Keys To Success: Greenlight Post-Mortem
Starting off, after 22 days, we are happy to announce that Keys To Success was greenlit a few weeks ago! We’d really like to thank everyone who supported us, either by voting or spreading the word around or showing us support! We are really grateful for that! Though we are not experts, we felt we wanted to share the little knowledge we have about Steam Greenlight and some ways to getting greenlit. Since we struggled to find online information about tips and tricks to it, we thought we should share our experience in case anyone found it helpful!
So, starting off in case you’re not familiar Steam Greenlight, you can check here for Valve’s description and FAQ’s about it. Briefly, it’s the community in Steam help pick new games to be released on Steam by voting for it. When a game gets enough votes, it gets greenlit and gets to be published on Steam. Sounds easy enough? Sadly, that’s misleading because the amount of submitted games every day is huge and the competition is fierce. “Competition? I thought it was just the community voting.” Well, true enough but there are some rules to it that turn it into a popularity competition.
As mentioned, the game gets greenlit if the game gets voted for by the community. Question is, how many? It’s hard to pinpoint an exact number, but most people speculate that you need to be in the Top 100 to be assured a greenlit. During the greenlight process, there’s a percentage number that indicates how far away you are from getting into the Top 100, and unfortunately that percentage isn’t fixed. It depends on your number of “Yes” votes as much as the ranking of the other games on Steam Greenlight. If you’re in competition with games that don’t get much votes, your game is bound to keep rising in the ranking list. However, if a game gets enough votes to reach higher than you in the ranking list, this pushes you down the list thus lowering your percentage. Frustrating? Yes, it really is!
So clearly, the greenlight process is a popularity contest. You not only need to reach out to voters, you also need them to like your game and get their vote. Most people launch their Greenlight and Crowdfunding campaign together, so they could back each other up. However, with Keys To Success, we launched our Greenlight standalone. But either cases, the most important step is the preparation step.
While you’re setting up the greenlight page, keep putting yourself in the voters’ shoes. Is the description long? Are there any grammatical mistakes? Does it sound engaging enough? Once you’re done, you’ll be asked to add screenshots and a short trailer/gameplay video to show the voters how the game is played. While Steam prefers developers to submit their game in its latest stages with more sophisticated art and gameplay, there’s nothing against submitting early versions of the game. For Keys To Success, we decided to follow GaaS approach (Game as a Service), where the game is built by the community and their feedback. So, we decided to launch Greenlight early. However, there were some who mercilessly comment on your game even if you do mention that it’s not the final look or product, so it’s preferable to always that keep in mind; it’s not unusual especially for the game development world.
When your preparations are done, the next step is clicking the submit button and actually having your game finally on Steam Greenlight! It’s as exciting as it can get, but the next 48 hours are probably the most important hours for the Greenlight phase. While the organic visitors from Steam itself isn’t so bad (I would say about 60~70% of the votes were Steam’s organic reach), it’s still not enough to get greenlit. So during those two days, try spreading the word about your game as much as you can. Create Facebook and Twitter campaigns, and post about it in the indie games groups or community. One of the very popular groups is Indie Game Promo, and there’s also Indie Gamedev Greenlight. Moreover, try to reach out to your local games communities and game magazines, and if they like your game they could help spread the word about your game. Also posting in game development forums and creating your own threads is very helpful. For Keys To Success, we tried out the Work In Progress Section in Unity Fourms. Of course, the list of forums is endless, but feel free to post about your games as much as you can. If you know how to use reddit, it’s worth a go as well!
So now for two days you’ve been surfing the net and posting everywhere about your game and – if you’ve become extremely popular with your game’s quality you might get greenlit in those 42 hours! On the other hand, with less better odds, you’re still in the greenlight phase. You’ll notice a drop in the curve of visitors, and nearly no one comes to comment or vote anymore. That’s natural; the peak of the organic reach’s voters is during the first two days of submitting your game to Steam Greenlight. So what to do when that happens? Will simple publicity on the social media and forums be enough?
The answer is surely no; those posts were our “little push” remember? Taking advantage of the peak and all of that, but with the activity dropping there’s little one can do. Nevertheless, there’s a really important feature that Steam has provided submitters with during the Greenlight Phase. It’s called “Announcements”. With Announcements, you can keep followers updated with your game’s status and news, and at the same time gives newcomers an idea of how things are doing for your game. In Keys To Success, we used announcements to post about the game’s development diary; it gave the followers an idea about how the game started and how we want it to turn out in the end. This allows them to become more interested in the game. You can use announcements to communicate with the voters as well, in case there has been a common question or a misunderstanding. Since the game is made for people, it’s important not to forget them or act like they don’t matter. Gamers are as important as the game developers for games. With that in mind, always keep in touch with everyone.
So is that it?
Yup it is! It might sound simple enough, but the execution is really hard. The greenlight phase is fierce with all those submissions and you’ll need to think of ways to standout. It might as well be a really good trailer, or some impressive art, or just a new game mechanic. But whatever ways you’ll improvise, remember the people you’re reaching out to, and the way you interact with them. Always observe with their eyes, and wonder if you’ll vote for your game had you been in their shoes. And what’s important is to never let the negative feedback bring your spirits down, and use it to make your game better!
If you have any questions concerning the greenlight phase, don’t hesitate to drop it and we’ll do our best to help you out with the little knowledge we have :) !