The review bomb is an activity of the Internet as we know it, where a large number of people leave a negative evaluation in a review aggregator such as Metacritic. During the last years, this activity has been linked to various titles in different ways.
As we have discussed, review bombing is a deplorable activity and a practice that needs to be stopped right now, however, not all review bombing is created equal.
For this reason, we will tell you about the review bombing cases that had a just cause.
Spore – DRM
We start this listing with Spore, a 2008 game designed by Maxis and Will Wright which is one of the most anticipated titles in video game history, as it was supposed to be a giant step for simulation games like The Sims. As you know, in this game you create a creature from its earliest stage of development and watch it grow until it evolves enough to reproduce, create a race with cities, technology and so on, until exploring outer space.
Spore was positively criticized in the reviewing spheres of that time, however, he was also severely punished for the bad practices of his publishers, in this case Electronic Arts, who, in an effort to have maximum control over their products, ended up affecting the legitimate consumers of the game.
In the case of Spore, a very aggressive anti-piracy measure was used which required that your copy be authenticated during installation and the first time you used online mode, which, in turn, is an alternative to a system proposed before launch which required activation every 10 days.
But it wasn’t the only thing EA did with the game as it implemented a restriction that limited product activation on 3 different computers. This caused a media frenzy, which prompted Internet users to organize to leave 1-star reviews on Amazon. This action was called Review Bombing.
Subsequently, EA slightly changed the restrictions, raising the limit to 5 computers and manually reviewing the legitimate cases of users who need more than 5 activations in short periods of time. Their argument was that less than 1% of users install the game on more than 3 devices.
This was the first case in which review bombing was justified to maintain consumer freedom and it was a bitter episode for EA – one of many during this decade – which led the company to be voted the worst company in the United States. for 2 consecutive years.
Grand Theft Auto V – Mods don’t mess
We follow our horror stories with Rockstar Games and Grand Theft Auto V, which recently announced that it would arrive on a new batch of platforms, surely to try to steal the crown from Minecraft as the best-selling game in history and Capcom with the most popular game. ported from the story as Resident Evil 4.
What concerns us this time is the lawsuit between Take-Two Interactive and the users who make mods, which have been instrumental in the development of the franchise. And to see how important mods are for GTA, we just have to turn to look at the community that currently continues to enjoy GTA San Andreas thanks to the incredible list of mods that keeps it current and always fresh, but that’s one story for another occasion.
What happened with GTA V is that, after Rockstar said that mods were welcome as long as they are used in Single Player mode, Take-Two made the decision to go against a popular mod tool called OpenIV. Their argument was that such software can be used to load illicit tools into online modes. In response, the creator of the project unfortunately announced that he would stop distributing the tool, because fighting such a large company is a weight loss, despite the fact that they are absolutely right in this regard for being a fair tool with the game policies.
For the above reason, thousands of users upset with Take-Two’s actions flooded the game’s discussion forums on Steam to leave negative reviews. The impact was such that, during that time, the game went from a favorable user rating to a bittersweet mixed review for the company.
However, this case is not yet over. Rockstar Games commented that it supports the creative manifestations of the people and in 2017 contacted the creator of the mod to solve this problem. But a year later, details of a damages lawsuit emerged that Take-Two filed against the mod’s creator. And so we continue…
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Steam – Paid Mods
Now we go with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, another game that, for a moment, looked like it was going to reach all the platforms known to man as the good GTA V wants to do. And in the same way, we are going to save introductions on the game, as it is one of the most popular in the last decade.
On this occasion, the furor was not caused by a single developer house, this time there were 2 actors who participated in this episode of review bombing, since Valve was also involved. But we are going by parts, as you know, mods on PC are great, but sometimes a little difficult to digest. For this reason, Valve designed the Workshop as a tool to find and install mods simply and quickly. In this way, it is no accident that the Skyrim Workshop has become one of the most active, since, on PC, Skyrim and Mods go almost hand in hand.
For this reason, the entire Steam community screamed in the sky when Valve announced the introduction of a feature that would allow content creators to receive a payment for their creations. Actually, this feature sounds good, except when you reviewed it in detail and realized that Valve and Bethesda pocketed 75% of the purchase, while the creator of the mod received 25%.
The problem was not the money, it was the folly of wanting to capitalize on the passion of the community. For years, rather decades, user modifications have always been free and the result of the passionate work of a handful of players who gladly share it with others. Because of this, many believed that adding money to the equation is to smash the spirit of PC modding.
As usual, the community organized to give their point of view on the subject and creatively, for example, they created a mod that they added to a beggar named Beth, who begged money in the town for no apparent reason, and of course They left thousands of negative reviews on Steam.
And in less than 5 days, both Valve and Bethesda retracted the paid mods on Steam. And if you thought Bethesda had learned the lesson, well you’re wrong, because later I would introduce the Creation Club, which is a system for monetizing mods, and some very ugly mods. But that is another story.
Warcraft III: Reforged – Broken Game
Now we follow a more recent one: WarCraft III: Reforged, which would be a Remake of one of the most beloved and important RTS in the history of the genre, and that would restore the glory of the game and raise it to new levels, in the same way that the StarCraft: Brood War remake did a couple of years ago.
But as we know, it did not happen that way. Warcraft III: Reforged became one of Blizzard’s lowest-rated games in its entire celebrated developer history. And the reasons, this time are superfluous.
As you know, Warcraft III: Reforged was announced at BlizzCon and from the beginning it was said that it would be a great aesthetic change in order to tie it with World of Warcraft. In addition, it was discussed that many of the key moments of the game would be totally modified to add a cinematic touch of quality never seen before, among many other things, such as an improved graphical interface which was postponed until after launch.
And in this way, the launch of the game arrived, which was an opportunity for the players to realize everything that was missing in the game. Although the graphic appearance was improved, there were certain aspects that did not immediately match, such as the animations of the characters, which seemed to be stop motion animations, among many other factors such as a lousy optimization which affected the frame count per second.
But it was not all, the new cinematic aspect that had been promised was completely conspicuous by its absence and, one of the most serious aspects, is that it broke many elements by default of the original game. As you recall, the remake client arbitrarily replaced the classic version of the game. In other words, options that had existed for 20 years died and disappeared with Reforged.
For example, the clan section disappeared along with automated tournaments, the LAN feature, offline play, ranked games, the Ladder, and much, much more disappeared overnight. And while some of these features have reappeared in recent updates, not everything is amended.
And wait, there is more. And that the user agreement was also modified, which made all mods in the game the property of Blizzard. For this reason, Internet users turned to Metacritic to leave their opinion of the game, which placed it as the game with the lowest user rating in Metacritic history with a 0.5 … currently a 0.6.
An unimproved classic
Star Wars Battlefront II – Loot Boxes
And we end with Star Wars Battlefront II, one of the most talked about cases of review bombing in recent history, which brings Electronic Arts back to the wall along with DICE for implementing a couple of design practices that were not to the total liking of players food.
And it is that as you remember, when the game was released in its early access period, different practices quickly became apparent, which pointed out that a player could invest money to receive improvements that directly affected the balance of the game, in addition to characters and content, which could take dozens of hours for other players to complete.
And it was not all, since in addition some confusion was noted when selling the different currencies within the game. For example, there is the case of the player who spent money on crystals, thinking that he could get Darth Vader, which can be obtained with credits. To which, EA replied that the goal is to fill the player with a sense of pride and reward, which quickly became the most negative vote comment in Reddit history.
Battlefront II was also accused of fostering gambling addiction, as after the scandal in the gamer community, different media outlets turned to watch the game, sparking complaints that went as far as betting commissions in various countries to review the game and decide if they really are bets.
First of all, the community again went to Metacritic to publish their feelings on the subject, which places StarWars Battlefront II as one of the games with the lowest user ratings on the platform. Currently, it has 1.3 user on PlayStation 4.
Days after this happened, DICE decided to block the entire sale of microtransactions from the game and redesigned the multiplayer progression, making it clear that review bombing practices are a powerful communication tool between gamers and game developers.
Pride and accomplishment of Electronic Arts