Today’s topic… getting to your game through Steam Greenlight!
We’re switching it up a little bit this week in light of my studio, Donley Time Foundation‘s game getting through Steam Greenlight. We are going to breakdown what we did and some thoughts on getting yourself through.
As you might already know we were Greenlit earlier this week and thank you so much to our friends and fans who supported us. It took approximately two weeks from the time we hit publish to till Greenlight and in our mind that was a rousing success for our game, Boss 101. We received a few questions about the process and what we did so we are putting together this week’s dev blog to cover what we felt were the most essential parts of our process. This is by no means a guaranteed blueprint of success for every game to get Greenlit, but we think it covers many questions you may have.
The fee from Valve for Greenlight is 100 US dollars. No getting around that but once you pay you can apparently start as many Greenlight campaigns as your imagination will allow. For us – we paid the fee and setup Boss 101 way back in October 2014. Of course, we didn’t publish anything until nearly five months later.
2. Setting up the page
The first thing you will probably do is mess around with the page to see what you can add. I recommend checking out things like the way to add pictures, edit the description and format things. You might want to make a test post (you can delete it) to see exactly how formatting will look in the page. It helps and you want to get practice in before you publish.
3. Your Video
You should have some sort of Greenlight launch video. This is the main thing you will show people outside Steam to get them into Steam for a vote. This will be posted on YouTube and you can send the link around to the media and your friends. Here’s a list of things that seem to work well (at least they did for us):
- Variety of Gameplay – This in particular is a must. The video goal should be to show a slice of your game and all its aspects. Do you have story? Show it! Do you have high action? Show it! Cool characters? Show them. Show things in context and in action in your game engine. Mockups and rough art are best avoided. This is your first shot at making a great impression and you want your best work forward.
- Variety of Game screens – Along with the gameplay, look to sprinkle in a variety of the kinds of UI the player might navigate if you think it’s significant to the project you have. For instance – you might have a feature where the player can customize their character – SHOW IT!
- Music and sound FX – There are a ton of great free online places to get music and sound fx. A little Google research can probably get you going here. If you don’t have any money you can still get free music and SFX for your video. You will want to pick something reflecting the mood of the game or use actual game music if you already have it.
- Length and Pacing – This is REALLY tricky but the best rule is short and sweet. You can always flesh out extra gameplay and stuff in subsequent videos or descriptions on your Steam page. We kept ours at the two minute mark and it was a good Hollywood trailer amount of time. You can go longer of course but every time you do something long you run the risk of people turning you off and missing something amazing at the end of your video.
Our final video
4. Animated images in your Greenlight gallery
It’s not exactly advertised, but you can use animated gifs on your Steam page gallery as long as they are under two megs. It’s probably worth tossing a few up if you have them of things like UI’s working or simple gameplay demonstrations.
5. Regular images in your Greenlight gallery.
Of course you can upload regular images too. These will want to augment what you started with the video. Variety, composition and interesting subjects are a must. It’s better to show variety than 20 images of the same battle scene.
6. Creating your game description and writing announcements
You will want to create a description for your product (the body of text explain your product and its features. You can also write announcements for your page (like Hello posts and daily updates).
Something I did not know nor was explained… You can link (via BB code) both animated Gifs and regular images from sites like Imgur. If you don’t have an Imgur account, get one. They recently abolishes the paid version and gave free access to all the features. Highly worth it and it makes the whole process easier. This is critical for adding things like banners and animated images to your page. I don’t recommend adding fifteen giant animated Gifs to your product description but certainly add images and nice banners to spruce up the look.
Also good to know… the first paragraph of your description is what Steam uses to blurb your product on the Greenlight page. In other words people will see your animated icon and the read your first paragraph a lot! Make it count.
When you are crafting your description something that may get you in the correct frame of mind is imagine each person visiting is a wealthy billionaire and might invest a load of money in your game. With that in mind you will want to do your best work, be precise and promise only what you know you can deliver.
In other words, treat people right and don’t start blowing smoke up their rear ends saying you will add risky features. They will smell something fishy right away and likely call you out or ignore you. The goal of your description should be focused on your main features, you unique selling points and why you think the game is special.
7. Animated Steam Icon for your game.
Another thing not really mentioned is you can use animated Gifs for your Steam game icon. They really stand out if you do a nice one and it is one of those touches that will help your game be set apart. There is a limit to the total size of the file but ours was about 700k with about a 150 frame animation. I don’t know how close we were to the limit.
Tell people right away what your language plans are so they won’t have to ask. You will have to address this no matter what since Steam is a huge global community.
9. Platforms you are shipping on
As with languages, you will want to lay out your plans for this. You will get asked regardless.
Getting to Publish
We starting in October 2014 and did not publish till March 19th 2015. The delay was to allow us time to make a nice video and a professional presentation. The best advice here is you are better holding off until you feel great about your Steam product. There is really no reason to just toss up a page with whatever you have. That will just lead to a lot of confusion and possible frustration for you potential customers. Again – think of that billionaire coming to see your page. Think about how many awesome presentation they see every day and how many people are trying to get his or her money. You want to put your stamp on something with quality!
I’m not saying you need to work with the kinds of budgets GTA V uses but work at your highest level of presentation. Do you very best and then stand back and look the whole thing over. Our process went something like this:
1. Create initial to-do list for Greenlight with all video and advertising needs
2. Pay Valve fees and get Steam page
3. Start work on assets for the page
4. When ready, create a cut of the video with your preferred editing software. Lay out the whole thing then let it sit for a couple days while you work on something else.
5. Come back to your video and look at it with fresh eyes. Finish up your editing if you have all your assets and put the video aside for now
6. Create and add art to the Greenlight page. Write up your descriptions
7. At this point if you have all the main things together, let is sit a day or two!
8. Come back and look at it from time to time and re-read it. You will probably find formatting errors or things you want to update.
9. When you are ready, hit Publish!
You can find the URL of your Steam project by doing a share. When you first publish Steam doesn’t immediate kick out the URL for you so you will have to go back into the project and look for it with the Share button.
Send that link around!
Start sending out the link to your blogs and sites. Don’t expect everyone to jump all over your game. They likely won’t unless you give them a very good reason to. Most of us aren’t Darkest Dungeon or Crawl. Those games had a really killer video that pretty well stole the show and guaranteed success for the project. Also, they were/are in the vein of what people liked.
Interact with the community
From personal experience I can say it pays to interact with every person who visits your page. If someone writes a comment, thank them. This is you building your fan base and being grateful to even have one. Most people will not leave a comment but they will look down in the comment section to see what people are saying about your game. In an ideal world they see a bunch of positive comments and your grateful response!
That sums up the main tings we found during our Greenlight campaign. I guess if there was one thing to remember, it would be to treat your friends and fans like the royalty they are. Each one matters and you want your best foot forward!
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to mail me at hello @ donleytimefoundation.com (remove the spaces).
And as always – LIVE YOUR DREAMS!