When we think about discoverability, our mind usually goes to mobile stores such as Google Play and the App Store. For years, the importance of discoverability on the mobile side of things has been essential to the success of one’s mobile game. Being discovered has always been the first challenge (and a huge challenge at that) to indie success, and if you can be discovered? You have a fair shot at earning a reputation and a significant income.
But according to Jay Powell, that’s all changing. That’s not to say that discoverability isn’t important on the mobile side of things any longer – it is. But it’s not important for just mobile stores: instead, it’s getting to be more vital to being successful on Steam.
According to Powell’s post on Gamasutra, indie developers are starting to see the same discoverability issues on Steam as they did during the infancy of mobile stores. The numbers don’t lie either: of 3,700 games currently available on Steam, over 1,300 of those have been released this year. The link points to an article written on Gamasutra in September, so that number is even larger now, and the crazy part about it? We’re still in November!
Think about that for a moment. Steam was originally released in Sept. 2003. In 2014 (and according to Powell), Steam’s catalog has grown by 33% since its inception. Furthermore (and gain, according to Powell), by the end of May, more games had been released in 2014 than all of 2013. Steam is also available in over 25 languages and has over 100-million users.
The crazy thing about it is if you replaced the word ‘Steam’ with ‘App Store,’ you would think we were talking about the growth of mobile gaming near the turn of the decade. Steam is already huge, but we haven’t seen anything yet. It’s going to continue to grow and become the destination for PC games in the same way that the App Store and Google Play have become destination stores for mobile games.
The same tips and strategies you use for your mobile games must be used when selling your games on Steam. According to Powell:
“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.”
I couldn’t agree more. Just releasing your game on Steam doesn’t cut it (and it never did), and neither does just releasing your game on Steam. Over a year ago, I wrote a post showing alternative stores to sell your indie games and detailed earlier this year how to sell your indie game from your website, which are all great places to start. Moral of the story? Release your game on as many stores as possible, and while you’re at it? Release it on as many platforms as possible.
If you truly want your indie game to be successful on Steam, you should also consider localizing it. Localization on the mobile side of things is vital to earning as much income as possible (especially since mobile gaming is huge in areas such as Asia), and it’s going to be just as important on Steam.
All of this is a sign of things to come, and I think Powell is right on target. Have any questions or comments? Let us know in the comments below!