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Developers unhappy over Steam's date manipulation methods

Published: 19:47, 06 March 2019
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Several developers have voiced discontent over a method that relies on changing a game's launch date, which then conveniently allows games to stay in Steam's Popular Upcoming category. Valve have been made aware and are discussing it.

No More Robots founder Mike Rose wrote a lengthy Twitter post on the subject, alerting Valve and anyone else who'd listen that the system is rigged and basically malfunctioning, especially if you choose to play by the rules.

He explained that Steam's Popular Upcoming list cross-checks a game's release date and Wishlist numbers, listing games according to results. 

However, many developers have found a way to keep their games in the Popular Upcoming category constantly, simply by manipulating dates.

"Here's the thing: You can set *any* date for your game's release in the Steam backend, and it means nothing. You can set a date, and let it go by. Then you can set another date, and let it go by again. Setting this date has no meaning -- except for appearing in the Upcoming list", Rose wrote.

He offered the example of Steel Division 2, which uses this exact trick. Its Steam page correctly shows it launches on 04 April 2019 but another date is used in the backend, so as to bump its rating.

Granted, Rose conceded that his reasons are selfish, as his game launches in seven days yet can barely reach the second page of the Upcoming Popular list, but the issue is pretty genuine.

In fact, we'd agree with Rose that such exploits not only hurt upcoming games - they make consumers not care about them, especially once they're dominated by identical titles day in and day out. 

Rose is not alone in this, as he was joined by many of his colleagues but Valve are one of them too, as Tom Giardino replied, "You have great timing. 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."

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You can find the tweet in question .

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