Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds was hit by a massive wave of negative reviews on Steam over the weekend. They appear to be the result of a great number of unhappy players in China, who are upset about advertisements showing up in-game.
Steam’s new histogram feature was introduced in September as a hedge against so-called “review bombings,” where a large number of users log negative reviews over a short period of time. They’ve rapidly turned into a kind online billboard where angry players can advertise their rage against a developer. The chart for Battlegrounds shows more than 20,000 negative reviews in just the past few days.
The focus of player rage appears to be an advertisement for a Chinese virtual private network (VPN) service, which is showing up on the game’s home screen. Polygon has reached out to the developer for comment.
This is not the first time that Battlegrounds has included sponsored content on its menu screen. During an invitational tournament broadcast live from Gamescom in Germany, developers at Bluehole included the logo of its sponsor, ESL. Tags for ESL were also displayed on buildings in-game during that same time period.
Bluehole recently announced that they were spinning off a separate company, PUBG Corp, exclusively to work on Battlegrounds. They are also courting Chinese megacorp Tencent for investment.