Steam's Discovery Update proving successful for indie developers
When you're an independent video game developer you don't have millions of dollars to spend on advertisement. Hell, in most cases, you don't even have thousands of dollars to spend on advertisement half of the time. You end up relying on others in (or interested in) the video game industry to put the spotlight on the game you've been developing. Whether it's an article on a news site that simply announces the existence of your game or a game forum that brings light to the unique-ness of your game -- it all helps.
Steam's latest update, the Discovery Update, brought a bunch of new features to Steam. One of these new features puts a spotlight on games that you should've heard about, but have yet to. This recommendation rotator is personalized for each user and offers up 12 games that you could be interested in. Of course you have the option on what to include in the rotator; Early Access, unreleased, or operating system specific games. In short, Steam is offering indie game devs the advertisement they need. The following question is, will it work?
In the short time the feature has been in place, yes. For some, at least.
Developers have been very open about how the update has affected them, taking to both their blogs and Twitter accounts to reveal the changes they've seen on their Steam Store Pages. Andrew Spearin, the Creative Director at New World Interactive took to his blog to reveal the affects of Steam's Discovery Update on Insurgency (a tactical FPS). Spearin cited how much traffic Insurgency's Steam Store Page received prior to the update and post update, here are the numbers:
- Sunday: 5,800 (pre-update)
- Monday: 21,500 (post update)
- Tuesday: 83,284 (post update)
While he did admit that the game was recommended by prominent figures (and Curators) in the gaming world, the spike in people visiting the store page is obvious. If you're wondering just how visible Insurgency has become on Steam due to the update, the figure is "370% over night." Spearin is not the only one discussing the potential that Steam's update has allowed for indie devs.
Lars Doucet, an indie game dev that worked on Defender's Quest, took to Twitter detailing how the Discovery Queue (and Curator's) has aided game sales:
1st day of data: Steam sales are clearly up. ~50% of traffic comes from DQ showing up in front page rotations. ~0.05% from curator plugs.— Lars Doucet ن (@larsiusprime) September 24, 2014
While these are all positive numbers, it seems as though the Discovery Queue focuses on the more popular titles in a developers library, funneling less attention on the unpopular games. Robert Boyd, designer/programmer/writer at Zeboyd Games (Cthulhu Saves the World) revealed his experience with the Discovery Update:
But just from this small data, it looks like Steam increases visibility for popular games & buries unpopular ones.— Robert Boyd (@werezompire) September 24, 2014
The positive experience of the Discovery Update will not be felt by all (such as it is with most things), but it at least raises the general awareness of indie games.
What do you think of Steam's Discovery Update? Let me know.
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