One of the consequences of the digital age and storefronts that allow people to easily leave reviews of games on product pages is the review bomb. Something happens with a title that angers people interested in it, and they retaliate by visiting the page to leave their thoughts. Sometimes, these are insightful. Others, well, can be less so. But, it might make people wonder if these could be effective. What could a review bomb do for those around it and impacted?
The first thing people might wonder is if review bombing helps other people investigating the game. This… is a mixed bag. If someone is trying to learn about the game, developer, or publisher and their issues, then the right reviews from a review bombing could. Some of them can be well-written and cover important topics that someone should know before buying. But then, there are also the reviews that don’t make any points beyond, “Don’t buy this! It’s bad!”
But, review bombing could also be frustrating to people who aren’t involved and just want a game. They might be looking for insight from people who have played. When people review bomb, you don’t know if they have actual experience with the title or if the reason they are review bombing has anything to do with that game. (It could have to do with business practices or issues with companies.) It can be an annoyance and harmful for people who want to know more about a title.
What about retailers? Well, review bombing is another double-edged sword. Yes, it brings people to the site. Those who want to write these reviews will stop by, and then maybe they’ll also buy something after. Those who are curious and want to see what is going on will arrive to gawk, and maybe they will also decide to buy something while they are there. But, it will eventually fall to these companies to remove them for the sake of professionalism or have employees tidy things up so only relevant-to-that-game-experience reviews remain.
As for the developers and publishers, a review bombing could honestly have more of a positive effect than a negative one. As the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Even if people will be temporarily incensed about a behavior or business decision, this kind of spectacle is getting eyes on a game. It might even be considered newsworthy by some sites. There’ll be a greater awareness of the companies and titles. So, even if people are mad about something like, say, Borderlands 3 or Untitled Goose Game being timed Epic Games Store exclusives, the positive hype far outweighs any review bombing.
There’s one group of people review bombing does help: the people who feel the need to leave the reviews. While these reviews can be either enlightening or misleading, varying from situation to situation, they likely do leave the people who wrote them feeling a little bit better about the situation. Venting tends to be cathartic, and leaving your opinion somewhere does let you get out something that might be bothering you. You might even get the feeling that what you said made a difference.
How much review bombing does is a mixed bag. The people leaving the reviews may feel better and more accomplished. Some people might be enlightened as to issues they actually care about. It’ll make more work for some distributors. But, when it comes to companies, they could benefit from the actual attention. As for those just interested in the game and not caring about issues or scandals, it could just be annoying. It is definitely an issue that could use some addressing.