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Industry Insights • How many daily wishlists should you get on Steam?

Industry Insights is a series of columns with tips and tricks on how to grow your game business written by Vicarious PR. Top image Gloomwood by Dillon RogersDavid Szymanski.

One of the most common questions I get asked by those seeking PR and marketing, is how many wishlists should they be acquiring per day. The easiest answer is certainly ‘as many as possible‘, but that doesn’t reach the heart of the issue. What threshold do developers really need to achieve in order for their game to be successful at launch? Though this poses even more questions (especially because expectations vary), it does make answering it a little easier.

Having worked with developers who are beginning life from a standing start as well as those who are already achieving thousands of wishlists per day, I’ve found that the approach for both often remains the same. Increase your daily average as much as possible through a combination of influencer and social media outreach, traditional print media and events.

50.000 is viable

It’s generally considered that 100 wishlists per day is very good. Over the space of a year this can develop into a considerable sum and, if complemented with events, strong social outreach and influencer engagement, reaching over 50,000 by the time you launch is certainly viable for even the smallest development studio. 

Games like Gloomwood have recently demonstrated the power of events, flexing the addition of 30,000 wishlists thanks to a combination of the PC Gaming Show, Next Fest and Summer Sale. 

Gamediscover have also backed this up with some number crunching on what thresholds certain games on Steam release at. As they’ve shown, only 40 games in May 2022 release with more than 20,000 Steam wishlists. Just 15 with over 50,000 wishlists. Considering almost 1,000 games release monthly, it’s clear that very few land as hugely followed titles. 

With Valve having also previously discussed a 50,000 benchmark for Steam Features to kick in, it should undoubtedly be your goal to reach this golden milestone. How can you achieve a daily average wishlist of 100 per day?

Wishlist traction

On a recent campaign for the small solo developed title Clanfolk, wishlist traction grew from around 30 per day to consistently over 1,000. The pace, ready for its launch in July, was more than enough to reach over 50,000 wishlists by the time it was available to buy.  

This was achieved by:

  • Fresh Key Art – This significantly increased page engagement, creating a much more enticing game when scrolling through Steam’s carousel.
  • Steam rework – New imagery, tags, features and screenshots ensured the page looked as good as possible. With the fresh key art, this further boosted page activity.
  • Unique Influencer Activation –  We gained the attention of a handful of key influencers by offering them a unique in-game item they could share with their viewers. This was hugely enticing and secured some huge influencers that resulted in a ripple effect with smaller influencers then requesting keys. 
  • New Trailer – Coming in at just under 60 seconds, with revised messaging to greater reflect the game and what it offered, the new trailer was utilized as a cornerstone of pitching to influencers and media.
  • Launch Date Announcement – A traditional media blast informing press of the game’s launch date, showcasing the new key art and trailer. 

Each of these steps when combined together resulted in the spike you see above, and the daily average increasing into the thousands. The end result? A publisher was so impressed with the traction that they signed the game, all with the intention of walking it through its launch window. 

Key art from Clanfolk.

Whether you’re just starting out on Steam, have had your product available to wishlist for some time, or are concerned about your lack of traction, it’s important to remain realistic about your expectations. Even in the smallest of windows, a concerted PR push can comfortably see you achieve tens of thousands of wishlists, but it will always remain challenging. Making incremental gains over a longer period of time is undoubtedly the most favorable option, while piggybacking onto events throughout the year.

Tips for increasing wishlists

Here’s some quick and easy tips on getting started in increasing your daily average wishlists.

Check Your Steam Page – It goes without saying that in order to maximize your wishlists, your Steam page should be as strong as possible. Fresh screenshots that look good, a snappy and engaging description, gifs within your page and eye-catching content ensures that those visiting are impressed by what’s on offer. Have the money for a professional key artist? Even better. Work with them to refine your capsules and if you’re unsure how to find one, head to ArtStation and approach many of the incredible freelancers.

Refine Your Messaging – I regularly see Steam pages with confusing messaging, odd Tags or weak descriptions. This can undermine what could be an exceptional game and can lead to high bounce rates on your page. Try to really drill down on what your game is, what it’s offering and what sort of player you want to attract. Lastly, don’t overdo it when it comes to tagging – too many and you’ll drown out your appearances on Steam’s Discovery queue. Wildermyth and Unpacking both offer effective pages, albeit with very different lengths.

Hit The Socials – Sapiens is a brilliant example of a small developer utilizing social media. Admittedly they lean more towards YouTube, having built a hugely passionate fan base over a long period of time. But the value is huge. Take the time to post across all social platforms (TikTok especially) while blogging regularly. Any and all insights into development are welcomed by players.

Sign Up To Events – There are dozens of events that span the year, but the most important is without doubt a Next Fest. Thousands of wishlists are up for grabs if you time it right and we’ve already shared our best advice for it. If you can, and similarly to Gloomwood above, try to time your Next Fest entry with your launch and/or other events around the same time for maximum impact.

Snowball Your Outreach – Taking all the above into account, try to ensure you drop everything you have around a key occasion. Taking Next Fest into consideration, stack your influencers, media outreach, new trailer and social output just before this event for maximum exposure. Posting anything sporadically simply won’t give you the return you need to massively impact your wishlists and most importantly, your daily averages.

Vicarious PR is an international video game PR and marketing agency run by former game journalists. They publish a series of columns on informative industry insights full of tips and tricks to grow your game business exclusively on PreMortem.Games.


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