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Update: Valve has confirmed that moving a release date for an unreleased game on Steam now requires developers to contact the company to make any changes, replacing the previous system that allowed devs to alter the listed date at will.
The release date on a game's Steam page is largely used to list games in the storefront's upcoming releases category, so this particular switch aims to avoid frustration and confusion relating to that ranking that emerged when developers frequently bumped back a game's planned release.
Specifically, Valve says that “this change was made in order to help guide developers that either intentionally or unintentionally changed their release dates multiple times, causing their game to show up on certain lists in a way that was confusing to players and frustrating for other developers.”
Valve notes that developers are still able to release their game ahead of, on, or after its listed date as long as the build has already passed Steam’s approval process.
Along with this policy change, Valve notes that it will now send out reminders via email to developers two weeks ahead of a game’s release to ensure that everything is still on track for that listed date.
Original story continues below:
Valve looks to have made a change to the way Steam handles release dates for upcoming games. According to a post spotted by PCGamesN, attempting to change the release date of an unreleased game on Steam now prompts developers to contact Valve to make the change a reality.
A screenshot of the message itself was posted to Reddit by a user that tells PCGamesN they work at an indie label, and the text shared notes that developers “should be pretty certain that your new date is the date you will release” before notifying Valve of the change.
The apparent change itself follows concerns from developers and publishers that some companies with games on Steam routinely change the listed release date of their unreleased games in order to gain visibility on steam’s Popular Upcoming list.
Previously, the system didn’t have any real limitations on how often developers could change that date so the policy shift highlighted in that Reddit post is quite a change. We've reached out to Valve in the meantime for more details on this additional step.
“Your intended release date is currently set as 'Sep 19, 2019'. If you need to make changes to this date, please contact Valve here with the reason for your new release date and what date you’d like it set as,” reads the message. “You should be pretty certain that your new date is the date you will release.”
The message goes on to note that, though the process for making release date changes has changed, developers still must manually set a game live on Steam, and can do so at any point “regardless of what your intended release date is set as.”