The gaming industry has witnessed an unprecedented surge in popularity over the past decade, with digital distribution platforms like Steam playing a pivotal role. Steam Next Fest, a celebration of upcoming games, has quickly become a highly anticipated event in the gaming community. However, as the event continues to grow in scale and participation, questions arise about its size and potential challenges. In this blog post, I will explore the evolution of Steam Next Fest, particularly 2023 edition, and discuss whether it has become too big for its own good.

The Rise of Steam Next Fest

Steam Next Fest emerged as an evolution of the former Steam Game Festival, which aimed to give developers a platform to showcase their upcoming projects. For developers, Steam Next Fest is an opportunity to get early feedback from players and build an audience for a future launch on Steam. The event offered gamers a chance to try out playable demos, watch trailers, and engage directly with developers too. With the rebranding to Next Fest, the event expanded its scope, encompassing a wider range of genres and highlighting an even larger selection of games. Steam typically hosts three editions of Steam Next Fest each year, which take place in February, June, and October.

The Positive Impact

The growth of Steam Next Fest has undoubtedly had positive effects. Developers now have a unique opportunity to generate excitement and gather valuable feedback from a massive audience. This exposure can lead to increased visibility, funding opportunities, and even potential collaborations. This is especially true for solo and small indie teams, such as Gray Bard Gaming, the developer for bio-Synthetica. Gamers, on the other hand, can explore a vast catalog of upcoming titles, discover hidden gems, and provide constructive feedback to help shape the development process. For instance, games in early access, like Cook Serve Forever, are open to feedback from players right now. Before the official release, they can implement agreeable feedback to maximize fun for everyone!

Challenges and Criticisms of Steam Next Fest 2023


As Steam Next Fest continues to expand, it faces challenges related to scalability and discoverability. With an increasing number of games participating, the sheer volume can be overwhelming for both developers and players. Ensuring that each game receives adequate attention becomes increasingly difficult. Some argue that the event’s immense size diminishes the visibility of individual titles. Potentially overshadowing smaller projects that could have otherwise garnered more attention in a smaller-scale event. For example, there are 480+ demos to explore in the June Fest alone. Only 7 days total for the event. That’s a shockingly high number to cover in a short amount of time. For most creators, it’s just not possible.

Maintaining Quality and Curation

With the vast number of games available during Steam Next Fest, maintaining quality and ensuring curation becomes crucial. Valve, the company behind Steam, has not implemented mechanisms to address these concerns yet. In fact, there was never a curation process. The screenshot below is pulled directly from the Steamworks Documentation resource for the event. What you see is a very basic list for eligibility and acceptance into the Steam Next Fest. Nonetheless, as the event grows, a question should be imposed on Steam about if they should now curate a selection process.

steam next fest 2023 documentation

Balancing Quantity and Quality

A delicate balance must be struck between quantity and quality during Steam Next Fest. While it is important to provide a platform for as many developers as possible, ensuring that the event remains accessible and manageable for both developers and players is equally vital. Sustaining a healthy mix of established developers, indie studios, and experimental projects can help maintain the event’s diversity and vibrancy. If you participated in the event, I’d actually love to hear your thoughts! Do you believe a selection process should be created? Or do you think there’s more than enough stew in the pot to feed both larger and smaller developers?

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