Steam’s 2019 summer sale kicked off earlier this week, and this time around, Valve wasn’t just content with giving you some healthy discounts. But while the sale is a great opportunity for some developers to give their sales a boost, indie devs are suggesting that this year, almost the exact opposite is happening.
In a tweet this morning, indie developer Raymond Doerr asked fellow dev Jake Birkett whether his games were “seeing an abnormally high amount of wishlist deletions.” Doerr said that since the sale started, he and a number of other developers had seen a rapid spike in the number of times their games were being deleted from people’s Steam wishlists.
Doerr did say that “I always see higher deletes in day 1 and 2 of a seasonal sale,” but that the number of adds and purchases have always made up the difference. This time however, he shared a graph which showed that since the start of the sale, the total number of times his game had been removed from user wishlists was almost 200 more than the number of new additions.
Several other indie studios chimed in with similar findings. While developers have acknowledged that wishlist numbers tend to fluctuate wildly during sales as users pay greater attention to their lists, blame for the spike in deletions is being directed at this year’s Steam Grand Prix event.
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 Grand Prix meta-game asks users to join a specific team, and grants each one a capacity of 100 points, which are then earned by completing quests and claiming achievements. The more money you spend, the more points you have the capacity to earn, and the more points you earn, the further you’ll help your team progress in the race. Once the race is over, Valve says that “drivers from the top three finishers […] will be selected at random to receive the top ranked item from their Steam wishlist.”
The perception among several developers is that this message has been misunderstood, and that some users think they have a chance of winning a game from their wishlist at random should they be chosen in the draw at the end of the race. In response to that original Twitter thread, user AScribbledEagle said that they and several of their friends had deleted multiple low-cost games from their wishlists – rather than putting their most-desired game at the top of the list – in an attempt to ensure they would win triple-A titles instead.
I did exactly this and a load of my mates did too
— me and withnail (@AScribbledEagle) June 27, 2019
While wishlists do not equate directly to sales, they do provide updates on releases and discounts. While not confirmed by Valve, many developers also believe that wishlists are tied to discoverability on Steam.
We’ve reached out to Valve and several indie developers for more information about the impact of the Grand Prix event, and we’ll update this story when we learn more.