After the recent Notre Dame tragedy, Ubisoft
made Assassin's Creed Unity
free via Uplay
- allowing players to experience the historic landmark in great detail. Following on from this Valve
noticed that on Steam
the game saw an influx of positive reviews in a fashion that made the platform holder wonder if it was a case of positive 'review bombing'.
Stuff that needed to be flagged as off-topic in a similar fashion to negative reviews that would appear, say, once a game or sequel to a popular series was to become exclusive to the Epic Games Store. According to a new post
, the situation surrounding Unity is a little different.
Data-wise, it doesn't quite fit the pattern of negative review bombs: in the case of AC:Unity there was a significant increase in actual players alongside the increase in reviews. That isn't necessarily the case with a typical off-topic review bomb (but, to be clear, we have seen some negative review bombs with that characteristic).
Without reading the actual reviews, the data here all looks very much like a game that's gone on sale, or received an update. It's seen a spike in players, and as many people have come to realize, there's a fairly good correlation between player count and user reviews - if you get more players, you're going to get more reviews.
Turns out that in the case of Unity there was an influx of new players, but Valve admits that when it went through the reviews there were mentions of the Notre Dame tragedy and the giveaway. Valve also notes that it's original definition of 'review bomb' refereed to reviews "aimed at lowering the Review Score", which this doesn't fit. The post, which is worth reading also goes into detail about cases like this and whether or not the policy needs updating to reflect other "off-topic" scenarios that aren't based on negative outcomes.
In the end Valve's decision is to leave Unity user reviews as is. Adding that flagging the recent spike as off-topic would do little to affect the game on Steam. "The overall Review Score would decrease by 1.3% if we marked it, which wouldn't have any significant effect on its visibility in the store," Valve concludes.