and everything, screw everyone else.
"Plenty of bad games have been review bombed, btw. Even if it weren't so, who cares. Games aren't people, they don't have feelings." So do companies, they care about profits, which they are still getting.

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16:09 Feb-10-2019

I'm not justifying anything and everything, that's a gross and wilful misinterpretation of what I said. I simply asked why customers should be held to higher standard than publishers? If you can't answer that don't bother replying. If you can't hurt a companies feelings and you can't hurt a games feelings, then why is review bombing wrong?

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15:05 Feb-10-2019

Review bombing being good or bad depends on what you consider review bombing.
Like for me, review bombing is giving a wrong review of a product that has nothing to do with the product itself.
Negative reviews are helpful, like negative reviewing decisions on paid mods by Bethesda or GTAV illegal single player mods.
Reviewing Metro 2033 or Metro Last Light because of Exodus, either positively or negatively, both is equally wrong, and is what I would consider Review Bombing.

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16:12 Feb-10-2019

Review bombs aren't something that one person can do. A review bomb is when a game receives a very large amount negative reviews in a short time period. That's what it is. It doesn't matter why they're doing, that's what it's called. People review bombed Skyrim for the introduction of paid mods. That was a review bomb. People review bombed the Metro games for Koch Medias decision to make Exodus a Epic store exclusive. That was another review bomb.

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16:41 Feb-10-2019

No, there won't be unbiased reviews during a review bomb - it'll probably be public outrage. And that's fine IMO. Anyone can read the reviews and see what's going on and decide whether or not they care.

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06:55 Feb-10-2019

After reading the comments and such i have seen that you guys are wrong and right. You are wrong because a good game doesn't deserve to be called bad because of a publisher's doings, you might just be taking away a very good experience from someone by giving it a bad review, there are all kinds of people. But you are right because the big publishers only listen to the money they generate with the games they publish, not the people who buy them, or sometimes even the developers. For me there isn't a simple right and wrong, that is my opinion.

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14:05 Feb-10-2019

People should be doing more research into the games they buy then seeing how positive or negative the reviews on Steam are. If they delve in just a little more they will quickly get a different point of view. There are also tons of reviewers on YouTube. There's tons of resources out there and if you're spending you're money simply based simply on whether or not it's "Overwhelmingly Positive" or "Mixed" or what not, then you're just setting yourself up a bad time.

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14:49 Feb-10-2019

Hey i said there are all kinds of people. That's a positive and sometimes a negative thing. You never know what kind of people there are.

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16:13 Feb-10-2019

The point that I was getting at is that people should be well informed. If you get fooled by a review bomb then you have no one to blame but yourself.

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20:09 Feb-10-2019

Yeah i get that... my point being some people choose to not be uninformed, it's easier to just take the first thing you see as the truth. And yes that is their fault... but if we agree why am i even writing this?

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21:43 Feb-10-2019

I'd give you a +1, but it appears I already have. :P

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03:29 Feb-10-2019

i think it's childish. one person on here said that developers should expect such behavior. i wouldnt want to be associated with such behavior. people want one gaming client but arent out there bitching and whining about the games that arent on steam while on other clients. its hypocritical. 100% hypocritical. this type of behavior didnt happen for destiny 2, black ops 2, unreal tournament. no one review bombs cdpr for having drm on steam while not on gog galaxy.


no one is crying cuz they cant get a chick-fil-a spicy chicken sandwich as mcdonalds.

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04:42 Feb-10-2019

CDPR Having DRM on Steam? Last i checked, i can play Witcher 3 without even booting Steam on, and i have the Steam version.

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04:52 Feb-10-2019

Some of their older titles have had DRM in the past but have since been removed.

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05:34 Feb-10-2019

They were included by Bandai Namco, if I remember correctly. It's funny, the DRM free version was pirated considerably less than the SecuROM version.

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14:09 Feb-10-2019

This is not the same as fast food at all. It's a bad analogy. I haven't seen a single person mad that Metro Exodus is going to be on the Epic store. I have seen lots and lots and lots and lots of people angry that Epic gave Koch Media a bag of cash to pull Metro Exodus from the Steam store at the last minute and put it exclusively on the Epic store. Huge difference, mate. If Metro Exodus had been revealed as an Epic Exclusive there wouldn't be even 1/5th the outcry.

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16:37 Feb-11-2019

first, since everyone likes to pick apart part of what i said instead of the whole thing, you obviously missed the points. fast food works cuz i can go and get a burger and fries at most places but sometimes i cant get a specific meal at restaurant that i can get elsewhere.

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16:39 Feb-11-2019

second, i can start up plenty of games that i bought on steam without having to start steam. there are files in the game that are different from the gog version that in the game. does that mean the game is different? no i didnt say that. when you break the code down, there is specifics that link it directly to steam. how can i say that? if you have the steam version, you arent getting it without having to download steam (drm) where i can log into gog without having to download anything and get all the games i have there. it just pulls up the files i own and im free to get what i want.

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23:06 Feb-09-2019

Sometimes damaging a game's sales potential is the only way to get a publisher to listen.

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14:59 Feb-10-2019

Sometimes
Not every time and not for every game. Because that is what we as a community are doing now

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15:02 Feb-10-2019

Yeah im pretty sure that's why he starts with sometimes.

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22:11 Feb-09-2019

I absolutely feel like review bombing is a legitimate way to voice your concerns. As a consumer, that's basically the only way with forum posts (and refunding a game, if possible). Personally I have grown to despise Parodox interactive for example. I defended them for a decade, but despise what they've become. Leaving a negative review pointing out their flaws (imo) is my only way of communicating

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21:09 Feb-09-2019

I think only in special circumstances. Like when GTA V was bombed because Take-Two wanted to ban singleplayer mods.

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20:54 Feb-09-2019

I don't support review bombing too much, simply because things developer/publisher do, are not related to the game and they generally aren't things I care when buying a game. I only support it when it is directly tied to the game, like implementation of pay to win post release. But generally, it doesn't do much,...

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20:56 Feb-09-2019

... since game was already on the market for a while and basically biggest sale window was already missed.Plus it is easy to see if anything was review bombed and ignore that in Steam. I understand why people do it, but still. Also I never participated in it. I simply will skip their next game if it is related to game.

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20:41 Feb-09-2019

I fully support review bombing. even though I've only participated in one. I review bombed Skyrim for it's inclusion of paid mods, which Bethesda had lied about. They has had lots of stolen and copied mods. It was a travesty and serves as the perfect example of a game that deserved to be review bombed. As for Metro. Well, can you really blame them? It's not like they can review bomb the game when it comes out.

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19:43 Feb-09-2019

Only support it for games like Super Seducer. Other than that it's just annoying.

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21:08 Feb-09-2019

Why Super Seducer?

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05:40 Feb-10-2019

Richard La Ruina is a dick. He's been know to do things like issue DMCA take downs on videos that show his games in a negative light. On top of that his games are basically "how to treat women like crap so they'll sleep with you".

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19:25 Feb-09-2019

Instead of bombing game reviews, I would like to have a Developer/Publisher page on Steam, with a a similar rating system, where people can make their complaints.

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20:31 Feb-09-2019

This is what we need but are never going to get. Let's face it. In no world is a publisher like EA or Activision going to put their games on a Platform where they have a 1/10 or 1/5 rating, no way. That's what they'd get though, because that's what they deserve, but it's never going to happen.

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03:02 Feb-10-2019

I have been wanting Developer/Publisher pages for a while. To review bomb a game is a great way to get a company's attention, but it has no value beyond that point. It also misleads people to think that a game is not as good as it is, which causes negative misinformation about the playability of the game. A terrible publisher can make great games. Until someone creates a widely used site to review every game company though, this "lie" is one of the best things gamers have to a unified voice in this industry.

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12:47 Feb-11-2019

Huh, that's a pretty good idea! Might try and make it happen...

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19:14 Feb-09-2019

I look at reviews, but in the end I decide whether I buy or not regardless of the rating. Think it's useless to bomb.

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19:49 Feb-09-2019

I am pretty sure it is not useless, if an game get's a 30% recent rating with a 80% overall rating a lot of people might just not buy it anymore without even looking into it further. Game publishers certainly arn't happy with it.

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07:32 Feb-10-2019

Sure, a lot of people might not buy it, but I am not the usual people, I'd still buy it if I like it. That's why I think it's useless.

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18:05 Feb-09-2019

In cases like Mass Effect 3, I agree with it having been review bombed. You say it's an impediment on creative freedom, I call it fans asking for a decent end. Whether it was laziness or them being rushed to finish it, the original ending was not on par with the rest of the game.

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17:29 Feb-09-2019

No, I don't support it at all, totally against it, also totally against random statements being counted as reviews and having their score taken into a count for the game... This inflates and deflates how good a game is overall... which is why steam needs to revamp their review system.

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02:58 Feb-10-2019

Instead, perhaps (like someone mentioned above), there should be a publisher's page that can instead be reviewed if it is their actions in general that have struck private interests. Otherwise, there is only voting with your Wallets (Which from what I have seen has little effect on AAA developer's bottom line), or textbook review bombing. Yes, the review system needs to be reformed. But developers need to be held accountable too, and we are the customers.


-Sam Cooke

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08:11 Feb-10-2019

That's a great solution.
Also, only indie devs need to be held accountable, since well they are independent, non-indie should have their publisher be accountable, unless we know it's their doing specifically.

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21:12 Feb-10-2019

I fully agree with that statement. Also, I am loving the new notifications that tell us when someone replied to a comment. Thanks, GDT!

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22:27 Feb-10-2019

Yup all the improvements are awesome.

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17:22 Feb-09-2019

I very rarely support such a practice, but I 100% understand why people do it.


But I don't really agree with it.

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17:08 Feb-09-2019

"Review bombing" always sounds like something coordinated when in reality it's just a bunch of retarded publishers/developers pissing of their fans who in return take it out on the games.
"In the case of review bombs, most fans have long since bought the game and it supported it with cash. Aside from messaging the devs or posting on the forums, the only real way they can get their voices heard is by posting a negative review." This.
"But, I guess the real question is what constitutes a valid review bomb." Anything the customer deems worthy, and it's up to everyone individually if they see it the same way.
In the article you make it sound like someone individually has a big red button labelled "Fck over that dev" but it's actually just a few thousands of rans who feel fcked over and...

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17:09 Feb-09-2019

... are trying to make their voices heard by a big multi million dollar faceless corporation who normally doesn't give a rats ass about any of them.
So yeah, let em have it, the more sales and reputation they lose the better.

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16:40 Feb-09-2019

It's not an Ideal way or place to protest something. But it is an effective way to warn other consumers with that red "mostly negative" score. And more often than not, Review bombing always has a decent reason behind it.

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16:45 Feb-09-2019

Also, I think most people that see those negative score will usually look up for which reason the game goes red in the first place (at least for me anyway). So it works like a warning sign to make you read about the game flaws first.

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20:34 Feb-09-2019

Steam has made it especially easy to see when a game has been review bombed and look specifically at the reviews that are part of that bombing. Especially on older game they don't hurt the companies. The only people I feel sorry for are the devs. You know they're already getting a raw deal from the publisher and review bombing can feel like the fans themselves are turning on them. I don't blame that 4a dev for losing his cool, he's between a rock and hard place.

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