Steam introduces feature to combat Borderlands review bombings, Gearbox CEO responds to situation
Why it matters: The drama surrounding the news that Borderlands 3 will be a timed Epic Games Store exclusive isn’t abating. Some fans of the series were so angry about the decision that they reviewed bombed the previous games on Steam, which led to Valve introducing a new review policy. Now, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford has given his view on the situation.
Last week brought confirmation that Borderlands 3 would arrive on September 13 and be exclusive to the Epic Games Store for the first six months post-launch. As was the case when Metro Exodus was revealed to be an Epic exclusive, the previous entries in the franchise have been getting review bombed on Steam.
To try and counter the review bombs, Steam has added an “off-topic filter,” which excludes these reviews from counting toward a game’s overall score. Borderlands 2, for example, has received over 4000 negative reviews since April 3, but as these aren’t taken into account, the game’s recent reviews are classed as ‘Very Positive.’
Borderlands 2 is the first game on Steam to make use of the “off-topic reviews” marking. Over 4000 reviews are excluded from the rating calculation. pic.twitter.com/kUMN0Lqdx3
— Steam Database (@SteamDB) April 6, 2019
Games that have an off-topic filter will show an asterisk next to their review ranks. “This product has experienced one or more periods of off-topic review activity. Based on your preferences, the reviews within these periods have been excluded from this product’s review score,” explains the platform.
The filter is optional—users can revert back to the original system if they want—and it’s still possible to read the negative reviews when the feature is enabled.
It appears the controversy has made at least one person involved in the Borderlands franchise happy that publisher 2K decided to pick Epic over Steam. Responding to a tweet from Gearbox developer Scott Velasquez, company CEO Randy Pitchford wrote: “this misuse makes me kind of happy about 2k’s decision,” adding that the experience “makes me want to reconsider Gearbox Publishing’s current posture on the platform.”
Ironically, that this misuse is possible and that Steam has no interest in correcting this misuse makes me kind of happy about 2k’s decision and makes me want to reconsider Gearbox Publishing’s current posture on the platform.
— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) April 5, 2019
For all the objections, it appears that Epic Games isn’t about to slow down when it comes to signing exclusivity deals. The latest rumors claim the PC version of Red Dead Redemption 2, when it eventually arrives, will skip Steam for Epic. Expect plenty of outrage if that turns out to be true.