A couple of weeks ago, we placed our game, Spellstrike, in Steam Greenlight. I was in charge of marketing the game in Greenlight (or making the game Greenlit) and had direct contact with the Greenlight page. Nobody touches the Greenlight page but me!
Spellstrike got Greenlit in just 12 days which was I think a pretty good record, considering it’s the first game I’ve ever put up on Steam. I realized that these 12 days in Steam Greenlight were an emotional roller-coaster ride, so here’s a few things I’ve learned that I would like to share:
1. Be prepared
As Simba’s uncle Scar would say: “Be prepared!”. I didn’t want to mention this at first because it’s common sense, but it is something that everyone who wants to put up their game in Greenlight should remember and be reminded of. No matter how much you think you’ve prepared, something or somebody will make you feel that you haven’t prepared enough.
Putting your game on Greenlight means you’re going public with your game. People will talk about you and write about you. And if you aren’t prepared enough, they will bash you and complain to you even if your game isn’t live yet. I suppose it can’t be helped, but preparation also includes the emotional… and physical. Having a Greenlight page is a 24 hour job!
It would be easier to present your game if it’s 100% complete, but for some (like us), we placed our game in Greenlight even if it’s still in the alpha stage. People don’t really care about the little disclaimer you have on your video stating “Pre-alpha build”. What’s important is that all materials needed to present the idea of the game is well thought of, well prepared, and well presented. You don’t want to be updating your page while it’s already public. That will confuse a lot of people.
2. Communication is key
Having a relationship with Steam Greenlight is like having a relationship with all the Steam gamers out there. One thing’s for certain, people can get pretty mean… and impatient. People get angry and frustrated when they do not understand.
One tip for creating a successful Greenlight page is to be clear with what your game is about. Think of every possible comment, every possible question people can ask, and try to answer these questions through your game pitch. People check out your Steam page and it will take them just a few seconds to decide if they want to click on the “Yes” or the “No Thanks” button. You’re lucky if you get someone who will leave a comment and ask you for clarifications about the gameplay. Having researched for weeks on Steam Greenlight, I realized that if people don’t understand your concept, they won’t ask for clarification, they’ll just leave a “This sucks!” comment, close your page, or vote No.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and sometimes, game concepts can be explained visually. People don’t like reading, so try to make sure that all your images and videos are clear and concise. If people don’t like or understand what they see, they will say no and never come back.
3. Be strong
Getting Greenlit on Steam remains a big mystery to all of us game developers. No one knows what the criteria is for getting Greenlit. Some say it’s the number of Yes votes, other says it’s the Yes-No ratio. For now, we can only speculate, so my advice is: don’t get disheartened.
Here’s a warning if you’re planning to go Greenlight: It is not easy to be in charge of it! Everyone expects you to make some sort of magic happen. During the first 2 days that we were in Greenlight, the whole team had the Steam page open in a tab, and kept refreshing the page every few seconds. Someone will start to announce “We have 2 more Yes votes woohoo!”, and everyone is going to refresh the page again. Every so often, we will get a No vote and team members will get cranky and depressed and they will look at me with an expression asking me to part the sea.
After the first 3 days, the activity on the page started to die down. From then on, until the next week, I kept hearing “Coco, do something!”. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do. I posted updates, announced in different forums, practically begged people to check out our page, but I couldn’t get us out of that ratio. For every Yes vote, there was a No vote, and for every No vote, I got an angry team member.
In the end, I told everyone that if 1000 people voted yes, and 900 voted no, then there are still 1000 people who will buy our game right? We can’t please all the gamers out there because we like different kinds of games. What’s important is that we get our target market to play our game.
We got Greenlit with a 56%-43% Yes-No ratio and everybody in the studio ended up being friends again.
4. Be available
Each person who asks a question about your game is interested, so make sure you keep close communication with them. Each person who votes Yes, and somehow shows some support is valuable, because these people can be potential customers. They can be talking about your game and attracting new players.
Make sure you get to answer each query no matter how stupid, useless, or unrelated. At the end of the day, the people who asked, including trolls, are in one way or another, interested.
Here’s another tip, you can prepare the answers in advance. Sometimes you can prepare a visual to explain a concept easier. That way, when someone asks, you already have the answer prepared.
Coco is the game designer, marketer, producer, occasional graphic artist, and team punching bag of Sudden Interactive. The team is currently developing a strategy game called Spellstrike.
Art by Tim Albano, the lead artist of Spellstrike.
For more information on Spellstrike, you can visit the following pages:
For more development blogs: http://spellstrikegame.com/news/