Steam “Popular Upcoming” List Exploit Called Out by Developers

Steam “Popular Upcoming” List Exploit Called Out by Developers

Hypnospace Outlaw developer No More Robots discovered an exploit on Steam that allows people to take advantage of the "Popular Upcoming" list.

Tons of games release for Valve’s popular PC gaming storefront Steam every day; consequently, this means that it can sometimes be hard to get noticed. One thing many smaller developers rely on is the “Popular Upcoming” tab, which is supposed to highlight cool new titles that will be releasing on Steam soon so people can wishlist or at least be cognizant of them. Unfortunately, a developer pointed out yesterday how this system can be easily exploited by developers, which actually led to a response from Valve.

The developer in question is Mike Rose, Founder of indie developer No More Robots. Yesterday, he put out a lengthy Twitter thread that went into great detail about what exactly this exploit is. He begun his thread by explaining how the Popular Upcoming tab is supposed to work by taking both release date and wishlist numbers into account.

Mike then points out the Steam actually gives developers the ability to list any date they want for release on Steam’s backend. As a result, games can set their backend date to consistently be the next day while the actual release date shows up on the store page. By doing this, games with high wishlist numbers can ensure that they will appear on this tab of Steam instead of letting the algorithm chose what to show. The games will still show, even if the release date is missed, causing even more problems for games that could use the spotlight.

Clearly, this is an exploit that benefits games that are already well recognized by the public instead of the fledgling indies that could actually benefit from it. This Twitter thread was able to gain a bit of traction in the game development scene, with many other developers also agreed that it was an issue. The thread eventually elicited a response from Tom Giardino, a member of Valve’s Business Team. He made it clear that this was an issue Valve was looking to resolve, but was hesitant to give to give and ETA for when exactly it will be fixed.

Hopefully, Valve can find a way to fix this exploit soon so a pivotal system on the platform isn’t inherently flawed and hurting those who don’t play the system. If you are interested in No More Robots’ latest endeavors, they will be releasing Hypnospace Outlaw on March 12.