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The Surprising Reason Total War: Warhammer 3 Is Being Review Bombed

"Total War: Warhammer 3" has garnered some pretty impressive critical reviews since launching on Feb. 17. With new factions keeping players challenged and engaged in the fantastical strategy game, the trilogy's swan song can already be considered a sweeping success. However, the Steam reviews for "Total War: Warhammer 3" paint an entirely different picture of the game — at least in certain regions.

As spotted by gaming analyst Daniel Ahmad on Twitter, "Total War: Warhammer 3" is getting review bombed by many gamers from China. On the day of the game's release, 72% of reviews written in Chinese were negative, and reviews for the game on Feb. 18 were only 60% positive due to this influx of negative feedback.

It may come as a surprise to learn that many of the negative reviews had nothing to do with the quality of the game itself. In fact, "Total War" games have performed well with Chinese gamers in the past, and "Total War: Warhammer 3" seemed particularly set to please gamers with the highly-anticipated Cathay faction, which draws inspiration from Chinese lore. As it turns out, the problem many Chinese players have with "Total War: Warhammer 3" is largely based on a perilous promotion strategy.

Chinese gamers are frustrated with Creative Assembly's marketing strategy

As Ahmad explained on Twitter, three major marketing mistakes were made by the "Total War: Warhammer 3" team, which led Chinese gamers who were otherwise eager for the game to leave largely unfavorable reviews. The first problem was that the game was shared with "too many random streamers" during the early access period, as developer Creative Assembly China hoped to reach a broader audience. Whereas access was formerly only granted to a select few, this promotional effort completely backfired since the larger pool of streamers and influencers given review copies seemed to be completely unknowledgeable or uninterested in the game.

Perhaps the worst offense was the amount of spoilers that leaked as a result of this marketing strategy. While PC Gamer has called the review bombs "petty" and points out that Steam will likely remove the negative reviews, it makes sense that these spoilers ruffled the feathers of many players who had been waiting for the title's release. This is especially true if they had already put money down on "Total War: Warhammer 3" as a preorder, only to have it spoiled. It should be interesting to see how Steam responds, if at all, and what impact this fan feedback may have on future promotional efforts by Creative Assembly.