Last night, indie developers and publishers were up in arms at Valve’s complicated and poorly-explained Steam Summer Sale Grand Prix event, which erroneously encouraged customers to delete games from their Steam wishlists.
Valve’s Grand Prix is a kind of store-based mini-game where customers can win stuff from their wishlist. When entering, Valve encouraged users to take a look at their wishlists and ensure the games they wanted to win were in there.
But the mechanics for which games people might win were not well explained. Assuming it would be a random game from their wishlist, people taking part went in and pruned their listings to favour games they’d save the most money getting free – AAA games – which meant clearing out any indie games they may have had their eye on.
Delving into the small print, Valve had specified winners would get whichever game was placed at the top of their wishlist for free – so there was no need for anyone to narrow down the potential prize pool. But this detail was buried, something Valve subsequently admitted and apologised for.
Last night I was contacted by some of those impacted by the mass wishlist deletions, as a growing list of others shared their concerns via Twitter.
“Losing potentially thousands of wishlists over the course of a two week sale would be hugely damaging for many indie devs, who more often than not have spent many hours and good chunks of their marketing budgets building up their wishlists over a period of months/years,” one indie publisher told me.
“Wishlist numbers are crucial for these devs. Losing huge chunks of their potential customers could be the difference between success and failure for them.”
Numerous indie publishers chimed in on social media, too:
Hey @steam_games, loads of our indie clients are seeing 1000s of wishlist deletions due to the Steam Grand Prix – any chance you could look into it? Especially for small teams that’s a huge hit to take.
— Thomas.gif ?? (@Olima) June 27, 2019
To be fair to Valve, it was quick to react. A blog post last night confirmed he company had already improved how the Grand Prix was explained and how fair it was to customers. It also reiterated that there was no need to delist anything from wishlists.
“We designed something pretty complicated with a whole bunch of numbers and rules and recognise we should’ve been more clear,” Valve said in a blog post last night. “We want to apologise for the confusion that this has caused, and also apologise for the broken mechanics that have led to an unbalanced event.
“To clarify one point: 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 favourite item to the top of your wishlist and you should be good to go. 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.”
And here’s a tweet from the official Steam account, showing how you can move a Final Fantasy game to the top of your wishlist and not delete indie games like Astroneer and My Friend Pedro in the process:
? 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!
— Steam (@steam_games) June 27, 2019
If you did remove anything from your wishlist yesterday to take part in the sale, do take a moment to add it back.