Steam user reviews are, on a lot of occasions, hot garbage. That hasn't stopped Valve from trying to separate the wheat from the chaff (or the wheat and chaff from Farming Simulator meme jokes, as it were), though. The latest step? The introduction of a "pre-release" review badge, mostly for Evolve. OK, at this point almost entirely for Evolve.
I wouldn't even be calling attention to it if it weren't one of the most strangely specific quiet changes Valve makes to Steam I've seen in a while. Steam has had an "early access review" badge for a while now, which makes sense. It's important to distinguish when exactly a review was written, lest someone act on outdated information. Honestly, Valve could get even more specific about it—emphasize which update the review was written about, etc—and I'd think it was a good move.
On Steam, however, Early Access already applies to games in alpha and beta—aka, pre-release.
Here's an Early Access badge, attached to a review of Besiege:
And here's a pre-release one, something I can so far only find attached to Evolve:
So why create another badge for games that aren't out yet when Early Access should, seemingly, do the job just fine? Well, I don't know this for sure, but I'm guessing it's because Evolve and some other triple-A games haven't done the standard Early Access cycle. Instead they had brief limited-time betas, after which they closed up shop until either a) another limited beta or b) release.
So it makes sense, but I can imagine it being kinda confusing to outsiders. Mousing over each badge offers an explanation... kinda, but not enough to really differentiate the terminology. Oh well. More information is rarely a bad thing, even if it's kinda arbitrarily designated. Plus it appears to have a second, secret function: uncovering time travelers (as spotted by Youbar):
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