It turns out that developers can manipulate the Popular Upcoming list on Steam to have their games always present there.
Mike Rose from No More Robots raised this issue on Twitter (below), saying that the way that Steam generates this list is simply by looking at the release date that a game has been given in the platform's CMS. There's one issue with this: according to Rose, developers can set any date, meaning that a game that has been out for ages can actually appear in the Popular Upcoming list.
Little thread about a topic I've seen affecting numerous devs, and I'm now feeling the effects of myself:— Mike Rose (@RaveofRavendale) March 5, 2019
The Popular Upcoming list on Steam is a great spot on the Steam front page for upcoming games to be noticed.
Unfortunately, it's a (sometimes accidentally) manipulated mess pic.twitter.com/hRcagA7Klx
Valve is apparently working on a solution to the situation, with the company's biz boss Tom Giardino saying on Twitter (below) that the Steam firm is frustrated about the situation, too. There's no word yet on what this fix will look like, as Giardino says it is a work in progress.
You have great timing. This was a big topic of discussion yesterday, and it frustrates us for the same reasons it frustrates you. But it's also super important that devs get to control their own release timing so we don't want to mess with that.— Tom Giardino (@tomgvalve) March 5, 2019
Discovery on Steam has become much more of an issue in the last few years. August 2017 saw Greenlight replaced by Steam Direct, resulting in a flood of new releases. This only got worse when Valve opened the Steam platform up entirely, meaning that anyone could release a game so long as it wasn't "illegal" or "straight-up trolling".
As an indication of the problem, almost 60 per cent of the close-to 30,000 games on Steam launched in the last two calendar years.