How to Wishlist games on Steam and why it’s important

We’ve written before about why reviewing games on Steam can help out your favourite game studios, and today we’re talking Steam Wishlists, and why they’re also important.

Are Steam Wishlists ACTUALLY important to developers?

In some instances yes, definitely, and in other instances we think so, yeah.

This sounds complicated...

Like most companies that own game distribution platforms, Valve isn’t open about how their store’s various chart algorithms work, or what they’re looking for when choosing to promote titles.

When you look at the games that perform well in the charts or are featured in the Update News pop up, they tend to be games that either has a fair bit of a following already, or are from well-known publishers and developers with a dedicated following or a large ad budget. It’s likely that these games have high Wishlist numbers, but we can’t know this for sure and we don’t know if Valve uses these in relation to either the charts or Update News features, so it’s a bit of a black box.

We’ve heard completely conflicting reports on how Valve interprets this data too.

Some developers we’ve spoken to have claimed that a Valve rep told them that 5000 is the number of Wishlists needed for a game to be taken seriously when it comes to featuring on Steam. Others told us that the person they know at Valve said it was closer to 10,000. Others have claimed it’s much more like 50,000.

We’ve also been told that Valve doesn’t care about Wishlist numbers at all. And others that it’s the only metric Valve uses. And we’ve been told that Wishlists are part of a mix of data Valve uses.

So are Wishlists important when it comes to Valve providing featuring? “We think so, yeah”, but honestly we can’t know for sure.

But you said that Wishlists were “definitely” important!

They’re really important to us as a studio.

While Valve doesn’t tell you what it does with Wishlist data, it definitely encourages developers to use this feature of Steam. To quote their documentation, using the Wishlist feature “gives you a sense of the level of interest by potential customers and a way of notifying interested customers when your game releases or goes on discount”.

These two elements - gauging the interest of our titles, and directly notifying people interested in our products - help us make decisions about our games.

For example: so long as you’ve verified your e-mail account with Steam, and that you’ve opted-in to receive e-mails, Valve will send you a message whenever a game on your Steam Wishlist launches, or leaves Early Access.

This helps us to get as many people buying our games at launch, which definitely has an impact on how high we climb up the “New and Trending” and “Top Selling” charts, which in turn helps reach more potential customers who happen to see the game in these sections during this period.

So we’ll make decisions about our marketing activities ahead of a launch that are based (partly) on how effective those activities are at increasing our Wishlist numbers on Steam, so we can make that launch splash as big as possible.

Should we do another season of the podcast? Should we put money into Facebook advertising? Should we give out alpha access to our game? If something increases Steam Wishlist numbers, then it’s a good indicator that we should do it.

Valve will also e-mail you if a game on your Wishlist is currently discounted, and again this is great for us because people who are price sensitive can pop a game of ours on their Wishlist, and keep track of its price until it reaches the point where they’re happy to jump onboard.

It helps with other areas of our business too. If we have a game with a lot of Wishlists, it might be a good indicator that there are a number of people who are interested in buying it, but aren’t yet convinced it’s worth the asking price. We can use this data to help decide if the solution is to add more content to the game to increase the value proposition, or to rethink how we communicate the game’s value, or to simply put the game on sale.

Alright, I’m convinced, how do I add a game to my Wishlist?

It’s really easy. 

First, make sure you’re logged into Steam, either here via a web browser, or via Steam’s mobile app, or the Steam desktop client.

Second, navigate to the game you’d like to add to your Wishlist (like our upcoming Mars Horizon), and click the “Add to your wishlist” button that’s just beneath the screenshots carousel.

Third, double-check your e-mail preferences to ensure you’re receiving the right e-mails from Valve.

If you ever need any more help with this, Steam has a great guide all about it, and if you have any questions for us specifically, pop on over to our lovely little Discord.

Thanks for reading!

Auroch Digital

Marketing and Community Managment for Auroch Digital in Bristol, UK.

Find us on Stream or more regularly on @AurochDigital