Following the reveal of Borderlands 3, Gearbox earned the ire of steam users when they announced that the game would release as timed exclusive on the Epic Store. Steam users took to the Borderlands Franchise store pages to review bomb in protest over this decision. Now Gearbox CEO, Randy Pitchford, has responded and is unmoved by the protest.
Questioning whether the publisher should maintain a future relationship with Steam has clearly caught the attention of Valve. A day following the tweet, approximately 4K reviews have been discounted from the review system. This has been implemented on all Borderlands games, and has returned their ratings to the “Overwhelmingly Positive” rating accrued prior to the protest.
Valve have been under mounting pressure from developers and publishers to implement controls for misuse of the review system. This marks the first time Valve have enforced the recently implemented control for “off topic” reviews. It also represents a positive departure from their usual approach to community management, or lack thereof. However, it raises some questions about how, and when, they will decide to impose the feature in future protests.
While the conditions were different, A4 Games’ Metro Series recently received a review bomb protest following the removal of Metro Exodus mere weeks prior to launch. A4 Games’ absolutely benefitted from having a prominent position on the Steam store; the store with the largest audience. Though the protest was definitely inspired by the same choices made by Gearbox. In actioning the control for Gearbox, but not for A4 Games’, it feels like a conflict of interest.
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