Many developers have noticed a surge in positive reviews for their games during the new Steam sale. This is due to a special badge that players can win after completing certain tasks at the annual award event.

Exploring "Steam Awards Nominations Effect": why Potion Craft saw spike in positive reviews during Autumn Sale

The trend was spotted by Mikhail Chuprakov, founder and CEO of niceplay games. In a post on social media, he shared data about a huge spike in positive user reviews for Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator, calling it the “Steam Awards Nominations Effect.”

Steam Autumn Sale 2023 began on November 21, with users also being able to nominate their favorite games in various categories (Game of the Year, Labor of Love, Better with Friends, etc.). In addition, people can get the Steam Awards Nomination Committee Badge by completing four tasks, including reviewing a game they have nominated.

The Labor of Love category aside, only games that were launched on Steam after the previous year’s Autumn Sale are eligible for nominations. Valve also shows users titles they played this year, helping them through the nomination process.

To get the maximum level 4 badge (and earn a total of 100XP), players have to write or update their review for one of the games. And as the Potion Craft team learned from their own experience, this can significantly improve the game’s rating on Steam (at least, for a short period of time).

According to Chuprakov, 82% of the roughly 300 recent reviews (posted in the last 30 days) for Potion Craft were positive before the start of the Autumn Sale and the Steam Awards 2023. Since November 21, the rating has jumped to 97% (Overwhelmingly Positive) based on over 3,600 reviews.

“During this event, we already have almost the same rate of getting new reviews as we had during the Early Access release and the launch of version 1.0,” Chuprakov noted.

User review graph for Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator

The developer added that while the 82% rating was not indicative due to a small number of reviews, most of which were posted by players who are “waiting for new updates and complaining about slow development,” the recent surge proves that most users don’t care about writing reviews at all — they just need a good reason to do so (e.g. a reward from Steam).

“Perhaps, Valve needs to look deeper into this trend and give rewards for game reviews more often? Because I’m also often too lazy to write reviews, but sometimes I force myself to do it. And cases like this benefit everyone: developers, Steam, and players,” Chuprakov said.

Developed by indie studio niceplay games and published by tinyBuild, Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator initially launched in Early Access in September 2021. The game has sold over 100,000 copies in just three days, and version 1.0 was released in December 2022.

Potion Craft is not the only game to experience the so-called “Steam Awards Nominations Effect.” Reverse city builder Terra Nil has received hundreds of new positive reviews since November 21, with its recent rating reaching 95%.

User review graph for Terra Nil

Other examples include Remnant II (from 83% positive reviews in the last 30 days before the Autumn Sale to 91%), Sons of the Forest (from 90% to 96%), Hogwarts Legacy (from 87% to 95%), Viewfinder (86% to 97%), Sea of Stars (from 89% to 95%), and more.

So the Autumn Sale seems like a great event for developers to get a surge in positive reviews, especially from players who love the game but didn’t have enough motivation to rate it.

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