Tips and takeaways on releasing a game on Steam.
Get It Right From The Start
On Steam, the first time a product is made available to customers, there’s a massive amount of eyes on it. Think something in the ballpark of a million impressions in the first few days. An impression means that your game has been on a page that was shown to a user.
Your game will show up on the Steam front page, in the new releases section, personalized queues, categories, etc.
You’ll not get this chance again, so make sure you’re happy with the text, screenshots, and videos before you publish.
Side note: Compare this to mobile stores where you’re practically invisible at release, and almost all traffic comes from outside the store, unless Google or Apple are your best buddies and show your game on the front page.
Early Access vs Release
If you initially published the game as Early Access you have the option to release the game. This will bring in some new impressions but, in my experience, not as many as the initial publication.
If you update your game in the future you can reach some of your users with visibility rounds. The effect of a visibility round will depend on how big your player base already is. It can be a useful retention mechanic to reactivate churned users, or simply to inform active users of a new update.
The user review score shows wherever your game shows.
A user review from someone you gave the key to (press, friend, etc) will not count towards the total score.
Steam provides insights such as impressions, visits, click-through-rate, etc. This is useful to see how well your material works.
You can also hook up Google Analytics to the game’s store page to look at visitor behavior in more detail.
There’s no A/B testing of the store page, so it can be tricky to see what works and what doesn’t. You might want to test the material in some other way first.
The initial release of the game should be taken seriously, especially if you’re a small developer, as it gives you a lot of “free” exposure.
For further information I recommend reading the official documentation.