Steam’s front page has a handful of lists for broadly relevant games, including ‘new and trending,’ ‘top selling,’ and ‘popular upcoming.’ It seems the latter is a point of concern. Mike Rose – indie developer behind Hypnospace Outlaw – calls it a “(sometimes accidentally) manipulated mess,” and Valve is already looking to solve the problem.
The popular upcoming tab lists a set of upcoming games curated by wishlist numbers, as Rose notes on Twitter. They’re ordered by release date, except ‘release date’ doesn’t really matter. Developers can put any date they want into Steam’s back-end, and it doesn’t matter if that matches the release date shown on the store page – just for placement on the upcoming list.
Developers can manipulate that system to make sure their games are on top of the popular upcoming tab regardless of when those titles are coming out. Well-meaning developers still clog up the list by forgetting to change the back-end date after a delay. With so many games out on Steam every day, prominent placement on the front page can make a huge difference in how many people hear about that game.
Valve’s Tom Giardino chimed into Rose’s thread to say that it’s a point of concern within Valve, too. “This was a big topic of discussion yesterday, and it frustrates us for the same reasons it frustrates you. But it’s also super important that devs get to control their own release timing so we don’t want to mess with that.”
Giardino is reticent to commit to any timetable for a fix, but says Valve is “trying to fix it in a way that makes upcoming releases more valuable without hurting games that wish to shift their release date.”
Read more: Stay current on upcoming PC games
Exactly what that fix will end up looking like remain to be seen, but for now you shouldn’t rely on the upcoming games list to tell you what games are actually coming soon.