A bug was introduced back in October in Steam that led to reduced traffic to many indie games’ store pages, which obviously had a big impact on sales numbers. Even though the bug was attended to, the effects have been long-lasting as the algorithm was showing larger, more popular games rather than finding something closer to your likes. Valve has now explained what happened.
“On October 5th, we deployed some code to Steam that changed the defaults for our search queries to factor in sales and wishlist activity more than before. This change was meant to fix an issue where customers would search for a game, but that game would be much lower in the search results than other less relevant games.”
“This change had the unintended side-effect of de-boosting tags in the ‘More Like This’ section on a game’s store page. What that meant was that instead of seeing products similar to the game, you saw games that shared just one tag in common, but were effectively the most popular games on Steam. This isn’t how we wanted that feature to work.”
Valve says that the problem has been solved, but many indie devs say that their numbers are still low, well after the fix was implemented. Valve commented on this: “The fact is, traffic is going to shift whenever we do this work; it may go up or it may go down for any individual product. However, not all impressions and views are equal.”