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Indies on Steam concerned Summer Sale promotion is hurting Wishlisting

Steam Grand Prix promotion confusion may be causing numerous users to remove smaller, cheaper games from Wishlists

A number of indie developers have taken to Twitter to express frustration at a Steam Summer Sale promotion that appears to be hurting the Wishlist numbers for their games, which they predict will in turn harm sales.

The Steam Grand Prix promotion began with the Steam Summer Sale on Tuesday this week. Aside from the usual deep discounts on numerous games, the promotion lets users earn points for making purchases during the event. Those points can then be used to "boost" a chosen team, with random members of the teams with the most points at the end of each day and at the end of the sale receiving free games from their Steam Wishlists.

However, there appears to be some confusion as to which games players will receive. Today, Steam published a tweet assuring users that they do not have to remove games from their Wishlists - just put the game they want at the very top-ranked position. It also published a blog post with similar clarity. The wording on the website is less specific, saying, "Be sure to update your Wishlist before you put the pedal to the metal, as the very best drivers will be awarded their Most Wished For games throughout the event."

Many indie developers with games on Steam have said they have seen their Wishlist numbers drop sharply since the sale began, presumably because users are removing smaller, cheaper games from their Wishlists in hopes of receiving a more expensive one for free. Here's one example from Rise to Ruins developer Raymond Doerr:

"This is heartbreaking," wrote Wildfire developer Dan Hindes. "Wishlists play a huge part in potential store placement once you finally launch. We've put so much work into being so open and transparent with development to build that wishlist over years and it's melting away in a graph, for a sale."

Snipperclips developer Tom Vian also tweeted his numbers, saying, "I know plenty of folks for whom Steam is their main/only source of income, and it looks like from other charts I've seen posted today that everyone is being hit by the same relative percentages. So this is super rough for them, wishlist numbers are really important."

Kitsune Games founder Emma Maassen also shared her Wishlist actions graph with, following a tweet reinforcing the importance of Wishlisting to indies: "Anyway in case people are confused, Valve's stupid little minigame can get people a game off their wishlist for free. Because people think it's random people are delisting small indie games from their wishlists en masse. Wishlists are vital to performance on Steam."

Image credit: Emma Maassen has reached out to Valve for comment.

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Rebekah Valentine: Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.
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