By using a tool they built, the goal is to "identify any anomalous review activity on all games on Steam in as close to real-time as possible", and then notify "a team of people at Valve, who'll then go and investigate". At this point, however, the user reviews will still be live.
Should it find a slew of what it considers reviews unrelated to the likelihood that future purchasers will be unhappy if they buy the game, it will not count toward the review score. "Developers understand that they're valuable to players, but want to feel like they're being treated fairly". Valve have said they are now rolling out a new feature to remove "off-topic" reviews from their overall ratings calculations.
A "review bomb" is when players mass-post reviews in a short space of time with the intent to lower a game's overall Review Score. It is worth noting that the reviews themselves will not be removed, but rather made hidden so that those who are still interested in them can still find them.
While it's not now clear how effective Valve will be in identifying off-topic reviews (or whether it will help in solving the issue), this is good news for developers who may have been anxious about their own titles.
Valve has announced it's revisiting user reviews on Steam in order to combat review bombing.
Over the past few years, review bombs - people organising en masse to post negative reviews to a game's store page to tank its review score - have become one of Steam's most visible issues. It only takes a minute to dig into those reviews to see if the issue is something you care about.
One flaw in the system is that any legitimate reviews falling within the excluded review-bombing period will also be omitted: "We've tested our process of identifying off-topic review bombs on the entire history of reviews on Steam, and in doing so, we've found that while we can look through reviews and community discussions to determine what's behind the review bomb, it isn't feasible for us to read every single review", Valve explained.
According to Valve, however, data has shown that review bombs are "temporary distortions", so the overall review score will remain accurate even if some well-meaning reviews get caught up in Valve's net.
However, a game's page will still have a notification letting customers know if periods of off-topic review activity have been detected.
"We had long debates about these two, and others like them", reads the blog post.