How to Promote Your Steam Games (in 2018) video game marketing
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How to Promote Your Steam Games (in 2018) video game marketing

September 30, 2019


Promoting your indie game on Steam is tough! In 2015, 2965 games were released on Steam. 2016 saw an increase to 4207 games The next increase was staggering! In 2017 alone 7,672 games were released on Steam that’s an average of 21 games per day on a 4x increase over the previous year! So no matter what day you launch your game? you’ll be up against at least 20 other games on your launch day and over a hundred games during your launch week! In this video we are going to tell you the steps you should follow to get the best chance of breaking through the noise on an increasingly crowded PC platform. We are Ask Gamedev, and this is How to get your video game discovered on Steam in 2018 So the first thing you need to know about Steam is that it’s a platform predominantly driven by sale periods. These sales often last many days and can include deep Discounts on a large portion of the steam catalogue as a developer what you need to know is that the majority of Steam titles see the bulk of their purchases occurring during these sales periods so it pays to focus a lot of your promotional efforts on optimizing your steam store page traffic to coincide with these sales periods Everyone knows the big sales like the steam summer sale and winter sales There’s also the autumn sale the Halloween sale and the lunar sale make sure you plan for each one more important than those sales Though are the week-long deals Why? Well for one while everyone usually Participates in the major sales only a limited number of Dev’s can participate in a week-long deal in a given week This is because you can only discount your game once every 60 days with the exception of major sales of course So while you’re up against almost everyone during a major sale you can expect to be only up against 250 to 500 other games during a week-long deal if you time your sales and discounts properly Also, unlike major sales you decide the sale date in the week-long deals so given the sales opportunities and the importance of timing your discounts we recommend planning out your whole year to maximize the amount of times you can go on sale this means predicting when you think major steam sales might occur and planning your week-long deals so that there is no overlap between a major sale and a week-long deal Doing a simple search can give you some indication of when steam has had major sales in the past This is a good starting point for planning your go forward sale calendar the next key point is to optimize your traffic during these valuable sales periods During these discount events getting your product listed on the front page of steam or other key screen spots can result in huge traffic Opportunities steam doesn’t share details on how their algorithm works in regards to which titles receive prime placement But it’s fair to say that preference will be given to titles that one convert eyeballs into sales And then to those sales into positive player reviews So to prepare for these sales opportunities make sure your steam page shows your game in the best light possible We recommend doing the following three things First off go through all of your steam user reviews and forum posts Make sure comments have been addressed in a way that reflects a high level of customer service We found that recent negative reviews to your game can have a significant negative effect on how steam places your game within their promotional space Responding to past reviews or comments shows that you’re attentive to your community and it also Humanizes your studio these comment responses shouldn’t take a lot of time and just might convince future responders to avoid saying anything negative The next thing we recommend is to post an update to your store page show that you’re alive Provide an update on the studio or development or cool things happening in the community around your game Consider using the game description section the about this game section or the media carousel elements of your store page has places to communicate What’s new and exciting? Potential buyers are more likely to purchase a game if they know that it’s actively supported Lastly think about releasing new features content or other game updates in advance of the sale so that visitors to your page will know that Your title is continually being upgraded Bonus points if a new content can be related to the theme of the sale Steam often has seasonally themed sales so if you want to capitalize on say the Halloween sale a good idea would be to early some Sort of Halloween themed content in your game shortly before the sale goes live a new feature may be that one thing that converts someone from a wish list to a purchase an Additional but not required strategy is to consider buying promotional ads on different platforms and sending traffic to your steam store page during the sale There have been some anecdotal reports that steam will provide improved Placement during sale periods to titles that bring a lot of external traffic to the steam platform steam store page analytics are quite basic and currently in 2018 You don’t have the ability to separate conversions by traffic source, but you may consider sending some additional traffic to your page regardless Another good strategy. Whether it’s in relation to a steam sale Or just in general is to make sure that your game thumbnail image is optimized this image Will show in steam promotional placements and search results it may seem like a small thing? But it’s hard for people to find out about your great game if they don’t want to click on the thumbnail that will take them To your store page best practices with thumbnails involved having a clear and legible image that grabs attention Consider doing some searches on Steam and see what kind of thumbnails stick out and hold your interest Look at options that stand out from other titles in your space Unfortunately steam doesn’t allow for very advanced A-B testing on their store page so your best bet to get hard A-B data on Your thumbnail options may be to take out ads on other platforms like Facebook or Google and see what images are better at getting clicks from a targeted gamer audience You should be able to get a decent response sample with only spending a small amount of money and knowing what thumbnail resonates is extremely valuable next is curator connect if you don’t know what Steam curators are check out the curator section on Steam the curators program is basically a Way for people to make a list of their favorite games and have that selection live on Steam anyone can become a Steam curator But the top curators are made of top influencers journalists and communities like totalbiscuit Pc gamer, Jesse Cox, the PC Master a subreddit and rock paper shotgun Getting your game on one of these curated lists can provide both short-term and long-term benefits in terms of visibility on Steam So what is curator connect well back in the day there wasn’t a way to contact curators directly? You’d have to dig around find their contact info and pitch them with curator connect You can send steam keys directly to curators through Steam Our recommendation is to connect with curators that have a sizable audience and that curate games similar to yours some curators even focus on a specific genre Start with them first keep in mind that with curator connect You can only connect with up to a maximum of 100 curators that number may sound like a lot But it’ll shrink fast use your opportunities wisely Our next tool is visibility rounds when you have a significant content update It’s a good idea to run a visibility round even better when overlapping with a sale When you launch a visibility round you’ll appear in the recently updated Section of the steam store and steam will also push additional impressions to players that have your game in their library or wishlist This can be great for getting lapse players back into your game promoting DLC You’ve just launched or converting people who have your game wish listed Each game gets five visibility rounds so use each one Wisely the best part is if your game sells well steam gives you additional visibility rounds to use To use your rounds see the marketing and visibility section of Steamworks Next let’s talk about community coupons One of the more overlooked tools at your disposal is community coupons When a player collects a set of steam cards they can craft them into a game badge game badges earn the player items like emoticons Backgrounds and coupons. coupons earned are for randomly selected titles, but exclude titles that the player already owns This one is fairly simple to do as no additional art is needed all you have to do is opt in and select the frequency and discount you can find the opt-in page in the game’s dashboard under community, and then general and Finally wish lists. We’ve mentioned wish lists when talking about some of the tools earlier But now we want to talk about building your wish list numbers Like we mentioned when you do things like go on sale or run a visibility round Steam targets the people who have your game on their wish list It’s extremely important to build a large wish list when people say start marketing early They should really be saying start building your wish list numbers early. Not only will this help you with launch They’ll give you a strong indicator of how much people like the game it will also help you with partner and/or publisher talks imagine going into a negotiation and saying we’re one year to launch and we already have 10,000 people that have wish listed our game and So here are three things that you should be doing pre launch to build your wish list numbers Number one create your steam page early when you announce make sure you have your steam page ready to go You can’t build a wish list without a steam listing Number two make sure all of your own channels push people to your steam page with an ask to wish list your game it should be a pinned post on Facebook and Twitter a regular section in your mailing list and above the fold on your games website and Finally make sure all of your pre-launch marketing efforts have a call to action of at our game to your steam wish list If you’re demoing at PAX, if you’re launching your first teaser trailer, if you’re doing an interview, if you’re working with streamers and influencers All of these initiatives should leave you to asking potential players to please wishlist your game on Steam Thanks for watching make sure to subscribe if you want to see more game dev content Do you have a game on Steam? What tools do you use to help promote your game when you’re looking for games to buy on Steam? How do you usually sort through the thousands of games and find the ones you like let us know in the comments? We’ll be back next week with an all-new ask game dev video

Only registered users can comment.

  1. How do you find games on Steam? What are your tips on how to get your game discovered on the Steam platform?

    For more Ask Gamedev content on this topic, watch 7 Indie Game Marketing Mistakes to Avoid! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nZ2dHtYNus

  2. I think to get noticed on steam the most important things are to have a great game thumbnail and an awesome video in the carousel at the top of your store page

  3. Hey i have a question. I am a game Developer. I released my game on steam. But how do you use the 5 visibility rounds? I looked at the marketing & visibility section of my game admin on steam. But i cant find a start round button no where. You also have to write a 100 character description and select a community announcement but where?? Great video btw

  4. My solution: I'm not releasing for Steam, instead for Virtual Reality marketplaces. Target platforms that are simply not over-saturated, platforms that are semi-saturated, and never compete with AAA titles with million dollar marketing budgets. My game will be done by about Christmas after 2 years of development, but after that the second thing is that I will spend 6 months promoting it before even releasing it, even though it's completely finished. From what I've learned after years of listening to gdc talks, online guides and youtubers, is that you need to seriously hype it far ahead of time before ever releasing it and get a crowd to it on day 1. That crowd will then escalate the game into being premiered hopefully in the front of stores. It of course is seemingly incumbent on the product actually being good…I think that's what beta testing is for…I used to chat with the guy who made Tale of Toast, and the idea with that one was to have a closed beta far before release to hype it up. Now I think it has like 1000 reviews on Steam. Not bad, although the game is free.

  5. Good and helpful tips, thanks for the video! We will use them in the development of our game HENTAI Arcade: Lustful Girls on Steam. You can check our page and evaluate it, it will be very interesting for us to listen to you opinion!

  6. Literally the most important component is the thumbnail, just a simple and clean logo with nice color scheme can attract people without any problems.

  7. Ask Game Dev or any random person who went through this dilema i have a question pls reply can you make a game without money without a team without a kickstarter without doing things solo releasing it for free will i still do taxes and pr stuff?

    Because im scared of making a game because of these things.

  8. One advice, game may be in early state of development but things pictures of from page screenshots should by in final quality. Same thing with trailer, should be short, good looking and with nice music

  9. You Mention that there are 100 curator connects is this monthly, yearly? I ask the question because I would like to contact curators that have a big audience and have experience with games of the same category thank you very much for your help in advance.

  10. Worth mentioning that if you can create a browser version, you can publish in on 20+ websites with API for in-app purchases.
    Here is one that also accepts games without browser version – https://play-best-games.com

    Submit your games for free!

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