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Games Do Benefit From Online Feedback

Online user reviews have come to play a crucial role in our decisions about which products to buy, what TV to watch, and what games to play. But after initial enthusiasm, many platforms have pushed back against them. Netflix’s star ratings and written user reviews are a distant memory, and even YouTube no longer shows the number of “dislikes” a video receives.

Negativity in particular is a no-no. Instagram and Facebook will let you “like” a post, but if you dislike it they don’t want to know. Steam, the world’s largest distributor of PC games, has also struggled with negative reviews – in particular, co-ordinated negative campaigns known as “review bombing”.

However, in recent research published in The Internet and Higher Education we put a video game up for community review. After thousands of players and hundreds of written reviews we found that user feedback, properly managed, can lead to significant improvements. One reason community reviews have become less popular is the rise of “review bombing”, the co-ordinated practice of leaving large numbers of negative user reviews on a game or product in order to reduce its aggregate review score.

Most review-bombing incidents appear to stem from more than just not enjoying a game. They may be driven by ideological disagreement with the content of the game or dislike of the actions of a developer. Other times this activity is automated by bots to suppress media or send a warning to companies. To take one example, a gaming review YouTube channel called Gamer’s Nexus recently reported that one of its videos exposing a scam had received an attack of co-ordinated “dislikes”.

Gamer’s Nexus comment on the automated review bomb. Also, did you note that only the like counts are visible on this post? When community reviews work, the Emperor123 consumer benefits by getting real-world information from the users of a product. On YouTube, for example, the removal of dislike counts makes it hard to quickly assess the quality of a video. This is particularly important information for DIY or crafting videos. The removal of dislikes also makes it more likely that a viewer will be caught out by clickbait, or tricked into watching a video that does not host the content promised.


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