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Discoverability: It's not just for App Stores anymore

The rush back to PC gaming is creating the same discoverability issues seen on app stores. Here's why you should be concerned and simple steps to stay ahead.

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One of the points I touched on in my GDC Next talk was how developers (and publishers) need to be aware of the growing list of released titles on Steam. This is leading to the same discoverability issues developers have faced on app stores, and since 92% of all PC games are digital this should be a key concern for anyone publishing their games online.

Taking a quick look at the numbers we can see that of the 3,700 games on Steam, over 1,300 of these have been released this year.

Take that in ... with several months left in 2014 (the article was from September) we have already seen Steam's active catalog grow by over 33% from ... ever.  This trend isn't slowing either; it's accelerating.  As of May of this year we've seen more games release on Steam than in all of 2013.

What does this mean?  Steam has over 100 million users and is distributed in over 25 languages.  The actual market share is hard to pin down but developers have reported between 50 and 80 percent of their total digital sales globally have come from Steam.  Your new release won't be on the front page for very long, and it really doesn't matter as the default setting for the store is a list of the "Top Selling" versus the newly released.

Companies simply have to put as much time and care into crafting their digital distribution pages as they have for web sites and app stores.  SEO, traditional game marketing, cross marketing, and social awareness are all more important than ever when releasing a new game.  This is also causing a resurgence in licensing as companies want to maximize their marketing spend and licensors are seeing the positive impact of GOOD games.

Plan ahead to maximize your sales:

  • "We'll release on Steam and be ok" is just as bad an idea as the marketing strategy of "Apple will feature us."
  • Don't single source. Get your title on as many stores as possible.
  • Localize!  Steam is in 25 languages and localized versions of your game can yield as much as 40% more sales.


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