Steam’s Popular Upcoming list exploited by delinquent devs

Mike Rose, founder of No More Robots, recently took to Twitter to express his disappointment with Steam’s Popular Upcoming games list and how easy it is to manipulate for nefarious gain.

The Popular Upcoming list, on Steam, is a numbered list populated in an order governed by a game’s release date and wishlist numbers. Games that are about to be released, and have been added to the most wishlists, are at the top of the list, meaning more people will see them and potentially decide to buy them.

However, the release date is set by the developers in the backend and is meaningless, except for how it is used to determine the game’s position in the Popular Upcoming list. The actual release date, displayed on the game’s Steam page, can be completely different.

Rose suggests that the list can be either accidentally or maliciously manipulated when developers forget to update the release date or continuously bump the date back, so it becomes perpetually “upcoming”. This means legitimate, popular upcoming games end up at the bottom of the list or banished to the abyssal plain that is the next page. It doesn’t seem very fair and Tom Giardino, a member of Valve’s business team, tends to agree, suggesting that it “was a big topic of discussion” for them.

How will they correct this injustice while still allowing developers to change their release date for legitimate reasons? Initiating some sort of cap on the number of times you can change the date? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.