If you hopped on Steam to check out the Summer Sale only to be confused by the complex Steam Grand Prix mini-game at the core of it all, you definitely aren’t alone. The Grand Prix mini-game pits five teams of Steam users against each other in a race to the finish each day, but the rules surrounding things like using and earning boosts are hopelessly complicated. Not only that, but there are some developers who are noticing something very alarming as a direct result of this sale.
In Steam Grand Prix, Valve initially promised that random people in the top three teams each day would be rewarded their most wished-for game on their wishlist. The problem is that the company wasn’t very clear about what that meant. Confused by Valve’s phrasing, many users started removing games from their wishlists in the hopes of narrowing down the selection should they be chosen as one of the random winners.
As Kotaku UK notes, this is bad news for developers who rely on Steam wishlists as a tool to drive sales. It may not seem like the wishlist would be an integral part of the sales strategy for developers, but when a user adds a game to their wishlist, they’re notified by email and push notifications from the Steam app when it goes on sale. For indie developers, getting their games on as many wishlists as possible can lead to an influx of sales when the prices on those games drop.
So, when Steam users started removing games from their wishlists en masse to better their chances of getting a game they really wanted should they win the Steam Grand Prix promotion, it was naturally quite alarming for a number of developers. Check out the tweet embedded from SFB Games’ Tom Vian above to see just how quick the drop off has been. The good news, however, is that Valve is changing the way Steam Grand Prix works.
In a post to the Steam Blog, Valve explains that it has made numerous changes to Steam Grand Prix. These changes included improvements to the Driver’s Dash and Manual that will help clarify how to actually play the game, along with some nondescript back-end changes the help mitigate the snowball effect Team Corgi has used in the first few days to dominate the competition.
Steam has also made some changes to help compensate for imbalanced team sizes, and finally, it has introduced a new random drop called “Steal Boosts.” If you get this drop and your team is behind, you can use it to steal the leading team’s boosts and help your team close the gap, so that should help even things out across the teams further.
Valve also reiterates that there’s no need to remove games from your wishlist during Steam Grand Prix. “To clarify one point: if your team makes it to the podium and you are randomly chosen to win something off your Steam Wishlist, then we’ll grant you the top item,” Valve wrote. “Just move your favorite item to the top of your wishlist and you should be good to go. There’s no need to remove other items from your wishlist – keep them there so you’ll be notified when those items release or go on sale.”
So, hopefully all of these changes help players better understand the game and stop the wishlist bleed developers are seeing. Steam Grand Prix is certainly the most involved mini-game we’ve seen during these sales, so maybe next time, Valve will opt for something a little simpler? Time will tell, but for now, head over to Steam and see if it’s any easier to make sense of Grand Prix.