Valve has written up a short blog post going over how their Steam Next Fest has improved things for developers, and it seems by a huge amount in some cases.
For users who haven't seen one before, Steam Next Fest is a regular event Steam now runs a few times a year, that gives developers some extra time in the spotlight. Developers can offer up limited-time demos, do livestreams and talks - all in the name of pulling in more wishlists and sales.
So how has it all been going? Very well overall, according to the latest data from Valve.
Compared with the events in 2020, there's been a huge jump in the amount of wishlists for developers. Wishlists are an essential marketing tool, since it's a way for developers to remind users their game has released or is on sale and hopefully convert them into actual sales. Valve notes that there's a few reasons why 2021 has done so much better, including a change to their rules that mean developers can only enter once per-game, so Valve thinks developers have taken a bit more time to be ready — makes sense.
The big question really though is how has the event increased sales for developers? Valve checked the data for games that have actually released since the festival, noting that the "median released game saw an increase of 500% in 'converting wishlists' made during Next Fest compared to converting wishlist additions made in the two weeks leading to Next Fest".
None of it is surprising. Marketing is hard, even harder each year with more games releasing and advertising space is limited. Player time and money is a limiting factor too, so having a big splash where you let users try out the game first direct from Steam is a great idea when previously a lot of events like this were only done in-person.