Valve has revealed that Steam Next Fest wishlists help game developers increase sales, but research from GameDiscoverCo Newsletter founder Simon Carless shows that not all game devs reap the benefits.
Last month, Valve announced that the Fall Steam Next Fest was taking submissions and would be launching on October 1, 2021. It's been a couple weeks since then, and now Valve has some enticing data to share for game devs who are launching their titles within the next year.
A Steam Community announcement notes that the median increase in wishlists was +421% for the duration of the Steam Next Fest. This increase in gamers putting games on their wishlists persisted for several weeks afterward, holding at roughly a +15% increase compared to the average in the three weeks following the conclusion of Steam Next Fest.
Of course, Steam Next Fest wishlists don't count for much if people don't actually buy the game. Well, Valve has data for this metric, too — the median released game saw a 292% increase in wishlists that were converted to sales. That certainly sounds pretty promising for new and veteran game developers alike — but not everyone is a winner in the end.
Steam Next Fest Wishlists Are No Guarantee
GameDiscoverCo newsletter creator Simon Carless has been exploring the topic of wishlisting. While some games surely succeed, others will inevitably fail — and in one case, the amount of Steam Next Fest wishlists was no real guarantee of picking up sales.
"The vast majority of those wishlists that I got through the Festival and Steam’s [build-up] to launch were worthless and likely will never buy the game." – Power of Ten developer AJRDesign, Pew Times Three
To start, Carless highlighted how not all wishlist adds are the same a little less than a year ago; inorganic increases in wishlists due to a sudden spike in popularity — such as, say, a YouTuber playing the game or a special event like the Steam Next Fest — do not appear to have the same odds of converting to a sale as an "organic" wishlist add does.
More recently, however, Carless highlighted one of the more unfortunate case studies: Power of Ten, an indie game that launched back in June 2021. Things were looking good — there were over 10,000 wishlists and a post by the developer on Imgur had gone viral. These factors should have been a killer one-two punch for success on opening day. Instead, developer Pew Times Three only saw 1.9% of wishlists convert to sales.
"I was getting 600-900 wishlists per day," Pew Times Three developer AJRDesign explained. "I was frequently on the main festival page, hundreds of people played the demo. This got me to about 7-8k wishlists."
"The vast majority of those wishlists that I got through the Festival and Steam’s [build-up] to launch were worthless and likely will never buy the game," he explained. "I have heard from several folks that they played the demo during the festival and bought the game because of it, but I think those are honestly the exception[,] not the rule."
Ultimately, Steam Next Fest wishlists are good for developers, on average. While there is some promising data that shows an increase in overall sales, there will always be a mix of disappointing failures and breakout successes. For now, go ahead and add Power of Ten to your wishlist on Steam — and maybe consider buying this one if it tickles your fancy.
Do you think Steam Next Fest wishlists have a big impact on game sales? How many games do you have in your Steam wishlist? Let us know in the comments below!