Steam Page Optimisation: How to Get Found in The Sea of Other Steam Games
14/04/2021 Written by The Game Marketer
Steam is the world's number one digital distribution channel for PC games with over one billion registered accounts and 120 million active users every month. Those are huge numbers, but the sad fact is that for most game developers very few of those players will ever see your Steam page. In 2020 over 10,000 games were released on Steam and the competition for players attention has never been greater. It's now more important than ever that you spend time to optimise your Steam page to improve your games discoverability. Read on to discover the best ways for Steam page optimisation.
Getting found on Steam is increasingly difficult despite the huge numbers of players. The challenge is to get those players to your Steam page and then convince them that your game deserves their attention. Video gamers are a discerning audience and suffer from an abundance of choices, so you need to do your best to keep them interested. There are many factors that impact a player’s decision about which game they will play and one of the most important is their awareness of it. You cannot rely on people stumbling across your Steam page, so how do we get there?
1. Differentiate from competitors.
The most important thing you should do to make your game stand out against the thousands of other games on Steam and all over the internet is to try to have a unique selling point or USP. This does not have to be a reinvention of the wheel, just perhaps a different setting or even art style. What differentiates your video game from all others? Why would someone choose this one above any other option, no matter how similar it appears to be?
2. Optimisation isn't just about your page.
For many browsers of Steam, awareness of your game may start in another part of the site, be that home page or via a steam recommendation. As a developer you should be aware of these opportunities to promote your game and make them as visible to gamers as possible. This means that for many gamers their first interaction of your game will be seeing an image or "capsule" that you have built for it. When a player sees your capsule, Steam tracks this as an "impression". The quality and relevance of this capsule will make a big difference for players as it's their first impression of your game and maybe the one thing that makes them visit your page.
Tag your game correctly with appropriate tags so that it's easier for people to find when browsing through different categories. You should research tag combinations using tools such as Steamspy which show popular games by category - what tags they have - and then try experimenting with various permutations until you get higher rankings in searches for similar genres (e.g., "steampunk" + strategy). Tags do have to be ratified by players for Steam to approve them but ensuring these are correct is vital for you to show up in cross recommendations.
You also want to make sure you add the correct keywords to your page so you can be found in search results. It’s important that Steam itself also understands what you game is, not just players as increasingly Steam decides what games to show players.
If you have a good steam capsule image and you are showing up in recommendations and other lists in steam a player may click on your game to be taken to your steam page. This is your click thru rate. It's important to keep this high as it is a big factor in why you rank so well, or don't. The goal is for the player to find our page, read it fully because they are interested in what you have on offer, follow through with adding it to their wishlist or buying the game outright. But how do you create the perfect Steam page?
3. The Top 4 things players look at on a steam page are:
Game short description and small header image
The game trailer and images
4. The Short Description
Your short description can make or break a sale. This is the initial content that a player will see when they go to your Steam page, so it needs to be concise and engaging enough for them to read on and find out more about your game: Your steam pages short description should have these elements in order of importance: Give players an overview of what your game is about. This will often include one sentence describing gameplay features or mechanics such as "expand their territory with turn-based battles." Secondly, introduce any additional characters and settings. Thirdly the key hook that makes your game special or interesting.
5. The Game Trailer & Images
Create game trailers and screenshots that grab attention. Your trailer is the first impression of your game, so it's very important to get this right and make it as good as possible. There are many different types of trailers: gameplay (video), pre-rendered cinematic (image) or both. Its also important to note that most people don't watch videos to the end, so if you wait until the last ten seconds to show your unique game hook it might never be seen!
Use images that are of the best quality and reflect what your game is about. For inspiration you can look through Steam's screenshots gallery for games similar to yours or search other related tags on DeviantArt (you'll get more specific results if you include "steam" in the tag). There are also some good tutorials online on how to take high-quality screen captures with a PC gaming setup. When creating your trailer put yourself in the shoes of the player and ask yourself what you would expect to see. Optimise your images by making them at least 960x540px and then uploading to Steam. This is the size that will make it into a player's browser when they are looking through all of their games in "big picture mode".
Pricing is a whole topic, but the main question should be is the price appropriate for the game? A game that only lasts one hour should maybe not be the same price as a game that takes 60 hours to complete. But this can depend on replay value and lots of other factors. Look at your competitors and their pricing to see what range is appropriate. Pricing based on what you want to earn is not recommended. The market will determine the price and you need to be competitive in order to get sales. Pricing is also affected by currency exchange rates, regional markets, and sales. You can expect that the price of your game in Russia will be quite different to that of the US.
Players are always looking for social proof and reviews are one of the most important things to give them. Reviews are often the deciding factor for players before they purchase a game on Steam because it gives an indication of quality and content. Getting reviews from press is another topic and very important but getting reviews from normal players is also essential. Players can write reviews for your game and those reviews are visible to other players and form the core scoring system that your game is judged by on Steam. The reviews range from "Negative" to "Overwhelmingly Positive". It's important to not try to game this system as Steam will take a very dim view of anyone soliciting fake reviews but starting the process off with review keys to players (which will show up as "Product received for free") will help get the ball rolling. Ensure you are trying to also respond to your reviews both the good and bad.
8. Other important factors for Steam Page Optimisation
This is another important thing you can do to maximise your chances that players will follow through with adding your game to their wish list or buying it outright. A compelling, well written description which both sells the product and appeals to the consumer's needs guarantees more sales. It must be long enough for people not only to read but also get engaged with the content too! A great way of getting players interested is using screenshots, ideally animated, from within gameplay, as opposed to using unrelated artwork images like logos etc (although these work too!). Your description should further build out the key features of the game, what kind of player it is aimed at, and why they should buy your product.
The "About" section is also the first place where players can get a deeper feel for your game and you as a developer.
You need to determine what metrics you want to track and how. Metrics can include the number of wishlist sign ups, sales, how many players click on your steam page link in their Steam client or external site like Facebook and Twitter. Tracking this data will give you a clear idea if changes are working after applying them. If your game is not out yet its likely you will become pretty obsessed with your wishlist sign ups in particular. There is a lot of analysis that can be done here but it's important to note that the quality and value of wishlists vary greatly from game to game and are not a completely reliable indicator of success. That being said, wishlists remain a key factor in the success of your game as Steam themselves use this to determine your popularity and whether to feature your game in other areas of the site.
Steam Page Optimisation is all about getting found. That is what the whole process boils down to findability. There are many ways to get noticed but you also need to show players that they will enjoy playing your game if they buy it, so ultimately this should be a key focus of yours when going through with optimising your Steam page.
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