Tuesday 28 March 2006
Valve has introduced a commendable new feature to its popular content delivery system, Steam. Shoppers browsing the online Steam store will now find a review score (where available) handily placed for quick reference alongside game and price details.
Taken from metacritic.com, the scores represent the average grade given to a game by numerous web sites and magazines, reflecting a general consensus of critics rather than the opinion of a single review.
In addition to providing the calculated average review score, Steam also includes a link that will lead its customers to relevant review articles.
Valve's decision may not seem like a big deal, but it's a significant move and one that deserves to be applauded by gamers. After all, how many publishers would genuinely have sufficient faith in the quality of their products to include - entirely voluntarily - an average review score for each of their titles in an online shop?
With the digital distribution of games set to become an increasingly popular way to purchase games - look at the success of Xbox Live Arcade - publishers should consider doing the honourable thing; they should take advantage of the flexibility that online stores offer by providing casual browsers with professional and impartial reviews of their goods.
We'll be intrigued to see if others choose to follow Valve's example under their own - ahem - steam.