The best games on the Epic Games Store, chosen by players

Enlarge / “Your feedback is appreciated.”

Last week, Epic finally added a user rating system to its PC Game Store, nearly 3.5 years after the service originally launched. The first set of public leaderboards produced by this system are now live for hundreds of titles on the Epic Games Store (skip to the end of this article for a handy breakdown of some of the best-reviewed EGS games to date).

After sifting through these ratings a bit, some pros and cons of Epic’s unique approach to user ratings come to the fore. While EGS’s user rating system brings some interesting insights to online game stores, it still feels a bit half-baked, even after years of apparent work from Epic.

Bomb technology

The main difference in the Epic Games Store rating system is that it’s not open to just any player with an opinion. On platforms like Steam, anyone who has “logged in playtime” on a title can submit a user review. On EGS, on the other hand, Epic explains that “the rating system will ask random players, who have played a game for more than two hours, to give a rating on a five-point scale”.

These quick surveys, which are supplemented by polls that ask more specific questions about a game’s content, appear to players randomly after individual game sessions. Epic promises that “we won’t spam our players, and we probably won’t ask about every game or app they use.”

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Enlarge / East rocket league really better as a team?

Patrick Hallenbeck, senior product manager, told Ars that “user engagement with the new system has exceeded expectations in terms of the number of users and the frequency of responses provided. The quality and quantity of engagement are encouraging enough that we seek to increase the opportunity for users to participate and monitor users who attempt to abuse the system.”

On the plus side, the EGS user review system seems well-designed to “protect games from review bombardment and ensure that people assigning scores are genuine players of the games,” as Epic explains its goals.

It’s not a negligible improvement either. On Steam, Valve has gone to great lengths to combat a common issue where floods of “off-topic” reviews (i.e. those focused on “outside-game” issues) are messing up their engine. user recommendation. Valve’s efforts, which mix automated detection algorithms with decisions made by “a team of people at Valve”, have had mixed results.

On the other hand, Epic will probably never have to worry about detecting its own EGS review bombs. Limiting crits to a small random sample of active players means that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for those players to mount such a crit-bombing campaign.

Everything is awesome!

In contrast, Epic’s system also seems to cause significant score inflation. Of the roughly 480 EGS games we’ve been able to find a public user rating for so far, only four had an overall rating of less than 4 out of 5 stars. Osiris: new dawnthe lowest rated game we could find on the store, currently has a rating of 3.8/5.

So far, EGS public review scores have been heavily skewed towards the top of the five-star scale.
Enlarge / So far, EGS public review scores have been heavily skewed towards the top of the five-star scale.

To be fair, the majority of EGS’ nearly 1,450 listed games don’t yet have public ratings. Epic spokesperson Nick Chester said EGS titles “must receive a minimum threshold of notices before they begin displaying ratings publicly” and that Epic “fully expects[s] all products for these ratings to eventually show.”

It’s possible that EGS games with current public ratings will be the ones that gamers are most excited about, and currently unrated EGS games will eventually fill the lower end of the scale if and when they reach a critical mass of public ratings. players.

On the other hand, limiting reviews to active and consistent players could skew those reviews up the scale. This need not be a problem, as long as EGS users realize the nature of this bias and keep it in mind when comparing scores on a relative basis.

“We are constantly evaluating how players interact with our ratings and polls,” Chester said. “We have already made and will continue to make adjustments to the system to provide the best information for every game.

a bit generic

The other main problem with Epic Games Store user reviews is their lack of specificity. On Steam, users can add text to their thumbs up/thumbs down reviews, highlighting specific items they liked or disliked. This can help both customers and developers, who can learn what to focus on in future updates.

With EGS, on the other hand, player raters answer pre-populated survey questions about specific game elements, which are then distilled into descriptors that are listed alongside the user rating score. These descriptors are (so far) limited to extremely generic (and universally positive) feelings about the game: “incredible storytelling”; “various characters”; “obsessive gambling”; “big boss battles”; etc

See if you can guess which game these generic descriptors are applied to.
Enlarge / See if you can guess which game these generic descriptors are applied to.

These are good things to know for people browsing the store. But these types of descriptors lack the granularity you can get from browsing through a random sample of Steam reviews for most games.

And even if you want a quick list of highly rated EGS games with “diverse characters”, for example, EGS can’t help you. Currently, there’s no way to search the store (or filter results) based on review notes or descriptors (although smart Google might help a bit).

As a service, we combed through EGS to select the roughly 90 games that scored an “overall rating” of 4.9 or 4.8 on the store’s five-star scale (scores may have changed slightly since the initial collection of this data). You can find this exploded list on the next page, along with breakouts of some common content descriptors that users have provided for these games.

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