The Steam Summer Sale is upon us, and as in past years Valve has turned its sale into something of a meta game. Players can compete in an in-store event called the Steam Grand Prix, but indie devs say that this competition has had the unintended consequence of getting their games deleted from people's wishlists. Here's why.
It began when indie games developer Raymond Doerr asked another indie dev whether they've seen a higher-than-normal deletion rate for their games on people's Steam wishlists. It turns out this was a problem that extended beyond just Doerr, as several indie developers began sharing their game's irregularly high deletion rate from Steam wishlists.
Indie game makers like No More Robots director Mike Rose told Ars Technica that they lost 1,500 wishlists within the first 24 hours of the Steam Summer Sale. "Usually you lose, like, 20 in a day."
Hey @GreyAlien - Are your games seeing an abnormally high amount of wishlist deletions? I and 4 other devs all are seeing some pretty strange stats. I've never once in 5 years seen more deletes than adds/P&A during a seasonal sale. I've always left a sale with a net increase. pic.twitter.com/v1OY4MUQW5— Raymond Doerr (@RaymondDoerr) June 26, 2019
The reason seems to have to do with the rules of the Steam Grand Prix. This year's game lets players choose a specific racecar team–either a rabbit, tortoise, corgi, cockatiel, or pig–and earn points to help boost their performance in the race. Points can be earned by completing achievements or making Steam purchases.
Valve says that if your team finishes in the top three, then customers will be selected at random to receive the top ranked item from their Steam wishlist.
Based on some users online, there appears to have been a misunderstanding with the wording Valve used. Whereas Valve says the top ranked item from a wishlist will be given away for free, Steam users seem to have understood this to mean that a game from their wishlist will be awarded to them at random.
So, in order to maximize the chances of getting a more expensive, or triple-A game from their Steam wishlist, customers seem to be deleting indie games to better the odds.
Valve has acknowledged this confusion in a new blog post published today that clarifies its wording. "If your team makes it to the podium and you are randomly chosen to win something off your Steam Wishlist, then we'll grant you the top item.. Just move your favorite item to the top of your wishlist and you should be good to go."
PSA! You don't need to remove games from your Steam wishlist in order to win your Top Wishlisted Game during the Steam Summer Sale - just move your favorite game to the top of your wishlist and you're good to go! 2019 Steam Summer Sale: https://t.co/4TuWeBVo1O pic.twitter.com/hNrMnTSzcY— Steam (@steam_games) June 27, 2019
Valve even added a visual that teaches users how to move a game to the top of their wishlist without needing to delete other games. "There's no need to remove other items from your wishlist–keep them there so you'll be notified when those items release or go on sale."
It's unclear how Steam's recent clarification will affect indie developers, some of whom say the damage is already done. But it's better that Steam realized the problem and tried to remedy it, rather then let it continue through the duration of the Summer Sale which ends on July 9.