[Hi, I’m Simon Carless, and you’re reading the Game Discoverability Now! newsletter, a regular look at how people find - and buy - your video games. Or don’t. You may know me from helping to run GDC & the Independent Games Festival, and advising indie publisher No More Robots, or from my other newsletter Video Game Deep Cuts.]
Welcome to a special ‘guest post’ edition of Game Discoverability Now!. After seeing Megan Fox (SkateBIRD) talk about why the Spring version of the Steam Game Festival was really good for her wishlist numbers, I was interested in doing something on it.
And when Lars Doucet also noted that Valve’s latest Steamworks roundup includes info on the event being received positively, I really wanted to write something up on it. Here’s Valve’s overview:
“The Steam Game Festival made its initial debut in December, running in tandem with the Game Awards. At the end of March, that event took a giant step forward with the Spring Edition, a virtual expo highlighting games originally set to demo at the Indie MEGABOOTH, The MIX, and Day of the Devs showcases during GDC.
This was an opportunity to provide extra visibility for small studios impacted by recent event cancellations as well as giving players access to dozens of free demos for upcoming and newly released games.
The Spring Festival saw the event grow to include more titles, more demos, and just short of 3M unique “attendees.” This resulted in over 559,000 demo activations, and over 385,000 total wishlist additions for games featured in the event.”
Then this morning, I was DM-ed by Luciano Iurino from Spanish dev The Troglobytes, who have Hyperparasite, their “relentless twin-stick shooter/roguelite set in the roaring ‘80s”, currently on Steam Early Access, out fully on April 3rd, and featured in the Festival.
Here’s his overview of what happened to Hyperparasite during the event, and I’ll pop in for some comments at the end. Take it away, Luciano….
Our game was showcased on Steam's Game Festival event
We also had a playable, time-limited demo
This brought a lot of eyeballs to our game, which is close to its release window
Wishlists and followers numbers increased by large amounts (compared to previous events, discounts, etc.)
Several months ago, in 2019, we submitted our game, HyperParasite, for Indie MEGABOOTH. In January 2020 we received an email from them, telling us that we would be part of their official GDC 2020 selection. This would grant us a booth at GDC, some press coverage and a few more cool bonuses.
This was really good news, since after one full year of Early Access, we were ready to release HyperParasite on April, 3rd on all platforms (Steam, DRM-free, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and Xbox One). GDC would have been March 16th to 20th, so...perfect timing!
Bringing the game to such a big convention and having basically free press/media coverage would really get some eyeballs on our game, much more than anything we could have done with our own (limited) resources.
As everyone knows by now, GDC was cancelled/postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the amazing Indie MEGABOOTH guys got us covered, and managed to work together with Valve to showcase all the games that would have been part of their GDC selection. [SIMON’S NOTE: Shout-out to Geoff Keighley for co-ordinating this all behind the scenes, too!]
This transitioned in what is called Steam Game Festival – Spring Edition (the first edition being the one that Valve held back in December), with dozens of games from Indie MEGABOOTH, MIX and others.
One thing Valve asked us was if we wanted to make a limited time HyperParasite demo available for players during the event. We quickly debated about this internally and eventually decided to do it (not all games featured in the Steam Game Festival had demos).
What follows is a breakdown of the numbers genreated by the event.
Besides being one click away on the Steam front page (more about this later), the event had a really good coverage from all media outlets, both big and small.
Lots of websites, portals and news feeds talked about the event, and more importantly, all of them listed the games featured in the event by name, some of them even directly linking to each game's store page.
A lot of small streamers downloaded the demos and played for their communities. Some of them had a stream marathon, playing all demos consecutively, and tweeted about it. This brought the games to the attention of even more people.
We were lucky enough to have HyperParasite's demo played by Northernlion, with nearly 42,000 views on the video.
The Game Festival banner was in a prominent spot on Steam's front page for 5 days. Clicking on it, you directly went to the event's page, with all the featured games listed and organized by provenance (i.e., Indie MEGABOOTH, MIX, etc.).
At the top of this page, there was a slideshow with all the live streams from featured games. We opted to loop pre-recorded video streaming on our store page, with great results.
For the duration of the event, we had an average of 1000 concurrent viewers on our store page streaming, with a peak on the first day of 2590.
A little bit of numbers from Marketing & Visibility: Store & Steam Platform Traffic Breakdown (Most Recent Week):
Marketing & Visibility: Store & Steam Platform Traffic Breakdown
Click-Thru Rate: 15.01%
Visits (By Non-Owners): 72,185
Of course, the vast majority of the traffic comes from Steam itself, while 2,596 visits came from External Websites (~3.58%).
Our Demo has been downloaded 7,434 times.
Maximum daily active users: 1,103
Daily avg daily active users: 504
The event brought us +2,810 wishlists and +27 wishlist-to-purchase conversions.
Wishlists additions, deletions and purchases/activations
We read a lot of articles recently about how important the Followers number is for a game on Steam, so we were really happy to see this number going from 700 (pre-event) to 1100+.
The sales number is far from impressive (~100), but there are a couple key factors that may have played a role in this:
the game is in Early Access (besides some specific genres that work really good in EA on Steam, we usually see all others kinda struggling a bit. We can't absolutely complain about what 1 full year of EA brought us in terms of sales, visibility, awareness, etc.)
the event was really close to our launch window (April 3rd), so we think that most people just wanted to wait for release day (thus taking advantage of the launch discount of 33%, which we already announced one month ago) That being said, 100 people couldn't wait for release and/or didn't care about the discount, so bought the game right away, which, if you ask us, is a good sign.
[Additional notes from Simon: I asked Luciano whether he thought the Northernlion stream’s wishlists or sales could be differentiated from the Festival’s wishlists/sales. He said it was tricky to tell, but there was a slight sales increase compared to the rest of the sale on the day Northernlion streamed.
I also asked if the Festival promotion would have been just as good if they hadn’t provided a demo. He noted he felt like a lot (relatively!) of people played the demo compared to Hyperparasite’s Kickstarter campaign and “we were getting a lot of messages from people who played the demo” - so it was a net positive in his view.
We can’t A/B test for demo or not, but looks like it was likely a good idea! And thanks to Luciano once more for the guest post. Back soon!]