Over the last three months, I realized that a lot of Hong Kong game development teams don’t actually now Steam very well, and don’t actually know what would help increase their game’s exposure on the platform.
This post will go over 5 main ways in which you can use Steam’s mechanisms to increase exposure. What I won’t go over is the normal things like SEO, manipulating your own data, or using certain keywords in your description etc. I’m sure you can find plenty of information on these methods on the internet.
Spending a bit of money to get a famous publisher is the best way to increase exposure. Why do I say that? There are more than 10 games being released on Steam everyday (yes, every single day), it is extremely easy for players to end up being some sort of crappy game if they just look through the newly released games. So, what do players do in order to avoid such cash grabs? They would look at the publishers. If a well-known publisher is willing to risk their own reputation to publish a game, it means that the game’s quality would definitely be of a certain standard. No renown publisher is willing to risk their reputation for a worthless game.
Let me use myself as an example. In the past, I would only buy games from certain publishers, and my favorite publisher was T-time Technology. I don’t believe I found a single T-time Technology game to be boring. I actually bought a lot of games I never heard of just because T-time Technology was willing to publish them.
This is why game developers should make good use of the close ties between players and publishers to advertise their games. There are actually game development teams in Hong Kong that have done this. An example would be Hell Warders’s devs, who asked PQube Games to publish their game.
The well-known Rabi-Rabi was also published and localized by Sekai Project, a very reputed publisher.
I believe most games know about Steam Curators. They work hand in hand with game developers. Well=known curators would review games, and all the Steam users who follow the curator would see the reommendation on Steam’s front page, just like how Facebook’s news feed is filled with things that the algorithm believes would interest you.
On a more practical level: Game developers can choose to give 5 or so game codes to around 100 curators. For the curators, they are generally happy to receive free games, since this is their ‘payment’. Meanwhile, they would also write reviews and recommend the game if they found it to be enjoyable.
In a way, this method of exposure is rather similar to finding publishers. It’s also getting someone else to help you advertise the game. What differentiates it from finding publishers is that curators can choose to recommend people not to buy the game. That’s why, if any curators are willing to recommend your game to other people, it will generally mean that the game is at least decent.
3. Early Access and Official Release – The Two Most Important Exposure Periods
If it’s possible, avoid official releasing your game outright. It’ll cause you to miss out on the exposure that is the start of Early Access.
Instead of explaining with words, let me show you the data from my own game
The two peaks correspond directly to the start of Early Access, and when I officially released the game (please disregard the period with no data bars, that’s because of a technical issue and not because there were 0 players).
Steam does actually have something called the “Update Visibility Rounds”, but it’s not very helpful.
4. Don’t underestimate the number of reviews and positive reviews
So, how valuable are reviews on Steam? According to statistics from SteamSpy, the number of reviews are, on average, 2% of your sales. This means that you only get 1 review for every 50 copies of the game sold. You can only imagine how hard it is to rack up the number of reviews for your game.
If that’s the case, then why is the number of reviews so important? That’s because the number of reviews directly influences the ratings of your game, which ranges from Overwhelmingly Negative to Overwhelmingly Positive. Steam tends to recommend Overwhelmingly Positive games to players, and the reason for that is simple – it will only fully back games which most players find good.
Here are the details to receive the Extremely Positive and Overwhelmingly Positive ratings:
Overwhelmingly Positive: Over 500 reviews, with over 95% of them being positive
Extremely Positive: Over 50 reviews, with over 80% of them being positive
5. Make Announcements whenever you have time, no matter how small the news is
]’m sure everyone knows that game developers can make announcements on their games’ store pages. But will too many announcements annoy the players? Absolutely not! The ones that find it annoying don’t actually like your game at all.
Putting out more announcements helps to show the players that the team is still actively trying to improve the game. Players tend to respect the developers more, and it will make it easier for them to remember your game (that’s because there are popup notifications whenever you post an announcements to remind the players who have Steam installed).
And what’s the point of making the players remember your game? Advertisement. They’ll only mention it to their friends if they actually remember it. Only then is there the possibility of them telling others about your game.
What’s more, Steam will actually separate your Regular Update announcements and major announcements. You don’t have to worry about too many players skipping out the important stuff at all
The players won’t get annoyed with one post a day.
Apart from the first point I mentioned, other methods of getting more exposure is essentially free. This is what separates Steam from Google Play and the Apple App Store.
Steam offers a lot of opportunities to determined developers without a lot of resources, that’s also why I generally prefer developing Steam games.
Now, although I mentioned a lot of ways to gain more exposure, I do hope that game developers will focus on quality above all else. After all, no matter how much money you earn, if you are unable to make a good game, then it’s hard for you to gain the respect of plkayers, or even yourself.
最近三個月發現，原來不少香港遊戲團隊對於 Steam 相當陌生，不知道 Steam 內部有些甚麼操作可以增加自己遊戲的曝光。
本文會針對「如何利用 Steam 獨有的機制去增加曝光」提出五大點，至於一些通用機制例如 SEO、刷數據、寫描述時塞關鍵字等等本文不會提及，請大家自行上網查。
因此，開發團隊可以善用發行商跟玩家的親密關係，去幫助自己推廣遊戲。香港也有團隊是這樣做的，例如《Hell Warders》找來了 PQube Games 幫忙發
知名遊戲《Rabi-Ribi》找來著名的黃油在地化大戶 Sekai Project 發行
相信大部分資深玩家，應該都知道 Steam 鑑賞家這檔事，他們跟遊戲團隊可說是互助互利的。知名的鑑賞家為遊戲寫評論，有追蹤該鑑賞家的玩家，就會像 Facebook news feed 一樣，在 Steam 首頁見到該遊戲的推薦。
３、Early Access 和 正式發行 是最重要的兩次曝光
如果可以的話，不要直接就正式發行遊戲，因為會錯過了 Early Access 初期的重要曝光。
兩個峰值各自是 Early Access 和 正式發行的時間 （中間斷開了是技術問題導致的，不是沒有玩家
其實 Steam 還有一個叫曝光回合的概念，但沒甚麼用
評論數在 Steam 上有多真貴呢？根據 SteamSpy 的統計，平均來說，評論數和銷量的比例約為 2%。即團隊賣出50分遊戲，才會得到1個評論。可想而知，獲取評論是極為困難的一件事。
那麼評論數為何如此重要呢？因為評論數會影響遊戲的分級。遊戲由壓倒性好評到劣評如潮，總共有六個分級。Steam 傾向把壓倒性好評的遊戲推薦給玩家，原因也是一樣：Steam 只敢為玩家普遍認為好的遊戲背書。
而且 Steam 會巧妙的將 定期更新 和 大型更新 的新聞分類開，因此不會說新聞太多了玩家不知哪些重要哪些不重要
除了第一點外，曝光基本上都是免費的，這跟 Google Play 和 App Store 很不同。
Steam 提供很多的機會給有心有力卻沒資源的開發者，這也是我傾向開發 Steam 遊戲的原因。