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Total War: Warhammer 3 is getting review bombed on Steam by Chinese players

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Total War: Warhammer 3 is the final game in Creative Assembly’s humie-bashing trilogy, and our own Fraser reckons it’s a cracker. It’s now launched and, unfortunately, has run into some issues in China. The game is currently being review-bombed by users in that territory, apparently for pretty petty reasons.

Industry analyst Daniel Ahmad was first to flag this behaviour, and says the main complaints are about the game’s marketing in the run-up to launch. This seems like an extraordinary reason to give a game a bad review. 

The mistakes that gamers called out are as follows:- Early access version was given to too many random streamers, both big and small.- These streamers knew nothing about the game or how to play, were generally disinterested.- These streamers spoiled parts of the game.February 17, 2022

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Ahmad went on to explain why the pre-release campaign had caused such annoyance for some.

“For previous [Total War] games, the influencer promotions were much more targeted, codes were given to streamers that enjoyed the game and certain parts of the game were locked off to prevent spoilers,” Ahmad writes. “Creative Assembly China staff said they were trying to reach a broader audience this time. While the overall strategy makes sense, generally speaking, it has upset some of the core fanbase that are now reacting negatively in the reviews for both Warhammer 2 and 3. Many are asking why disinterested streamers that spoiled the game got the codes, while they have to wait.”

I’ve been reading some of the reviews using machine translations, and the specific problem with streamers is that the marketing campaign targeted non-gamer influencers who were (understandably) rather clueless about the game. It also appears that their coverage wasn’t embargoed and so various spoilers for the games were broadcast over the past few weeks.

It’s sad to see a game get this kind of treatment because, essentially, some of the marketing was disliked. And it’s particularly unfortunate in the context of Creative Assembly, alongside Games Workshop, building-out the Cathay faction for this game, which has been in the lore for decades but never in the tabletop game. Cathay basically amounts to a Ming Dynasty army with a bunch of mythical Chinese creatures, and seems like a design decision made with an eye on the increasingly important Chinese market.

Total War: Warhammer 3 has been at the top of Steam China’s pre-order list for the last few weeks, and it appears to be these pre-orders which are unhappy with the marketing. Steam does tend to take action against this sort of behaviour, though at the time of writing the negative reviews remain. The game currently sits at mixed reviews in the West, though the grumbles in English reviews are mainly about launch bugs and the game’s performance.

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