The 2019 Steam Summer Sale‘s “Steam Grand Prix” minigame is causing users to delete indie games from their Steam wishlists. The game tasks users with completing daily tasks (winning a Team Fortress 2 match, for example) in order to earn points for one of five teams. The Grand Prix’s description contains this instruction, which appears to have had an unfortunate effect on indie developers: “Be sure to update your Wishlist […] as the very best drivers will be awarded their Most Wished For games throughout the event.”
This has apparently caused some confusion among users, who seem to think that deleting games off of their wishlists (i.e. “updating” them) will give them a better chance of being rewarded with a more desirable or expensive game. Raymond Doerr, owner of SixtyGig Games, was one of many independent game developers to tweet distressing statistics about users’ Steam wishlist deletions. “I’ve never once in 5 years seen more deletes than adds […] during a seasonal sale,” Doerr said.
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’s rules explain the Steam wishlist reward in more detail further down the page, clarifying that what matters is the order of users’ wishlists, not the games within them:
“Each day throughout the Grand Prix, random members of the top first, second and third place teams will receive the top item from their Steam Wishlist. Random members of the overall Grand Prix winning teams will be awarded up to three of the top items from their Steam Wishlist.”
Still, the wording caused confusion, and indie devs are left with a lower chance of those users remembering their games. Tom Vian of Snipperclips developer SFB Games shared a similar story to Doerr, reporting that this is the first time he’s seen this happen during a sale. Vian pointed out that his company won’t be too hurt by this since his games are also available on places like the Apple App Store and the Nintendo eShop, but there are other indie developers who aren’t so lucky. Here’s a whole thread of affected devs.
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
— Tom Vian (@SFBTom) June 27, 2019
Users can “update” their Steam wishlists without deleting games by selecting “sort by: your ranked order” in the dropdown menu above their wishlist. The Steam Summer Sale has some killer deals—including some on indie titles—but the appeal of a discount may not be enough to make up for Valve inadvertently encouraging users to remove smaller games from their radars.