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It’s Not Surprising That Bethesda Is Responding To Negative Starfield Reviews


“This is becoming industry standard”, “It makes a big difference when it comes to the algorithm”

Bethesda has been chastised for its responses to negative Starfield reviews, but according to some indie developers who do the same, this is quickly becoming standard practice in the industry.

Bethesda customer service has been responding to individual negative Starfield reviews on Steam for months. The responses come from a few Bethesda-affiliated accounts, all of which encourage players to try playing the game in different ways to get the most out of it, while also noting that future updates are on the way and, in some cases, insisting that the game isn’t boring.

“For those who aren’t familiar, this is becoming industry standard,” Xalavier Nelson Jr, Indie developer, Tweeted on X . “Because of how important of a role Steam rating play, and the proven ability to sometimes flip negative reviews based off of simply interacting with a user, it’s spreading. This is just a very big game doing it.”

“Yep, we’ve been doing this for a few years now,” Dillon Rogers of New Blood Interactive also mentioned. “A lot of people will flip their review if you reach out and let them know you’re working on the issue or helping them resolve a bug. It makes a *big* difference when it comes to the algorithm, actually.”

For about as long as Steam has allowed user ratings, it has had built-in mechanisms to allow developers to respond to individual reviews, and similar mechanisms have existed for ages on platforms with similar types of user reviews, such as Yelp. The difference with Bethesda’s Steam responses is that they appear to be telling players they’re wrong for not having fun, rather than directly responding to points of feedback.

“The issue isn’t replying – it’s the inauthentic tone and copy-pasted corporate responses,” as New Blood boss Dave Oshry mentions on X For a more palatable example, see the dev responses to negative reviews on New Blood’s Gloomwood. You’ll usually get a quick thank you for your feedback and a note that a specific issue will be addressed in an upcoming update.

Everyone is quick to point out that Bethesda’s particular implementation of this tactic isn’t quite hitting the mark. “So is it weird? Absolutely,” Nelson admits. “Will it continue to be used – and be used MORE – as Steam ratings play a role as the visible marker of a video game’s reputation? Absolutely.”

It’s important to note that Valve maintains that Steam ratings don’t really affect algorithm visibility. When Valve broke down the workings of the Steam search algorithms back in October, they said that games do not significantly affect their story visibility once they move past the “negative” rating and into the “mixed” or better category. However, as of right now, Starfield has a 69% rating, which is slightly below the 70% required to move from “mixed” to “mostly positive.”

I have a feeling that Bethesda will find blue text much more appealing than the current yellow warning, even if it has no discernible impact on the game’s algorithm placement.