Steam has been one of Valve’s greatest successes and paramount for game developers to utilize. In the past we’ve talked about Steam sales as an important element of the store along with the curator and workshop features.
For today’s post, we’re going to give you a one stop source for the additional features that you can leverage to help build awareness for your game and that developers should know about if they’re going to be on Steam.
We are going to be repeating some of the topics from previous posts as we can’t sum up the Steam experience without mentioning things like game sales. The important features of Steam can be grouped into several categories starting with selling.
Obviously being on Steam means giving your game huge awareness compared to just selling it on your own site. Beyond just having a store page for your title, Steam offers additional features that you can use to help your title sell.
Coupons, daily sales, weekly sales, seasonal and event sales, these are all ways to raise the visibility of your title and renew its shelf life. Making use of these features will require you to deal with Valve personally and is something that we don’t have firsthand knowledge with.
Since we’ve talked about the use of Steam sales on previous posts, this section will be short. For more information on using sales, you can find them in the following posts:
- A look at the timing windows dealing with when to put your game on sale
- Examining the degrees of how much you can put a game on sale for and what that means to the consumer
Next we have a category that a lot of developers ignore when it comes to Steam — making use of its community features.
One of the best things about Steam when it comes to selling your game on it, is that every game comes complete with its own forum for the developer to make use of. The Steam forum is a very important part of communicating to your fan base regardless of if your game is in Early Access or not.
Even if you have your own forum setup on another site, it’s important to realize that if your game is on Steam, then any fans who buy it on there will look to its specific game forum for information on your game. This means it’s important to engage your fans on it just as you would on your own forums.
Steam’s functionality for building a community has increased with workshop functionality and the new curator option. For a more in-depth look on those two features, we have posts that previously touched on them:
- This post focuses on the Steam Workshop and how it’s being used by both consumers and developers to make a profit
- And this post examines the curator option, streaming and early access as means for your fan base to help raise awareness for your game
However there is another feature that has been a part of Steam that most developers ignore and that is the follow feature. Following a game replaces Steam’s original use of joining a community group for a title. As part of a community group, players could join a game specific chat channel and receive event alerts from the developers about the game.
The “follow” feature is the revised version of this and is another way for developers to stay in touch with their fans. Overkill Software makes use of this to send update and promotion alerts about Payday 2 to its fan base. Recently they tied this into the event known as Crimefest which we talked about on a post examining the use of marketing events to drive sales.
Any way that you can stay in touch with your fanbase and get feedback from them is great. Our last topic is on the incentives and why people prefer Steam and how you can use that to your advantage.
What has helped made Steam the #1 digital client in the Game Industry is the number of features and incentives it has to get people to use it. Using the Steamworks API, you can integrate achievements, multiplayer connectivity, anti cheating software and more into your game.
Achievements have been a great motivator to get people to buy games and the psychology behind it a bit too big to talk about in this post. There are also digital items and trading cards that have become a part of the Steam digital economy which we covered in previous posts —
- This post examines the incentives for playing games that developers can make use of
- And the post we linked above about the Steam workshop, also covers the digital economy side of Steam
The important point about incentives like achievements and trading cards is that they are a way of adding additional value to your game without as much work compared to developing new content.
Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth:
Leveraging the additional features of Steam that we talked about in this post can be critical for developers in raising visibility for your title. With all these features included with your Steam access and your game on the store, it’s crazy that more developers aren’t fully utilizing these features for their titles.