PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has sold over 10 million copies on Steam and the game is a big success. But this week, the hugely popular battle royale game started to get review bombed on Steam, as players took to the game’s Steam page to voice their frustrations.
In the past few days, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds‘ Steam page was hit with 20,000 negative reviews, tipping the game’s rating from “mostly positive” to “overwhelmingly negative.” Those who have left the negative reviews seem to be doing so in order to protest a recent change to the in-game advertisements. as Chinese players are now seeing ads for a Chinese virtual private network (VPN) service.
China does not have any local servers. This means that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds players in the region are forced to put up with high ping (latency) connecting to servers in other regions or pay for a VPN to boost their connection to these foreign servers. Players are angry at developer Bluehole, and want to know why the company is encouraging Chinese players to pay for VPNs when it could just introduce local servers instead.
While many are sympathetic to the Chinese players’ cause and agree that Bluehole is in the wrong, many are also saying that this highlights Steam’s problem with review bombing. Steam platform-holder Valve recently addressed the issue by highlighting them with data on a game’s Steam page. In the case of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, that does allow people to see clearly when the review bomb started.
However, some may argue that this latest incident shows that Valve is not doing enough. The new system may give people data to work with, but unless they do some digging, wading into those reviews or looking up news reports like this one, it’s not immediately clear why the game is being review-bombed. The change also does nothing to discourage people from review bombing, meaning that it still goes unpunished. This is especially problematic for when review bombing is used to harass developers, rather than protest business practices in the case of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is just the latest game to be affected by review bombing, with the likes of Firewatch and Valve’s on Dota 2 being impacted too. But PUBG is one of the biggest, third-party titles to be hit with negative reviews in this way. This fact could encourage Valve to take more action and do more to tackle review bombing, as so many Steam users and developers have requested.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is available now on PC in Early Access and will launch on Xbox One in 2017.