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What makes you write a review?


Hmm… seems like you can leave an unofficial comment! How did I miss that…


@coralinecastell so yes, the devs can reply unofficially, I was wrong about that :_:.
Still hold by my larger point tho


I think we’re all mostly aware your main point stands and we agree with it.

My point however, is that we’re only human, and we all lead lives and writing reviews is just a PART of it.

So even though we know that it makes a difference, we can’t always, individually, be the ones to change the world with our own two hands.



Never said I don’t write reviews. :wink:

Usually, I just wait on writing them until I absolutely have an opinion on it. If a port is so botched that I know there’s no chance I’ll ever play it, if a game is so irredeemable and awful that I know my opinion won’t change, or if I already finished a game and know for a fact what my thoughts are without the fear of a sudden nosedive in quality, I’ll think about a review and write it.

This has been my approach ever since I rushed out a review to Necropolis within three hours of gameplay to combat the various negative reviews that were popping up with less than 20 minutes of gameplay, only to beat the game an hour later and find out how truly shallow it was. The whole wait-until-finished process of reviews is why several games I haven’t finished but didn’t really enjoy don’t have negative reviews on them, like Rise of the Tomb Raider, even though I’m somewhat certain that going back to finish the game wouldn’t make my opinion of the game any better.

Even then, I’m a little inconsistent; I never dropped a negative review on Bioshock 2, in the vain hope that some day I’ll get it working and finish the game. The hours I put into the game left such an amazing impression on me that I couldn’t bring myself to downvote the game despite constant crashing that eventually deterred me from finishing it.

I’ve been playing Darksiders II recently, a game I couldn’t stand on my original attempt to play it, and now that I’ve gotten over some of my problems with the loot system (they’re definitely there, just not gamebreakingly bad as I originally thought), I’m glad I waited before dropping a negative review.

Granted, I make exceptions from time to time. If I’m really sure about a game, as was the case with Red Faction Guerrilla Remarstered or Bladestorm: Nightmare, I’ll drop a review a bit early. If there’s a game like For Honor or Killing Floor 2 where I’m not satisfied with the review I wrote, I’ll settle for a joke-ish review and let the positive vote sink in, as long as it gives you some kind of idea of what you’re getting into.


Fair enough—we all have lives outside of video games, and it’s important not to get too wrapped up in any one thing


also, @xist thank you so much! That really means a lot to me :3


Honestly I just don’t write reviews in general. Those spam reviews I’ve made have mostly just been to get the badge at the time.
And I don’t really read reviews either. If there’s a game I’m interested in I might scroll through a hundred reviews in a minute to get the general gist of current issues.
That’s not to bash people that do write them, it’s probably a good thing I just don’t take part in it.


Still not my responsibility though, I do not have an obligation towards anyone to write recommendations. If I do chose to write one however it is by no means for the sake of the developer but entirely for the sake of the consumer.

The idea of it making little difference is not about nudging the metrics from one tier to the next. In the case for a positive recommendation it’s about reaching another person, It’s about connecting with and sharing an experience with someone else. I write bout games I like because I wish for someone else to see what I saw in it.

From that perspective throwing another thumbs up for a game with thousands of recommendations already is pointless.

Now most of us here do not actually play a lot of very new games. I could imagine the idea would be rather different from the perspective of a new, especially indie, game that does not have several thousand recommendations already. I could maybe see myself writing a recommendation if such a game moved me to the point of wanting to share that with everyone.


I write recommendations because I want to help push hidden gems up, and to help bury the crap. Were it not for the importance of recommendations to small devs on Steam, I wouldn’t bother with them at all, because I don’t think my opinion on games is worth shit. Of course, since the recommendations are consumer-facing, I fill them with information for consumers, might as well try to help them out too.

I don’t usually write recs for well-known games with thousands of recommendations, since that feels pointless.


You know, I totally agree with the point you raise here. But how are you capitalising on that? Are you keeping a little notebook of reviews that you’ve read and liked and then getting in touch with that reviewer and asking them to review your game in exchange for the key? Are you interacting with the steam community who already have your game, posting comments on reviews to show you’re there (I know you’re not from your comments but personally I think dev interaction is a wonderful thing) and keeping in touch with the discussions?

A while back I read a review YQMaoski wrote about an indie game that he enjoyed but found difficult. The game itself looked ok and naturally, my borderline gaming OCD rose to the challenge. As a new kickstarted game it didn’t have many reviews either, so I decided to post my feelings. What surprised me was that the developer team didn’t really make much comment about the review, especially as it was a negative one for a game that was still pretty new and being patched. To that end It made me think that there was no impact from that review…if they cared about me having a bad time surely they’d have reached out to me?

I know people enjoy reading well written reviews because I’ve had people add me as a friend based purely for that reason. However, I primarily write because I enjoy doing it for myself, rather than for other people because as an individual I feel that my worth is pretty minimal beyond just being a + or - 1.

Good luck with the Dev of the Year award…although I’d probably capitalise your Secret and Lair so it scans a little better.


Just in case you’re interested in a dev’s perspective on this: A lack of response doesn’t mean they ignored your review. There are several reasons why they might not have responded:

  • Devs are busy, and would rather fix the problems than spend time trying to figure out how to word a reply.
  • The devs might’ve had an emotional knee-jerk response, and wisely opted not to post it. By the time they cooled off and had time to reply, it was quite likely a while since the OP, at which point a reply would feel belated.
  • Many devs are just plain shy and don’t think their words are worth reading, or don’t want to bother you.
  • Reviews/Recommendations are not an issue tracker, so the fact that you used them implies you DON’T want to follow-up. If you DO want a back-and-forth, you should also make a post on the forum, or use whatever contact methods they provide.
  • There’s no established reply etiquette, and many devs feel like recommendations, beyond their influence on the algorithm, are “by players, for players”, i.e. not for the devs to interact with except in exceptional circumstances.
  • They fear being misunderstood. The safest reply would be “thank you, we’ll try to fix these issues!”, but it can easily come off as disingenuous. More involved replies can be misunderstood as aggressive or dismissive. Even if the chances are low, the risk is enough to put many devs off responding.


99% of the reviews I’ve written have been for products sold through Steam. My drive to write reviews is usually fueled by two things:

  1. Requirements for a Steam badge
  2. Intense displeasure at a game’s state (bugs, glitches, game play screw-ups, et cetera)

In the case of the former, I usually put some thought into it and try to pick one that I’ve actually enjoyed. I try to keep it to the point and let people know what they’re in for if they decided to pick up the game. Then I figure it’ll never been looked at again, because I’m not a professional reviewer, but if someone does look at it then I want to make sure it can help inform their opinion.

In the case of the latter, it’s usually because I’m so pissed off at something that’s so monumentally broken in a game, that I feel that everyone out there needs to know about it. I’ll lay out the flaws and problems, and put it out there for the world. That being said, the times I’ve felt the need to go that far have been few and far between, so if I get to that point of anger then the Dev really Dun Goofed.


So I’m actually fairly active with my player-base, but I tend to keep my interactions personal and private. Most often I’ll send an active player (wrote reviews, posted screenshots, etc.) a friend request, and if they accept I’ll privately chat with them, and ask what they enjoyed, what they think could be done better, etc…
I also have a small, but fairly active Discord server for more public discussion with fans (feel free to enter, but be warned: it’s memes all the way down ;)).

So to some degree I’ve done that. I’ve sent review copies of Nepenthe to as many gaming news sites as possible (got a grand total of 3 articles out of that), and contacted over 100 Steam Curators (of which only 17 actually played and wrote a review). As to contacting individuals, there are a few issues with the assumptions I think you may be making, so I’ll try to clear those up if I can: a) reviews by people that received the game either from a key or for free aren’t counted by the Steam algorithm. This means that although they can be useful for potential players, they won’t make the game appear more or less prominently on Steam. Also, b) This is Steam’s official stance on soliciting reviews:

I know plenty of people who abuse the system, but for ethical and practical reasons (like not getting banned) I try to stay as above-ground as possible.
At the end of the day though, I’m not making games for the money (If I were, I wouldn’t be doing RPGs, that’s for sure). I do it for the joy of it, and a big part of that is seeing how my work affects others. I’ve made some awesome friends while developing Nepenthe, and I care far more about keeping those friendships than extorting reviews. So I guess we come back to what @coralinecastell said:

Thanks for coming to my TED talk. :wink:


lol the number of times I did exactly that…


Wrong. My reviews were never public. I never cared about influencing my friends’ opinion either, it was more so just a fyi on how i felt about a game because people don’t usually bother to ask. I’ve also noticed that when people do “read” what i write, they’re really only skimming over it and not reading it. Basically the main reason i don’t write reviews is because it’s a waste of my time.


I write a review when I have any strong thoughts that I need to express or if I feel that the reviews on the store page aren’t giving the game the justice it deserves.