STEAM GREENLIGHT PRO-TIPS FOR INDIE DEVELOPERS
Steam is the largest digital marketplace for PC games. It’s a very important channel to get your game into the hands of the most players. Greenlight is the mechanism through which games end up on Steam.
Unfortunately, the Greenlight system is mysterious. Valve is not at all transparent about what it takes to get your game accepted through the system. I’ve gathered a few nuggets to give you a leg up on the competition.
Get It Right From the Beginning
You’ll really want to have other ways to get users to your Greenlight page (See the next tip.), but the traffic Steam is sending your way is also important. That traffic is front-loaded. It drops off significantly as your game is on Greenlight.
That means it’s important to show your game in the best possible light from day one. If you’ve been sloppy in pulling your page together, the comments will show that making your already uphill battle a little steeper.
Send All Your Fans
Steam will send considerable traffic to your Greenlight page, but don’t depend on that alone. Notify your mailing list, your personal friends, and your game’s Twitter and Facebook followers. Send fans from your Kickstarter page over to Steam (and vice versa). When you get press coverage, make sure they mention the Greenlight campaign.
This will increase your chances to make it to the Steam store which means more sales and a better chance to start working on the next game after this one has run its course.
Add a Trailer
Most games that made it through Greenlight have trailers. You should too. It’s what people expect to see if you’re really serious about finishing your game. It’s going to be tough convincing Steam users that you can’t be bothered to put together a trailer, but you should be trusted to spend the next six months polishing the game up for them.
If you don’t already have a trailer you can use, make an awesome one.
Tell How Far Along the Game Is
The people who vote on Greenlight are more savvy than the bulk of people who play games. They can understand that games in development don’t necessarily look or play like completed games.
They’re going to be judging you based on where you are, so tell them. Be transparent about the state of your game. If you’re feeling really brave, answer some of the concerns they might otherwise address in the comments by telling them what you plan to change. Just be prepared for them to be upset if one of the changes you mentioned doesn’t make it to the final version.
Share a Demo
Just like launching a Kickstarter campaign, we are trying to reduce the risk of the player when they support us. In Kickstarter, we’re asking them to part with cash. The risk is that their money is wasted on a game that’s no good.
On Greenlight, we’re just asking for a click on the “Yes” button, so there is no financial risk. The risk here is that, by voting in lots of games that are no good, the players have diluted their own marketplace. It’s now a little harder to find the good games because more games they don’t want are clogging up the works.
Offer a demo to help them understand exactly what they’re voting for. For bonus points, offer a web-based demo they don’t even have to download and install. You’ll get 10 times the number of people to play it. This is not always possible, but some engines make it easy. Unity games can be played in the browser and a few engines can export to HTML 5.
Don’t Dwell on the Stats
When you list your game on Greenlight, you’ll have access to statistics that tell you how your campaign is progressing. These stats are important and can be a great source of learning, but no one has been able to draw a direct correlation between these numbers and being accepted into the store.