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This topic is strongly related to Community Management.

Love it or hate it Steam reviews are a blessing and a curse for games and their developers and have some of the most significant impacts on conversation rate which consequently has the most significant impact on visibility.

Developing a great customer relationship and managing a high review score can make ... or if failed break even AAA games. As a small studio or indie you will actually have a slightly easier time here than established AAA titles. Most players are inclined to forgive more or even find charm in a scrappy small game.

1 screw up is worth 1000 accolades

This means 1 small mistake is more visible and more impactful than a large number of positive events. This is true for reviews, community sentiment and frankly in most aspects of life. Establishing and managing a positive community is the key to getting positive reviews, Getting positive reviews is key to a high conversion rate, high conversion rate is key to better visibility which is key to more traffic, sales, reviews and so forth.

First 10

Your game won't have a "rating" until it has its first 10 reviews. Earning those reviews as soon as possible is key to maintaining that early boost of visibility all new games get from Steam. Making sure those first 10 have the best chance to be positive is even more important. Community Management is the key to this, Developing your community leading up to launch, supporting them and developing a positive relationship helps to boost initial sales but more importantly, those engaged users are more likely to leave a review and it's more likely to be positive.

Review Response

In most cases, you as a developer shouldn't respond to reviews. You especially shouldn't respond to negative reviews critically. The most common "good advice" is to not respond at all, if you must such as to address a question your response should be limited to directing them to customer support/community resources.

Don't Do

Any sign of less-than-honest reviews and Valve is inclined to act harshly. They have removed games for less in the past and will not hesitate to nuke an indie. Remember you need them, they have no need of you at all and will simply not be bothered with any shady practices.

Buy Reviews

Do this and you will be caught, Valve will remove your game and block you as a publisher. Do not do this, do not partake of any such offer, and ensure your reviews are all legit and honest or suffer serious consequences.

Self Review

Do this and again you will be caught, Valve will remove your game and block you as a publisher. Do not use alternate accounts, and do not ask your friends and developers to review your game.

Harass Reviewers

Do not identify and harass reviewers even when they do incredibly horrible things like buy and play the game to completion and then refund it and leave a negative review about how great it was but it was too short.

These things happen, and you will need to find a way to deal with them in a professional and consumer-friendly manner. Learn more about Community Management in our guides.

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