Three times a year Steam throws an official Steam Next Fest where any game that is unreleased can participate. You can view the June 2022 Next Fest page here.
As with the previous Next Festivals, I put out the call to all developers who participated to share their data with me. They did!
For the June 2022 Steam Next Fest I collected data from 65 games out of the 1056 total games that participated in the festival. This is a sample size of 6.1% which (according to this calculator) gives this survey a 12% margin of error. So use this data however you want.
Here is a chart of every game I surveyed and how many wishlists they earned during the festival.
Gut level, how did this festival perform compared to past ones
I have been documenting the Steam Next Festivals since they started in 2020. So I have data from June 2020, June 2021, and now June 2022. Guess what? For the most part, they are getting better and better for developers.
Here are some basic stats
|Number of Games||Games surveyed||Average Wishlists||Wishlists earned|
|Wishlists earned Median||Wishlists earned 30th percentile||Median Impressions||Median Views|
So as you can see, despite competing with the most games on record (1056) the median games performed better than the previous festivals.
I did reach out to everyone who had a game in the top of the charts widget such as “Popular Upcoming” and “Most Wishlisted Upcoming Games” and “Daily Active Demo Players” so if you look at the “average” data, these numbers will trend a bit higher. This is why I included the 30th percentile listing to give you better context. The lowest performing games did better in 2021 than they did in 2022 but not by much.
I know indies like to complain and constantly think they are living through the “indie-pocalypse” but this is real reason for optimism. Let’s get excited!
How to get the most wishlists in a festival
The main question everyone has is how do you get to the top of the festival page so you can earn tens of thousands of wishlists?
The answer and the real prize of the festival is to appear in this front-page widget:
It is the most prominent, biggest, and most important widget of the festival. There are 3 tabs on it: “Popular Upcoming” “Most Wishlisted Upcoming Games” and “Daily Active Demo Players”
Each tab contains 12 games before having to click “show more.” The rankings on the widget are dynamic and the games moved around a lot throughout the festival depending on external marketing efforts such as streamers and press.
I managed to get data from 7 different games that at some point in the festival appeared in one within the top 12 spots on at least one tab of that visibility widget.
Note that the widget also appeared on the genre sub pages and had the same behavior but was filtered just to show the top games of that genre. I don’t know for sure how many games I surveyed appeared on those sub widgets.
So how many wishlists did the games that appeared on the main widget earn?
Answer: Somewhere between 43,098 and 15,059 wishlists during the festival period.
It is a big deal to get on that widget here is how….
How to get the most wishlists in a festival
So how in the world do you get into the prized spot? Based on the surveyed games I can approximate. In my survey I asked developers to share how many wishlists they had before the festival and the 7 days before the festival.
Most Wishlisted Upcoming Games
To be in the “Most Wishlisted Upcoming Games” your game must have hundreds of thousands of wishlists section. Here is a graph of this data.
The blue bars are wishlists per game earned during the festival. The red line is the total number of wishlists earned before the start of the festival. The games that had more, earned more. But not always. If you look closely you can see some anomalies. In the middle of the graph there are a number of games that comparatively had quite a few wishlists but didn’t do THAT great during the festival. My hunch there is that they are older wishlists and the game didn’t have the “velocity” that the other games did. We will talk about this in the next section…
So if you want to appear in the “Most Wishlisted” section, how many wishlists do you need?
Terra Invicta was #4 on the “most wishlisted” tab. They entered the festival with 252,343 wishlists.
Roots of Pacha which is #6 on the list and had 162,126 before the start of the festival.
I don’t know how many the #12 game in the list had, but to appear here, you should try to have somewhere around 150,000 wishlists before entering the festival. This is one reason I recommend you participate in the last possible Steam Next Fest before your launch.
Now that is a very hard number to get and not all games will reach that. There is another option …
Popular upcoming aka velocity
For this tab of the widget, Steam looks at your previous few weeks of wishlist activity and ranks all those games. I don’t know the time period that Steam looks at. Maybe it is the previous month or the previous 2 weeks, or maybe just the last 7 days. I asked people to share the last 7 days of wishlist earning activity before the start of the festival to see if I could figure it out.
Here is the resulting graph:
The blue bars again represent each game and how many wishlists they earned during the festival. The red line is the number of wishlists they earned in the week before the festival. As you can see the previous week velocity seems to be much more indicative of how well the game will do in the festival. There is not real anomalous data like you seen in the previous graph.
How many wishlists do you need in the week prior to appear on the “popular upcoming” tab of the widget?
I would say 3000
Roots of Pacha was the top earner and had 18,510 in the week before Steam Next Fest. However a game that earned 2190 wishlists in the week prior also managed to show up on the Popular Upcoming List. I did see a couple games that earned in the range of 2000 that didn’t show up in that list. So Steam might be looking at a time period that is longer than 7 days.
That is why I say to be safe, try for 3000 in your pre-festival week.
3000 is actually is quite possible compared to the 150,000 to get onto the “most wishlisted” section. A good streamer covering your game or another festival can easily get you a couple thousand wishlists. So do a big streamer outreach in the week or 2 before the Steam next fest. Try to get them to play your game. Then you can simultaneously run some ads on Facebook, Reddit, TikTok to make up any difference. In general I find that with paid ads you can get a wishlist per dollar. That might be a lot but the upside of getting on that list is around 20,000 wishlists.
In summary… featuring from the festival
So in general, if you want to earn in the range of 20,700 wishlists during the festival, here is how:
- Try to earn over 100,000+ wishlists before entering
- Try to get at least 3000 wishlists in the week before the festival.
What did people do marketing before
One of the questions I asked in the survey was “did you do any marketing before the festival?”
Here are actual quotes from the top games:
Sending an extended demo build to influencers (GmanLives, Icarusliv3s, Civvie11, JaredTheGamingdragon)Developer of Selaco (20,700 earned during the festival)
7 days before next fest started, we released the new Demo. We reached out to 9 youtubers who covered the old demo, and all except 1 made at least one video of the new demo, mostly on demo release day (so immediately).Developer of Dome Keeper (20,057 earned during the festival)
I was in 2 days of Dreamhack Beyond at the end of May which yielded about 600 WL. I also posted announcing my demo on twitter, 9gag and Reddit with smaller but some effect. Lastly, I created a contact list of 800 press and content creators and emailed all of them about my new demo just before Next Fest hit.Developer of We Who Are About To Die (12,461 earned during the festival)
Then I looked at what games that earned fewer wishlists. Here was their response when I asked if they did any marketing before the festival.
NoOne of the games
Nope, but we should have.One of the other games
Just a few twitter posts that the new demo is availableOne of the other games
There were some games in the survey that had done a PR push and streamer outreach and still earned only a couple hundred wishlists. But in general the top earning games had been doing a lot of marketing waaaay in advance of the festival. They had built up relationships with streamers and were reengaging streamers they already had contact with.
This runs counter to the old adage “A good game will market itself.”
The best games need as much marketing as they can to push them further. You must market your game.
What are people doing with the demo after the festival?
I asked developers what their plans were with the demo after the festival was over. Here were their responses.
The pie charts shows
- Unsure = 3.1% (was just that, they were still debating or would take a wait and see approach)
- No= 7.8%
- Temporary= 10.9% (this meant that they would keep it up for a couple more weeks just in case they had more streamer coverage come in late but would be taking it down after that. )
- Yes = 78.1%
Here is what some of the “Yes” people said behind their decision
Yes, my organic growth increased a lot so I suspect Steam really likes it in general. My organic growth was dead before the demo. Between Dreamhack and Next fest I saw an increase from 5-10 wishlists to 100 per day.Developer of We Who Are About To Die (12461 earned during the festival)
“Yes. Because people are still playing it and we get a lot more wishlists than before we had a demo available.”Developer of Fueled Up (9460 earned during the festival)
Yes, for influencers to organically pick it up. One already did!Anonymous developer of a game that earned 5675 wishlists during the festival
Yes because having some demo up – since mid August 2021 – has proved to be effective in the long term with growing a community. Only tangible data I have backing this claim is that there’s been a mild yet slowly rising influx of new people in the Discord server starting from late 2021: the majority of these new members come from links that have been put inside the demo in November 2021.Developer of Fech The Ferret (1738 earned during the festival)
“Yes, creators keep covering the game, new people keep discovering and playing it (10000+ avg daily users) and it keeps gaining wishlists (+7000 since the festival ended)”Developer of Brotato (15059 earned during the festival)
I disabled it. Then reenabled it as some people were protesting the disabling, since the demo does not disappear from the store and Steam did not highlight any announcement about the demo being time-limited (they should really make it a feature, not a manual trigger). I am participating in other events in a few weeks, so I’m keeping it up. I’ll decide whether to remove it later or not. Note that a Demo for my game seems to be working as it is really, really hard to explain how it works!Developer of dotAGE (3693 earned during the festival)
No. It’s a very early version of the game and does not represent the final product. It was mostly to get feedback on the basic mechanics and exposure.Anonymous Developer of a game that earned 427 wishlists
Steam shoppers really like Strategy and Simulators
Steam lets you pick what tabs your game appears under.
I cross referenced the median wishlists earned and the tabs they appeared under:
Data presented in the chart: Median wishlists per genre tab:
Steam shoppers really really like Strategy, Simulators, And RPGs. They don’t really like Puzzle, Platformers, and VR. It is really hard to market those games. Yes this is a limited sample of just 65 games but this genre preference is consistent with other genre data I have presented in this blog post about what Genres are popular in 2022 and this other blog post about genres they like.
In this chart I added a red line to show number of games in my survey for each genre. Note that if you add up all red data points it is more than 65, that is because every game can be tagged with multiple genres. Almost every game in existence is an action or adventure game. But it is good to see that more games are being made in the genres that are actually selling.
Data presented in the graphs of how many surveyed games appeared in the charts:
Just as another gut check, if you go to the live Steam Next Fest June 2022 page and browse that main widget, only 2 games are platformers and none of them are puzzle games:
If you are making a puzzle, platformer, or VR game and frustrated by the lack of wishlists it is not you (or anything you are not doing) it is the Steam audience. They just don’t don’t like those genres very much.
Steam shoppers really like Strategy and Simulators
So to sum up this research in an easy to digest set of actions:
- Make a strategy / simulation game
- Market it as hard as you can in the month before the festival. Try to clear 3000 wishlists earned in the week previous to the festival.
- Appear in the last possible festival before your launch (bonus if you are able to earn 150,000 or more wishlists)
In the first version of this blog post I had incorrectly listed the Summer 2021 Median wishlists. I was referencing an older version of the 2021 survey. The correct numbers are now reflected in the blog. Thank you Zorglub for finding the inconsistency.