Users who have recorded playtime on your product on Steam can write reviews to indicate whether they recommend your product to others. These reviews may appear on your product's store page and in the Steam Community, depending on how many other users find them helpful. The aggregate of positive and negative reviews is used to calculate a review score which is also displayed on your store page, giving an overview of how customers have reviewed your product in the last 30 days and over its lifetime.
Reviews are an easy way for customers to share their experience with your product, and to describe how your game or software has matched their expectations. Customer expectations can be set any number of ways—through the marketing on the product page itself, through gameplay videos or stills, and through pre-release copies sent to press, etc. It can be helpful to use reviews as a feedback channel to understand if expectations are being set and met correctly.
Developer Usage Rules
We’re pretty confident in the data we’re getting from user reviews on products across Steam. As such, we don’t see customer benefit from individual developers or games soliciting reviews from customers. Along those lines, below are rules for things you shouldn’t do with regards to user reviews:
- Don’t attempt to abuse or artificially manipulate the review system.
- Don’t solicit reviews in exchange for any games, DLC, money, or other rewards. The exception is sending a copy of your game to press or internet personalities to get previews or reviews.
- Don’t ask customers to review your product from within your application.
How Reviews Are Displayed
- Early Access: Once a product fully releases from Early Access, reviews from the Early Access period will be marked on the store page. If a user updates their Early Access review after the product has been released, the Early Access flag on the review will be removed.
- Free Reviews: When leaving a review, customers may specify if they acquired a product for free. This is recommended for press or promotional copies.
- Pre-Release Reviews: If someone receives a copy of your product before release (usually via a release-override key) and writes a review, that review will be marked as a "Pre-Release Review."
- Review Score: At the top of the store page are two review scores - one from the past 30 days, and one for the product's lifetime. Only purchases (not key activation) are included in the review score.
Reviews In the Steam Library
After playing a game for a period of time, users will be prompted to leave a review inside the Steam client. If a user leaves a negative review for a game and subsequently continues to log substantial playtime, Steam may prompt them to update their review. This can be valuable in cases where issues customers had at the time of their review may have been addressed or their opinion of the game has changed.
We work hard to maintain Steam as a safe place for customers and developers, but we need your help in identifying cases of abuse, harassment, or violations of our terms. We ask that you flag cases where a review is inappropriate or where the reviewer is engaging is malicious practices.
There may be some cases where reviews contain inappropriate material, such as scams, harassment, or are otherwise abusive. They are also occasionally reviews that are entirely off-topic and don't relate to your product at all or that violate some Steam Guidelines. There are a couple of reasons why you may want to flag a review:
- The review is abusive or contains abusive language.
- The review is off-topic or not a review of the game, software, or the service.
- The review violates one or more of the Rules and Guidelines For Steam: Discussions, Reviews, and User Generated Content.
Flagging should be reserved for clear-cut cases. When in doubt, you should allow users to down vote the review and use the report tool. In most cases, reviews that are off-topic won't be rated as helpful by customers and thus will not appear to many users.
To flag a review:
- Click the "Recommended" or "Not Recommended" headline of a review to open up the detail view of that review.
- You will find a orange section in the right-hand column for "moderator controls" where you will see a drop-down for flagging the review.
- Select "Abusive" if the review contains a scam, harassment, or is otherwise abusive to developers or users.
- Select "Off-Topic" only if the review doesn't relate to your product or the service you are providing. An example is if the review talks about ice cream instead of your strategy game.
- With either choice, you will get a confirmation dialogue. Then select "OK". Steam Community Moderators or Valve Employees will then review flagged reviews and delete or unflag as appropriate.
Did we get it wrong?
If a review you flagged was marked as resolved by Valve's moderation team and you think we made a mistake, please contact us
for more clarification.
Briefly describe the situation along with a link to the review in question. We're happy to take another look and provide more information on our decision.
Responding To Reviews
There may be cases where the reviewer is missing important information, or may have encountered a bug that has since been resolved. To help keep the community on-track, we have provided tools for developers to respond directly to such reviews.
This response will be visible to anyone who can see the review and will be marked as an official response from the developer.
To reply directly to a review:
- Click the "Recommended" or "Not Recommended" headline of a review to open up the detail view of that review.
- You will find a orange section in the right-hand column for "moderator controls" where you will see a link for "Write Official Developer Response."
- Once you click the link, you will be provided with a text field to enter your response. Please remember to keep it clear and concise.
- This response will then appear immediately below the related review and will be visible to anyone that can see the review.
Though it may be tempting, not every review needs to be responded to. A developer response will frequently draw more attention than the original statement, potentially turning a small issue into a much larger community discussion. It's also not a good idea to use this feature to refute customer opinions. Your direct attention can be seen as validation or a defensive attempt to silence your customers.
You're going to encounter reviews of all types. Some will be tremendously helpful and constructive, while others may represent frustrating or incomplete assessments of a product. Reviews should be used as one channel for feedback, but don't let them dominate or distract efforts away from the product.
- Set a limit on the amount of time spent reading reviews. Once the meaningful high-level feedback has been extracted, direct your attention back to working on the product.
- Don't respond to every review. There will be times that something is worth clarifying with a response, but be very thoughtful about how your communication will be received.
- Don't argue with reviewers. Let your community answer each others' questions. Your response can be seen as an attempt to silence or refute someone's opinion.
- Read our Moderation Best Practices article, as much of the information there applies to reviews as well.
A review bomb is when a large amount of players use reviews to voice their unhappiness, lower a review score and provoke a response. This can be an unsettling and overwhelming experience, especially without an obvious way to address it. The good news is that there are features you can utilize to manage the effects of a review bomb. There are also best practices that you can follow to avoid making matters worse.
What should I do?
- Reach out to us via email or through our Partner Support channel. We can give you more information, along with adding extra moderators to help you flag abuse and keep an eye on your discussion hub.
- Spend time figuring out where the review bomb came from. If you broke a feature or introduced a new bug, it's probably as simple as getting to work on fixing it and weathering the storm of negativity. If it's something that is unrelated to the product or provided service, the abnormal period of volume will be removed from the overall score. You can read more about how we make that distinction here.
- Don't censor or publicly argue with reviewers - it's a battle you won't win. We've never seen it work at stopping negative reviews, but it's an effective way to keep them coming.
- Don't let someone on your team become a target. If you do communicate, consider doing so from an anonymous developer account. You can create an account specifically for this and add it to your partner group from your Permissions Overview page.
- Prioritize the mental and emotional well-being of your team. This is a potential cost of a review bomb that is hard to measure, but will likely be the biggest challenge faced during an event like this.
It will return to normal
In all examples, the surge of volume and sentiment will calm down after a few days. The reviews during that period will be bucketed by Steam and identified as such by your customers. In the case of off-topic bombs, those reviews will not contribute to your overall score.
The majority of reviews associated with bombs aren't typically marked as helpful. Once the campaign is over, it's less likely that they will be surfaced in your review feed. We also haven't seen a correlation between review bombs and purchasing behavior.
API Access to Reviews
You can make an API call to get programmatic access to user reviews within a certain date range, or meeting certain criteria. Learn more here
Frequently Asked QuestionsQ. I'm a game developer. Can I respond to reviews?
A. Yes, when you post in the comments of reviews on your product, your comment will be flagged as being from the developer.
Additionally, you can use the specific provided area to leave a developer comment that will appear more prominently.Q. I'm a developer. Can I delete reviews of my product?
A. Not directly. If you find abusive reviews, you can flag them. The review will continue to be listed on your store page until a moderator deletes the review or removes the flag.Q. My game or software has changed a lot since it launched. Will reviews reflect that?
A. The reviews that are shown most prominently on your store page are selected from recently-written, helpful reviews, which should reflect the current state of your game or software. Older reviews will phase out over time and any reviews written during Early Access will be labeled as such.Q. Do customers need to have purchased my game in order to write a review of it?
A. Purchase is not required. Customers may write a review for any product they have launched via Steam. Whether that customer registered a Steam key obtained elsewhere, participated in a Steam Free Weekend, played a Free game, or played a game via Family Library Sharing, they will be able to write a review for your product if they have playtime. The customer's playtime in that game or time in that software title will appear next to their review.Q. Can customers write a negative review?
A. Yes. Customers can leave a negative or positive review for any reason. If customers are unhappy with the product, or don't believe that it is delivering on what it promises, they may use the review to tell other customers why they do not recommend it. Q. Can customers report abusive reviews?
A. Yes, similar to other content shared on Steam, each review will have a 'flag' button to report offensive content.Q. Some customers are basing their review on practices or data not related to the game. Is that allowed?
A. Yes. Steam reviews tend to be a reflection of how happy customers are with the game itself as well as the value proposition, the business practices, and the experience of being part of that game’s community. This is all valid feedback and a reflection of how customers feel about the experience provided by your game.Q. My game is being review bombed. Will Steam tag it and remove it from my score?
A. If your score is being affected by a review bombing (an anomalous change in volume and sentiment), you should reach out to Valve through email or through our Partner Support
channel so that the team can assess the reviews and give you more information.