What does the November Steam update mean for indie developers?

    Hello! Not so long ago there was an update on Steam , which for some reason was not covered on Habré. But if you develop games and call yourself an indie buzzword , then this update will affect you in the most direct way.

    What happened?

    On November 8, Steam Discovery Update 2.0 was introduced on Steam . The main page has changed its structure, players have more opportunities to get recommendations and much more was presented in the update, the news of which is spoken by the url New store 2016 . The procedure for publishing games has also changed. Consider the key changes for indie developers:

    All that I have provided in the article are observations based on open sources. You can relate to the following facts with any degree of confidence.

    1. Starting impressions

    Previously, the mechanics of a typical indie start of a small title were as follows: Valv gave some pool of guaranteed displays of a large banner of the game on the main page (in the amount of a million). From these shows, a starting audience was recruited, which displayed (or did not display, depending on the quality) the game in the " popular news " section . In the popular, it’s quite possible to hang out for a week, which determines the main sales of the game.

    Now the “main” banner has transformed into a carousel, which contains recommendations. Recommendations may be due to popularity, the presence of the game with friends, the curators you follow, for tags that are similar to your favorite games. That is, there are no guaranteed impressions. This means that you begin your journey in the "new games" catalog, and only if there is interest in the game, then there is a chance to get into the "popular news" catalog. The trick is that the "news" section is replenished so quickly that games leave the first page in two days.

    Fact : you have about a day to recruit a starting audience from organics. If you can’t get into the popular - the game will drown in new products in 2-3 days.

    2. Update impression rounds

    Previously, in addition to starter displays, the game could be seen in the banner on the main page during major updates. Judging by the video from the steam guide, these were rounds of 500k hits. Now they stayed, but, judging by the information from the reddit , there was one caveat: the game will be shown only to those who have already bought it or added it to the wishlist. That is, now this is a way to return the audience to the game or remind people of the wish list about themselves.

    Fact : you won’t have organic traffic except the start traffic.

    3. The main page

    Many new sections appeared on the main page - it is simply full of lists, recommendations and discounts. And even if your game is shown in one of these lists, you must understand that there are always dozens of banners next to it.

    Fact : CTR of impressions on the main page has decreased.

    4. Localization targeting

    The game will not be shown in the lists if it does not contain localization in the player’s language. I don’t have clear information here - in fact, the distribution of impressions by region was before the update:

    But now the game does not appear in the list of new products if the game page is not translated into the player’s language. On the one hand, this is good - you do not need residents of Western Europe if you have a game in Chinese. But on the other hand, there are many non-English-speaking regions where fluency in English is common and this audience is lost for playing in English. Note: as correctly pointed out in the comments, the choice, of course, comes in the languages ​​that the player indicated in his profile, and you can specify several.

    If after the first points you already managed to delete the repository with your game and submit a resume to the nearest fast food point, do not rush to draw conclusions - it's not so bad:

    5. Reviews

    Even before the November update, the valves changed the feedback policy : from the people who received the game for free (by key), the reviews stopped being taken into account in the general rating and in general, to see them, the user needs to try - press some buttons, see some lists, in general, nobody will not do this. There was a story with the publication of a list of games, after which the rating changed for the worse, with a hint that it was obtained in a not quite honest way.

    However, now any review (even the game received for free) has a chance to appear in the largest banner on the main page of all the friends of the player who made this review. Good news if you had 300 beta testers and 40 of them wanted to write a good review.
    Fact: social interactions in the incentive are worth paying attention to.

    6. Curators

    Along with reviews from friends, in a large fashion banner on the main page, the latest recommendations from curators appear. Unfortunately, if you look at the list of TOP curators, you will find that half of them did the last review in September 2014, some of the remaining ones are well-known YouTubes, which are quite problematic to reach out to, and the other part only reviews games about Japanese girls (and your game , as luck would have it, about plasticine homunculi ), but all the rest are open for dialogue!

    Fact : suggesting writing a review to all the curators seems like a good idea.

    7. Tags

    Immediately in several new places, Steam began to show games that fit the user based on the tags of the games that he recently played.

    Moreover, this is not necessarily new products or tops of sales, of course, I don’t know the exact algorithm, but in these blocks you can see games that are old and not very well-sold, and in general that I hear about for the first time.

    Fact : The sales tail should theoretically grow. If before, besides the release and sales, there was no organic traffic, now targeted traffic can get to the game’s page for a very long time.


    Most likely, less slag will be visible. Games that, on parole, went through a green light with the calculation of being sold at 30 rubles per copy of the organic stim, having beaten off a month and a half of development, it will become harder to live. The "the more players, the more sales" mechanics should work harder than before. You can draw other conclusions yourself.

    Thanks for attention!

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