Metacritic, your days might be numbered. Valve announced this week that it's launched yet another new initiative on Steam, this one known as Steam Reviews. The concept's a simple one, and brings a lot more to the table than Valve's current Recommended Games feature. Basically, if you've played a game on Steam - even if you don't own it - you can write up a review in the language of your choice.
Once that review's gone live, other players who come across it can rate it based on whether or not it was helpful, and share their thoughts in the review's comments section. Those reviews that receive exceptionally high ratings will show up more frequently in community searches, while those which are unhelpful or spam posts will vanish into the ether. What's more, if you like a particular review, you can take a look at all other reviews written by that review's author.
It gets better. Although developers aren't able to delete negative reviews of their product (that would defeat the point of a review system), they can respond to whatever reviews they see fit, and establish a dialogue with community reviewers. By getting more in touch with the Steam community, developers can bring their games to new levels of quality.
Would you believe me if I said it gets even better? Valve intends to display Steam Reviews data alongside Metacritic scores on each game's store page. At the moment, it's looking for a way to generate a score based on community reviews - though it admits that it must first evaluate all the information it's receiving from the Steam Reviews beta(and from Steam itself).
Plus, you'll finally get to find out what your buddy Steve thinks of Guncraft
"Many products on Steam change significantly over time as the game or software is updated and new content is added," Valve explains in an FAQ. "In order to form a score that accurately reflects the current state of a product, we first need to gather and evaluate the data from reviews."
Currently, all Recommendations previously written on Steam have been upgraded to Reviews status. Each of these recommendations is currently visible only to a player's Steam friend's list, though they can be edited to be visible to the general public on the Reviews Page.
This is something that's never really been tried before in the context of video games. Certainly, you've got product reviews on websites like Amazon or eBay, but the difference there is that these reviews are more or less guaranteed to be seen by the developer through the development process. Reviewers can now communicate directly with the developer on their review page, and the developer, with exact knowledge of what their players like or dislike about their product, can easily respond.
Thought I forgot about this picture? Think again.
So...yeah. While it's nothing ground-breaking like the Oculus Rift, it's still pretty cool.