Call for data: help us measure Steam success!

We'd like some information, please.

[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter is written by ‘how people find your game’ expert & GameDiscoverCo founder Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.]

Welcome back to the GameDiscoverCo newsletter, and we’ve got a whole host of different topics to get into today. We’ll kick off with a call to arms for you all - to provide useful data for us to understand game discovery/sales a bit better.

But before we get started, wanted to link to this new YouTube Q&A with me, ‘The Top 10 Indie Game Marketing Questions Answered’. Game Dev Unlocked’s David Wehle (creator of The First Tree) took questions from his solo/microindie game maker community and I answered the most upvoted ones in a 45 minute video. Go check it!

[Reminder: in addition to our ‘Complete Game Discovery Toolkit’ eBook for members, we have our active member Discord, a data back-end and many more perks if you upgrade to our GameDiscoverCo Plus paid tier.]

Released on Steam since 2019? We need yr help!

So we haven’t actually done any surveys on behalf of GameDiscoverCo for a good few months now. And that’s changing now, since we’d like anyone who has released a Steam game in 2019 or sooner to fill out our new Steam survey at any time before Friday, September 3rd.

This time out, we’ve decided to skip things like ‘Steam reviews to sales ratio’ (the recent VGInsights research, building on our own, seems to take care of that pretty well.) So we’ll concentrate on the major things everyone wants to know:

  • Are the ranges of conversion (of wishlist emails and total sales) in the first week changing recently, if you launch with X wishlists?

  • Is having high ‘organic’ daily wishlist additions a clear indication that your game will do well?

  • Are particular Steam tags associated with better wishlist conversions or longer-term sales?

  • How does your first week revenue compare to the first month and year nowadays - has it shifted?

The data is anonymous. We can’t see what your game is, nor will we try to work it out, and we don’t ask for exact revenue numbers. It should take 5 minutes per game to fill out, if you have access to your game’s SteamWorks back end. (Do multiple games, if you can!)

We’re really hoping for 50-100 responses here, and we want everything from tiny indies to large studios to participate. So if you can help us out now, it’d be very much appreciated. We’ll start rolling out the results as part of the free GameDiscoverCo newsletter in mid-September.

Business intelligence on… business intelligence?

French video game finance guy Stephane Rappeneau has just released a brand new version of his comprehensive list of business intelligence platforms for games - which is extremely handy, given that there’s so damn many.

It comes in both an overview form (see above link and above graphic), and a detailed 40-slide PPT presentation with each service getting its own detailed slide. It spans everything from deluxe ($$$) solutions like NPD or Newzoo to free tools like SteamDB.

And while there’s still more platforms to add, I’m sure, there’s a bunch I learned from reading it. In particular:

  • Not only does How Long To Beat give interesting player-contributed data on completion times for many popular games, Stephane suggest you might be able to get hints of cross-platform popularity, since it now has platform-specific completion times for consoles. (Unclear, but it’s interesting to see that data!)

  • It’s exclusively mobile-centric, but business intelligence platform GameRefinery has some really good free analysis blogs on subjects like ‘the most unbelievable Japanese/Chinese collab events’ and ‘what drives success in 4x mobile games?

  • The Kickstarter campaign tracker website Bigger Cake was a site I actually wasn’t aware of. We tend to look at Kicktraq when trying to understand what’s happening with Kickstarter trending. But it looks like it has some great data, including rankings, average daily backers, top rewards by dollar amount, and lots more. Handy!

In any case, hit up Stephane to nominate sites he’s not listing yet (I’m definitely a fan of Games-Stats for its Steam tag analysis ability, for example), and maybe he’ll have to update it again in due course, muhaha. And great work all round.

The game discovery news round-up..

So, finishing up the free newsletters this week, let’s take a look around the Internet for game discovery and platform news and goodness - of which there is a lot.

While we’re rummaging for links, that Gamescom: Opening Night Live Keighley-fest (game timestamps) was pretty interesting too, huh? The new Saints Row looks perfectly pitched to be a potential smash, and Marvel’s Midnight Suns (from the Firaxis XCOM crew) is also a tasty little morsel. Anyhow, onwards:

  • The big platform announcement of Gamescom for Xbox was that “we’re bringing cloud gaming to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One this holiday, enabling Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to play 100+ games right from the cloud and discover new games with the click of a button.” We thought this might be a natural evolution, and it really opens up Game Pass to much easier casual browsing, which is awesome.

  • PC Gamer took a look at trends in upcoming Steam top wishlisted games, including a quotation or two from myself (woo!), and some interesting analysis in here: “About 30 of the top 100 wishlisted games, by my categorization, are from big, established studios… The remaining games are from smaller teams.” Also, come to that: “undead of one variety or another create one of the strongest themes at the top of the list.” Zombie attack!

  • Microlinks: Humble Games announced a rare publisher-wide ‘Game Pass on Day 1 for our published games’ deal; the hardest part of making a game is everything, according to this IGN report on hilarious development snags; as Unity dominates game engine space, if you back this Kickstarter, you can learn how engines used to work, from pseudo 3D and voxel terrain to BSP and portals!

  • This survey on co-op gaming (pic above) has some notable highlights, including a Top 10 of top co-op games, plus desirable traits in co-op games - headed by things like world exploration, character progression & customization - plus a section on particular problems in co-op. (Link via Chris Z, who’s been killing it with blogs on how Steam can work against small games & what to do about it.)

  • RockPaperShotgun got a hold of the Steam Deck designers for a chat - a couple of things that stood out? “A lot of people internally [at Valve] are excited” that you might just use your Steam Deck as your main PC (interesting!), and the ‘small fonts aren’t readable’ issue is already something they’re on top of: “what works for readability and usability of the device, we definitely have guidance and we're starting to talk to developers about that.”

  • Microlinks, Pt. 2: an interview with a professional Roblox dev studio start-up, Talewind; apparently 90%+ discounting on the Switch eShop in Japan comes with above average peer shaming; the #GameDevSalaries project launched its 2021 database of transparent salaries, and it’s definitely worth reading for large-scale context into what’s ‘normal’ in various countries, and how different it can be.

Finally, look, I know that Xbox Game Pass is getting ubiquitous, and Microsoft is pushing it hard. But I kinda love the fact that your kid’s American Girl doll can now be accessorized with a tiny prop Xbox Series X, a headset, controllers, ‘game discs’ and even a tiny pretend Game Pass activation card:

But wait, there’s more - I guess “there’s also a real Xbox Game Pass Ultimate 30-day pass in there, too.” Cross-selling kids’ dolls with Game Pass Ultimate sign-up opportunities? Now that’s apex marketing, Microsoft.

[We’re GameDiscoverCo, a new agency based around one simple issue: how do players find, buy and enjoy your premium PC or console game? You can subscribe to GameDiscoverCo Plus to get access to exclusive newsletters, interactive daily rankings of every unreleased Steam game, and lots more besides.]