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News video games 06 March 2019, 13:17

author: Milosz Szubert

Here's How Devs Manipulate Release Dates on Steam

Mike Rose, the founder of No More Robots, has noticed a peculiar unfair practice adopted by some developers on Steam. Here's the trick - a fake release date is being set, and changed, to keep the title on top of the recommended upcoming titles list.

Game developers are doing their best to promote their upcoming works. Unfortunately, sometimes it is connected with somewhat unethical tricks. One of them was pointed out by Mike Rose, founder of the studio No More Robots, known among others as the publisher of Not Tonight. On his Twitter we can read that there is a certain gap on Steam. As you probably know, on the home page of the platform there is a tab called "Popular upcoming titles". It features productions most often placed on user wish lists, arranged according to the release date specified by the creators. And this is where the problem arises - the developers can type in any date they want.

For example, Studio X sets the release date of its title Y on Steam to March 8. This way, it has a chance to get to the first page of the "Popular upcoming titles" list, which equals extra promotion. When the set day arrives, the developer can change it to, let's say March 11 and thus continue to be listed among the highlighted items. The trick lasts until the real releases, which can be seen on the product card on Steam. One company known to use the trick is Eugen Systems with its Steel Division 2.

Heres How Devs Manipulate Release Dates on Steam - picture #1
The list of upcoming popular titles may be misleading.

An incorrect release date of a game may not necessarily be the result of an evil scheme of the creators. Sometimes they enter an initial date for a release and simply forget to change it when their plan does not work. This does not change the fact, however, that both in the first and the second of the described cases, the ones are suffering are the developers who have already established a specific release date of their work, which due to errors and manipulations is being thrown to distant spots on the "Popular upcoming titles" list, which does not give them a chance for additional promotion. In addition, this discourages the players themselves from checking which positions have been highlighted.

The problem was confirmed by Tom Giardino from Valve. According to him, talks are in progress on the solution of the error. However, he did not want to reveal any details and make any promises, because the matter is quite delicate. Valve does not want to over-interfere with the ability of creators to control the release dates of their own games.

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