Developing for Steam can be a somewhat strange process, especially for newbie indie developers who might not understand all the complexities of the system. Gunpoint developer Tom Francis has acquired a few bits of interesting knowledge over the years and has decided to share some Steam developer tips to help other developers make the most out of selling their game.
The first of the Steam developer tips shared by Tom Francis highlights the importance of Steam Wishlists. Game developers will often implore users to add a game to their wishlist, some of whom going as far as to create contests or add other incentives. There are a few reasons behind this, but one of the most important comes down to e-mails. An e-mail from Steam will go out when the game is released and every time it goes on sale. Gaining a comparable level of reach with a lesser-known mailing service has the risk of ending up in the spam bin.
Another interesting tip comes down to the importance of the release date. Mr. Francis recalls a story where he was alarmed to find people asking about why people thought his game Heat Signature had released when it was still very much in development. The reason is that he had set an arbitrary date for release and had reached it before the game was finished; a number of tracking websites had picked this up from the API and announced the launch of the game. His advice, consequently, is to set your release date for a time very far in the future.
User review score isn't as important as one might think for Steam visibility. Unless it's "Mostly Negative", it won't have an impact on your page's visibility per Valve's algorithms. This came to Tom directly from Valve on a couple of occasions, though it's also worth noting that user review scores do show on many other pages for people to see. What will have an impact is "external interest" in your page. That is to say, Steam will pay attention to outside traffic coming to your Steam page. A high amount of incoming links will translate to a higher level of promotion, so you should be making an effort to send people to your Steam page and effectively promoting sales there. Sales matter for visibility, too, and that's why Mr. Francis advises against doing pre-orders. Pre-orders will spread out the sales, resulting in lower interest from the Steam algorithm and hurting your chances at free promotion.
These are just a few of the tips for developers shared by Tom Francis; you can see the rest of them by reading the full post on his website.
What do you think of the Steam developer tips shared by Gunpoint developer Tom Francis? Is there something you wish you knew about Steam before developing a game on the platform? Let us know in the comments below!