Typically, when thumbs-down ratings pour in and Steam’s chart-based review-bomb-detection alarms start ringing, it means a developer’s done something to earn users’ ire on a massive scale. Assassin’s Creed Unity, however, is experiencing the opposite: a positive review bomb.
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Earlier this week, Ubisoft contributed €500,000, or about $564,775, to the Notre-Dame restoration effort in the wake of a fire that severely damaged the historic cathedral. The publisher also made Assassin’s Creed Unity, which features a recreation of Notre-Dame, free to download on PC for a week. As a result, Steam users have plastered the game’s review section with positive reviews containing messages of support for Notre-Dame. Since April 16, Unity has received nearly 800 new reviews, the vast majority of them positive.
“Thanks Ubisoft & Assassin’s Creed Unity for giving us an opportunity to appreciate what Notre Dame used to be,” reads one review. “God bless France.”
“I hope this game will be able to help the repair of Notre-Dame de Paris,” reads another.
“THANKS UPLAY FOR ITS CONTRIBUTIONS TO PROTECTION OF NOTRE-DAME DE IN ANOTHER WAY,” reads a third in all-caps, because Steam reviews. “AND IT’S ALSO A STRIKE TO PEOPLE THAT WE MAY NEED TO KEEP DIGITAL DATA OF SOME HISTORICAL SITES. LEST IT DISAPPEAR ONE DAY.”
Some people are even joking about the prospect of Notre-Dame being restored using Unity’s digital recreation.
“Builder A: Are we really going to build a tomb under the pool?” said a Steam reviewer. “Builder B: Yeah, I think so. That’s what Ubi’s drawing says anyway.”
At this point, the Notre-Dame reconstruction effort has pulled in over $1 billion, much of which has come from wealthy donors. Despite broad appreciation for the international show of solidarity, the unprecedented influx of contributions has also prompted questions about why wealthy companies and billionaires haven’t chipped in on this scale to assist with humanitarian crises and other major incidents—especially ones like the Flint water crisis where victims are people instead of, well, old buildings.
Still, there’s something to be said for the preservation of beloved monuments and spaces, even if it’s digital. If nothing else, Assassin’s Creed Unity—a 2014 game few people were talking about anymore before this week—has made that abundantly clear. Theoretically, some reviews that are just messages of support for Notre-Dame could be considered “off-topic” by Valve’s new anti-review bomb standards, but I have hunch they’ll be given a pass in this case.