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Players protest Epic's Metro Exodus exclusive by review-bombing the series on Steam

The decision to make Metro Exodus an Epic Games Store exclusive, less than three weeks before its scheduled release date, came as a tremendous surprise, especially since it had been available for preorder on Steam for months prior to the announcement. The game is actually $10 cheaper on Epic for US customers, attributed by Deep Silver CEO Klemens Kundratitz to the store's "generous revenue terms," but that discount did not mollify gamers unhappy with the move to a different storefront. 

User reviews can't be posted to the Metro Exodus page on Steam, of course, and so gamers who feel wronged are turning their attention to where they can inflict pain: its Steam-based predecessors, Metro 2033 Redux and Metro: Last Light Redux. Both pages have been heavily review-bombed over the last couple of days, and are now showing "mostly negative" recent reviews—although their overall review ratings remains "very positive."   

Most of the negative reviews make no pretense about what's really behind them: They acknowledge that 2033 and Last Light are good games, but express displeasure with Epic's exclusivity. Threats of piracy in place of a planned purchase are also common, and creative ascii art, with Epic Games, Deep Silver, and/or other relevant parties inserted between certain raised digits, also appears popular.

The numbers are not small: Metro 2033 has received 891 bad reviews over January 28-30, while Last Light got 863. By way of comparison, 2033 has 3391 total negative reviews over its lifetime, including those of the last three days, while Last Light has 2457 negative reviews in total. That's over a span of more than four years: The Redux versions of 2033 and Last Light were released simultaneously in August 2014.

It's not the first time that negative reviews have been employed to protest something external to a game, but it's unusual because in this case the tactic comes in response to something that's not even happening on Steam. That's significant, because despite Epic's recent success with its storefront, Steam remains far and away the dominant digital marketplace for PC gaming. As more games are being sold off of Steam—Battle.net, Bethesda, Origin, and so forth—Steam's popularity could turn it into a dumping ground for gamer discontent. (Both Metro games are also available on GOG, but neither show any evidence of a similar backlash.)

The situation is also ironic. The Epic Games Store faces some fair criticism for lacking a number of very basic features, including user reviews: Epic founder Tim Sweeney said in December that they're coming but will be an opt-in option for developers, "because review bombing and other gaming-the-system is a real problem." 

Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.