It looks like Steam Sales and Steam Next Fests are fated to be pals for the foreseeable future. Valve have announced that they'll be hosting yet another big game demo bonanza in early October, which is almost guaranteed to be followed by the yearly Steam Halloween Sale. The next Steam Next Fest is scheduled to kick off on October 1, once again bringing hundreds of demos for upcoming games and livestreams from their developers.
Steam's big demo bashes were still finding their cadence last year at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that they've picked up the Next Fest name, it seems that Valve have settled on a set of expectations we'll be seeing for each event going forward.
Over in their Partner portal they reiterate that this time around participating demos should be for unreleased games that are publicly "coming soon" and intended to be released between October 7, 2021 and May 1, 2022. They also won't be games that have been in a Next Fest before (unless they've still not launched a year past participating). The next Next Fest—after this next Next Fest—they confirm will be in February 2022.
As I've taken to saying about these things as they're coming up, Steam Next Fest can be a bit stressful. More so even than Steam Sales used to be back in the era of flash sales and timed deals and all. At least I can buy a game on mega sale for a fiver and tell myself I'll get around to it eventually. Next Fests are limited time demos, meaning the pressure is on to play right now before they're gone.
If you prefer taking a look at these things while the clock isn't ticking, perhaps you'd like to peruse some past favorites we've had before October creeps up on us all. Most of the demos likely aren't available anymore, mind, but some will have fully launched by now!
- June 2021's list of best Next Fest demos (I quite liked photography adventure Toem)
- February 2021's list of best Steam Festival demos (I thought Potioncraft was very rad)
- June 2020's list of best Steam Game Festival demos
That's plenty of light reading to tide you over until October, I imagine. Steam Next Fest kicks off again on October 1 and runs through October 7, 2021. You can catch the event page over on Steam.