The beta for Steam Reviews is up!

Steam users now have the ability to review the games they play, giving their opinions for others to take into account before they purchase their own copy.  The review program is an augmentation of the Recommendation system – where players were able to suggest games to their friends – but here you write up your own review for the games you have played through the Steam client, and anyone interested can read through them.  Any recommendations you have written in the past will already be converted to the new reviewing system, which you can revisit and edit if you wish.

Steam will not censor the reviews, so both negative and positive assessments will be posted for all to see.  In order to prevent trolling or abuse of the system, others can rate reviews that have been posted either favorably or unfavorably, as well as flag poor reviews as spam if necessary.  In addition to writing your own reviews and reading multiple reviews for a particular game, you will have the option to follow any writers that may be of interest to you.  These reviews will not take the place of the Metacritic scores that are currently representative of a game’s rating in Steam, and at present the user reviews do not have any sort of standardized scoring system that can pool everyone’s opinions into a rating that is easy to access.  However, Valve does plan on putting something like that into effect before the end of the beta.

One particular feature I find pretty cool is that when you read a review by a particular user, it will tell you how many hours they have played.  So ideally the reviews of those that have played the game longer will have more weight behind them than reviews from people that only played for an hour or so.  All in all, this seems like a worthwhile endeavor from Steam to allow more direct interaction within the player community in terms of recommending games to each other.  We should see soon enough whether this type of system will be more useful or beneficial to players than review websites are currently.  Take a look at the FAQ or look through the discussion boards for any more information on the reviewing system.