[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.]
Welcome to the latest Tales From Discoverabilityland (this word is still very made-up), the latest in a series of posts that round up interesting data or trends around the game discovery space.
One important thing I’m putting up top - we’re still surveying your Steam launch wishlists & first-week sales until this Friday, May 22nd. We have over 30 responses (great!), but I’m particularly hoping some of the small or mid-sized publishers on this newsletter will participate further. It’s 100% anonymous, so go for it!
But I’m making a conscious effort to start this newsletter’s content not talking about Steam or PC game sales, haha. Like so:
The Hidden Power Of The Switch Demo!
We’re leading off this week with a great tip from Future Friends’ Thomas Reisenegger, as follows: “A demo of your game means extra visibility in [the] crowded Switch eShop: 1. FREE DEMO icon in listings, stands out 2. "Software with demo" is one of [the] few search filters 3. Only ≈300 games in this category (≈3500 total)…” All of which is a really good point - see his pic of Switch games with demo below:
But it was the final point that definitely made me stand up and take notice: “4. Demo players get newsletter when game on sale.” I was not aware of this. Given that ‘this game is discounted’ emails are a very strong driver of Steam game sales, this may be a really useful tool.
On Twitter, Chris O’Shea provided a screenshot of one of the newsletters in question, advertising a discount on Ape Out:
Now of course, you do need to actually make and submit a demo. And you need to make sure it’s attractive and doesn’t give too much of the game away. But maybe more of you should consider a demo to stand out in the increasingly crowded & discount-heavy Switch eShop?
Also, good news: the sole subject of this week’s other newsletter - coming out on Friday - is going to be Switch game sales. So please expect it!
(BTW, the image in the header of this week’s post is from Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story, which apparently has quite an extensive demo on the Switch eShop. And is actually about making games, heh.)
SteamDB gets neat new features!
For whatever reason, I haven’t talked about SteamDB that much on this newsletter. But it’s one of the oldest and best sources on Steam info, since it efficiently grabs & categorizes a whole bunch of information from the Steam back end. (It’s good for checking how often games have been in sales and for what % off, for example.)
But there’s two new-ish things I wanted to point out. As follows. Firstly as regards to the ‘Steam upcoming games’ list on SteamDB, Kris from Toge Productions notes:
Reminder: your Steam followers - which are public to all - are not necessarily a perfect reflection of wishlists, but are often 1/6th to 1/10th of the wishlist total. So it’s very useful indicative information.
Secondly, a note from the main SteamDB dev Pavel Djundik:
Experimental feature on @SteamDB: It is now possible to align games to their release date when comparing charts.— Pavel Djundik (@thexpaw) May 11, 2020
Useful to compare how fast the player base falls off.https://t.co/EsiO9uq2XV pic.twitter.com/Vi6WCcxyZi
Since ‘long tail’ and continued player base is one of the most important things out there, this is indeed super useful.
Although I will note that in my experience with No More Robots, player count & sales don’t correlate super precisely. (Because some games are more replayable than others!) But again - it’s broadly indicative, not predictive.
Lots Of Other Goodness…
It wouldn’t be a ‘Tales From Discoverabilityland’ round-up without a whole buncha paragraphs of other useful stuff that people have sent me (or I dug up on my own). So here we go:
The latest Clark Tank game discovery round-up from Brace Yourself’s Ryan Clark is now up on YouTube, and it’s filled with goodness, as usual. (One interesting note - after Industries Of Titan launched on Epic Games Store, there were positive knock-on effects for its Steam wishlists - 33,000 extra, and adding 600 per day. This further shows that ‘Epic & then Steam’ can be a good strategy.)
Since we can’t go to events any more (sigh), a shout-out to SomaSim’s Robert Zubek for making GameDevelopment.Events, which is a pretty canonical list of inexpensive and free virtual events we can all attend for learning (and networking) in the meantime. Thanks, Robert!
Want to see a wacky Steam game sales postmortem? This one for Gaia on the Unity forums would seem to fit the bill. The dev had a large/complex grand vision, made a trailer out of just assets, got a bunch of wishlists, THEN started making the game… and it gets odder from there. Takeaway from me: Unity & asset store gives a low barrier of entry into complex 3D games, but then… you have to deliver.
Another potential tip - somebody recently pointed out to me Localizor for crowdsourcing localization. The concept of loc crowdsourcing is controversial to start with, but the approach of Localizor is interesting - getting multiple translations and having people vote on the best. (You do need VERY interested communities to get that many translations.) Anyway - worth checking out.
A couple of new Steam announcements, in case you missed them. Firstly, Play Next has moved from a Steam Labs experiment into the actual Steam client. So - much easier to find unplayed games you might like! Secondly, there’s improved categorization for Steam back-end traffic reports, though they found some duplicated data which means your reported page views went down.
There’s a new GI.biz article about Steam wishlists which has some exclusive Valve data in it re: what happens to wishlists after launch. Specifically, 29% of all your launch wishlists eventually become purchases, on average, but “just over half of all wishlist conversions -- 51% -- occur during discount events.” And on average, 19% of wishlists are converted in the first year within 12 months of being added. Useful!
Finally, Jenny from the Rose City Games crew has done a recap of their LudoNarraCon experience with regard to Garden Story on Gamasutra blogs, comparing to actual con attendance, which is useful! Also notable: “From Jan 01 - 31st, when we were pretty heads down in development for Garden Story, we averaged about 69 (nice) wishlists a day. From April 24th - 27th, the weekend of the event, we averaged 1.2k - 1.4k wishlists a day.”
Well, that’s the updates for now - I’ll try to chime in with one of these compendiums every couple of weeks, since there’s always a lot going on in this space.