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As an unintentional side effect of Valve's latest sales event, the Steam Grand Prix, it seems a lot of users have begun cleaning out their Steam Wishlists.

Why? Well, it gives you the chance to win an item from your Steam Wishlist but only from the top three slots, it's not random. Valve's rules are pretty clear on how it all works but it still seems to have caused a lot of wishlist deletions. Removing games doesn't actually improve your chances, but likely will affect your future purchases of games you're no longer following as a result of it.

I don't think it's just that though, it's likely also a result of more people also now remembering that they've wishlisted a ton of games, some they're not likely to buy but either way it's not good news for smaller developers.

As an example of this, Raymond Doerr developer of Rise to Ruins (an awesome indie city-builder) shared this image on Twitter to show just how many are being removed:

You can obviously see how clear it is and that it started around the Summer Sale. They're not alone in this, tons of indie developers are seeing the exact same thing, my Twitter feed is absolutely full of developers talking about it over the last few days, some seem quite concerned by it. From what I've seen, it's quite normal to see a drop around these events but nothing like it is currently. Steam Wishlists can be one of the deciding factors on whether an upcoming game will see many sales and whether an already released game will continue to live on. When a lot of indie developers are already struggling, this is obviously not great.

Sounds like for many indie developers, the Steam sale hasn't been too kind to them with many seeing quite a drop compared to previous sales too. I spoke personally with David Stark, developer of Airships: Conquer the Skies, who said:

Looking at the stats for the first day of the sale of my game, Airships: Conquer the Skies, I noticed that for every copy sold, around three other people simply deleted the game from their wishlist. Clearly, some players are just taking the opportunity to tidy up their wishlists, but talking to other devs and players on Twitter, it seems that at least people are misunderstanding how the Grand Prix sale promotion works, and are deleting all but the most expensive games from their lists, in the hope of reaping the maximum reward. I really don't think this was Valve's intent, but it's unfortunate, especially as long-tail sales for games really rely on wishlists.

I also spoke with Tom Vian of SFB Games, developer of titles like Detective Grimoire and Haunt the House: Terrortown who allowed me to share their image too showing the same thing for their titles:

Certainly seems like something awry here.

Going further into it, J. Kyle Pittman, co-founder of Minor Key Games (Slayer Shock, Eldritch, Super Win The Game + more) also shared this image:

When I asked Pittman how that compared to previous years, keeping in mind they're another developer that's been through many years of sales, they said:

Previous summer sales have looked similar to the one from May. Some deletions but mostly purchases and additions. Last year’s holiday sale was about 50/50. This is the first time in history that deletions have exceeded purchases and additions by a wide margin.

Another who didn't want to be named, who I've followed for multiple years also said "I've never seen anything like it, we rely on Wishlists for so many reasons, it's a disaster". Plenty more like this, this one, also this one and so on. That's not many examples, sure, but keep in mind I follow thousands of developers (and getting permission to quote takes a long time in some cases) and not a single one has said anything good about what's happening. Every image I've seen, is showing the same issue—oh dear.

Another factor in all this, is that more people might possibly be heading over to the Epic Games Store. I know, I know, I've mentioned Epic Games and it's likely to cause a riot somewhere but stick with me a moment. Epic Games also only recently kicked off their own Mega Sale, so the timing of that likely hasn't helped things. Same with GOG and Humble Store, but Epic Games likely have a bigger pull than those two put together.

Tough times to be an indie game developer indeed. Being discovered on Steam seems like it's getting a lot tougher as time goes on, as thousands more are released on Steam each year, which may end up pushing out a lot of smaller developers. There's also been a ton of talk about Steam changing their algorithms, which has also reduced a lot of traffic to some developers.

Not only that, I've also seen numerous developers post about how Steam has been emailing wishlist sale notifications to a vastly smaller percentage of users than usual, in some cases around only 10% of emails have gone out compared to previous years.

Something to remember though, is that it's not Valve's job to market every game possible. Realistically, that's the job of the developer and publisher, Valve just provide the store and the tools to help a little along the way. However, when some of these tools start to work against them (even when unintentional) it's obviously not good.

Seems like developers are going to have to get a lot more creative somehow in pushing people towards their Steam pages. If any of it makes you think and you want to help, then perhaps next time you enjoy a game putting up a little review on Steam will help. Oh, and stop removing games from your wishlist when you don't need to.

Note: After publishing, Valve put out a post to clarify some elements of the game. They also clarified in that post, that you don't need to remove items. Along with this PSA on Twitter, it's clear Valve now knows it caused an issue.

Article was updated after publishing with more info.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Misc, Steam
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TheSHEEEP 27 Jun, 2019
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Too many fish in the sea, really.
I don't think there is much that could be done about it.
LibertyPaulM 27 Jun, 2019
I think too much is probably being read into this. Speaking purely for myself, I regularly delete things from my wishlist. Things that I add thinking it looks like something I may want to buy, but then decide isn't for me after looking more into the game. I suspect I am very far from alone in that. I don't give a damn about the grand prix event or any other such Steam gimmick. There are simply a lot of games that I am more interested in playing, it is a crowded market after all.


Last edited by LibertyPaulM on 27 June 2019 at 1:35 pm UTC
Liam Dawe 27 Jun, 2019
Quoting: LibertyPaulMI think too much is probably being read into this.
Not when every single developer I've spoken to, or seen talk about it in public, is showing that the problem started when the sale started and it's never happened like this before, not even close.
madpinger 27 Jun, 2019
Well, that's unfortunate. People don't know they can adjust the rank or what ?
eldaking 27 Jun, 2019
I am probably a nightmare for people tracking wishlists, as I am constantly adding and removing games and reordering. Right now I have Linux games (ranked by preference) on top, then DLC for games I already play, then Linux early access games, then Windows games I hope might either get a port or work with Steamplay (being on the wishlist signals interest in a Linux version, after all), then Windows early access games, then finally games I can't run on my current computer but would like to play one day. I was going to stop adding stuff once I got to 100, but with the sale I just shortened it a bit. :P

But regarding these events in particular: it seems like a really bad side effect of the event. There is the obvious "if we are gifting games should be something people would like" and the benign manipulation of "look at your wishlist, order it, use it". But if people are removing games, that is kind of bad for indies that don't appear as often to you so they might end up ignored.

Best case scenario, people were just reminded to organize their wishlists and the games removed were things they wouldn't be going to buy. Worst case scenario, they removed indie games they might otherwise buy to leave the more "valuable" AAA games to focus on prizes - or just because the event unwittingly calls attention to having a short wishlist with just the most wanted games.
EagleDelta 27 Jun, 2019
Quoting: liamdawe
Quoting: LibertyPaulMI think too much is probably being read into this.
Not when every single developer I've spoken to, or seen talk about it in public, is showing that the problem started when the sale started and it's never happened like this before, not even close.

But at the same time, correlation != causation. The simple fact is that people probably spend more time in the wishlist during sale time and that alone could be the cause of the increase in wishlist deletions. I recently removed a ton of games that I no longer had interest in from my wishlist. Had nothing to do with the sale, I just realized I had a lot of games I'll never get to even if I did buy them. I can't be the only one.
Schattenspiegel 27 Jun, 2019
Sure the Grand Prix event is somewhat stupid but if the they think that the impact of this extremely boooooring event is that great maybe they should take not how easy marketing can be.(it is badly presented, overly complicated, not in any way fun to do and offers a very slim chance to get something for free)

If they really want to have more exposure they should ask Valve to do the flashsales every few hours of the olden days again during they big sale events.
Since they stopped doing that you basically only scan the store once on day one for titles you would potentially like to purchase and leave somewhat bored to ponder over it for a few days, while back then you checked 2-3 times a day to see what's new and hot.

They also should ask for a fast way(one click) to search certain, freely definable prize ranges. That would get them way more exposure then the banner(and stream?! wtf?) cluttered front page.
Liam Dawe 27 Jun, 2019
Quoting: EagleDelta
Quoting: liamdawe
Quoting: LibertyPaulMI think too much is probably being read into this.
Not when every single developer I've spoken to, or seen talk about it in public, is showing that the problem started when the sale started and it's never happened like this before, not even close.

But at the same time, correlation != causation. The simple fact is that people probably spend more time in the wishlist during sale time and that alone could be the cause of the increase in wishlist deletions. I recently removed a ton of games that I no longer had interest in from my wishlist. Had nothing to do with the sale, I just realized I had a lot of games I'll never get to even if I did buy them. I can't be the only one.
I touched on that in the article actually. Sales always see a small drop but never like this, the entire point of the article.
x_wing 27 Jun, 2019
Steam is having a hard time trying to explain how their new sale event works. From my point of view is simple: the tried to give more money to devs by moving the sales trading card market into the games purchase market. Still, they make it way over complicated with the boost, fuel, etc. If they would have just made a token based event (similar to the Lunar sale), everything would have been easier for everyone.

By the way (and just in case some valve brain is reading), next time they should give as price the chance to get a full (or partial) refund of one of the games you bought during the sale (of course, return the most expensive one, valve ;)). Also, they should keep giving events point by visiting the discovery queue (as they always did), that's what helps a lot the indies.


Last edited by x_wing on 27 June 2019 at 2:27 pm UTC
Ehvis 27 Jun, 2019
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It was probably easy to predict that this would have an effect. I personally wouldn't start deleting stuff from my wishlist because the chance of winning something is just too small to worry about. But if Steam wanted to prevent that, they should have made it a random pick from the wishlist before the sale started so that any changes wouldn't have an effect. Probably a relatively small effort on their part.

Anyway, it being the top three was already a good solution of they actually made that very clear. Which they obviously haven't because I thought I read it properly and I still missed it.

Edit: On a practical note they seem to have butchered the team selection a bit. Looks like everybody (that is not me) is automatically selecting the top team.


Last edited by Ehvis on 27 June 2019 at 2:34 pm UTC
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