You can buy positive Steam user reviews for $5

4 min read
64

bribes

For as long as publications that rely on advertising video games have reviewed those very video games, there have been accusations of bribery, and bought reviews. In days of yore, magazines were accused of taking cash in return for positive news and reviews. Since the dawn of the internet, the same sort of thing has perpetuated – and I’m sure you’re all familiar with a certain animated Gif (that’s a hard G, by the way – always and forever) involving the flow of cash from a large publisher to a large website.

It’s led many to look for other sources of information and opinion – places like YouTube, where honesty prevails, and user reviews because they’re incorruptible and not subject to agendas.

In recent times, I’ve taken to looking askance at user reviews, because whiny, vocal gamers on the internet will do all they can to make things seem worse than they are, or give unnecessarily high praise because of their own fandom – but they’re still an important, and often useful metric. Which makes it pretty sad to see that they can be bought.

PCGamesN has done a good bit of investigation in to the shady world of bought Steam user reviews – where sites like Fiverr (a sort of Gumtree, but for services instead pf products) allow budding developers and publishers to get buy glowing reviews for $5 and a Steam key.

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You really should head over to PCGamesN to read the whole thing – but they’ve been in contact with both the people selling their reviewing services, and those who seem to be paying for them. There appears to be an unspoken agreement that bought reviews will come with thumbs-up attached to them.

Not all review “sellers” seem to be quite so unethical. Of the 13 reviewers polled, only one said they’d not guarantee a positive review.

“I guarantee only that my review will be honest,” he replied. “If you’re looking for those kinds of fake reviews, there are plenty on Fiverr who provide such a service. However, I would suggest that you take great care because while in the short term such schemes may make your product look good, it usually ends up doing more harm in the long run.”

Others, who do promise positive coverage, don’t seem to think this is unethical in any way.

“No, there is nothing misleading or unethical about the reviews,” said one seller. “The review will be positive and will make other people satisfied about buying the game.”

It’s worth noting that none of the games dug up in the investigation are big titles, so the effect on the industry as a whole seems to be minimal. It is, however, both very interesting, and terribly disconcerting – because it’s impossible to really tell the scale of it all. Fiverr is just one of the many sites that offer services for a song.

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User reviews exist for those who don’t trust the media’s critique, and also offer more insight to games post-launch. That they can be bought is a little unsettling.

Last Updated: March 3, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    I’m not surprised something like this happens. Sometimes you see some really weird stuff when it comes to user reviews on small games – it’s kinda obvious when you see a rave review with an hour’s play time.

    • Like that kak Broforce. You can just feel that they paid for their positive reviews.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        More like GUPTAFORCE #amirite

      • Jan Prins

        Hey! Your Sister was kak! Or was that MY sister. I is very much confused now

        • Wow 0_O

          • Jan Prins

            Hey! We are a family of cannibals. One day we had a fight and she said Bite Me! So I did. Medium rare and with some generous amounts of Tabasco sauce.
            Turns out she wasn’t very tasty.

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Medium rare, also known by Trevor as still alive

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Only vegan hipsters eat raw food.

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Indeed, hence why I prepare it masterfully to medium rare specifications

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Also explains why I always see you farming online but never cooking online. Damn Warvegan.

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            Explains why you run around with a flamethrower and I go around slicing everything

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            COOK ALL THE THINGS!

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            xD

            While wearing a pink dress?

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            STRAWBERRY ICE-CREAM PINK RHINO PRIME!

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            If they release a Pink Iron Skin MT, you’d be all over that like a well done steak eh?

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Cerise-ly!

          • Commander Admiral Chief
      • You shut your mouth BROFORCE IS AWESOME.

  • Pariah

    So uh. I’m getting into the review business. Anyone want a review. Totally honest. Satisfaction guaranteed. R50 a thumbs up.

    • Jan Prins

      Thumbs up what???

      • Pariah

        Only you… *sigh*

        • Only him? 0_O

          • Pariah

            Isn’t his name Neo? O_o

          • I think if you put a thumb up him it’d be more of a NeOW!

          • Pariah

            I have small hands. I doubt it. :/

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            or NeOHHELLOSAILOR

          • Jan Prins

            I do feel special. His thumbs are only for meeee!!!

          • Pariah

            OI. You only get one of them.. The other is for sucking bullshit out of so that I can comment here…

          • Jan Prins

            But one is not enough. I am a big asshole, remember?

          • Pariah

            XD

    • Stick with dollars. By end of next year you can quite your job.

  • Commander Admiral Chief

    Listen to Jeoffrey, it is a hard G

  • Commander Admiral Chief

    I ONLY trust Lagz for reviews, since I know the buggers wonderful poepol people working there

    • Pariah

      Lies. It’s because you spend so much time here you don’t have time for anything else. And you’ve been indoctrinated. And maybe a bit of Stockholm Syndrome.

      • Commander Admiral Chief

        Ever since JEOFF fondled my nipples the first time, I’ve got a soft (soft?) spot for him

        • Pariah

          The only thing Jeoff can make hard is a G…

          *RUNS

          • Commander Admiral Chief

            xD

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      I heard the one hack is a real son of a bitch.

      • Commander Admiral Chief

        He has scrodums though

  • Eish. This is so not cool

    • Pariah

      Best Jif ever!

      • Asian racist! It’s a Lif!

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          It’s okay is he says it, he’s Caucasian.

          • Rubbish. he’s totally Caucantsian!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            You can put a cauc in it!

          • Pariah

            Caucantsianring.

          • BWAHAHAHA! WIN!

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        • BWAHAHAHAH!

        • Commander Admiral Chief

          Lol

  • miaau

    I am Commander Shepard and I endorse this site, Lazygamer.net

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      You’ve sold out, man! And for what? A small discount on news & reviews?

      • miaau

        5% counts when you want to buy ALL the best guns for your comrades too.

        Sigh. Had to be done. I did turn the volume on the TV down, though, as it annoyed me to hear it the whole time

  • Ryanza

    This is the DRM world we live in.

    Don’t Support DRM.

  • HvR

    Hey indy boy good leview, fy dolla. Good leview looong time fy dolla

  • Lephys

    *gasp*…! Humans can be insincere for money?! Nooo! But… the internet! How is this possible?!

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    If only a huge consumer revolt existed? If only there was a group of like-minded gamers who fought against unethical and borderline criminal actions within the gaming industry and gaming media….

    G..A..M..E..R..G..A..T..E…cough cough!

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